Below is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RS 909 from November 14, 2002. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone's premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.
It was late one night in Miami, toward the end of last year, that Christina Aguilera discovered the therapeutic joy of smashing things. She had recently split up with her boyfriend, Jorge Santos — one of the dancers in her live show, and her first true love — and she wasn't happy. She had taken her rage and sorrow out to a nightclub and, now that she was there, she didn't quite know what to do with them. "I was in a weird head space," she recalls. "I was not myself, for sure. I was kind of running around, crazy, experiencing things for the first time." A friend of hers, diagnosing her dilemma, led her away, into one of the club's back rooms, where he handed her a champagne glass.
"Break this," he told her.
"What?" she responded.
"Throw it," he instructed, taking a glass and hurling it against the wall, by way of demonstration.
So she did the same. And, as it shattered, something within her was quelled.
"That was the first time I had really broken things," she says, "and it felt so good."
That night, they smashed about two boxes of champagne glasses. Afterward, she felt "fucking great."
Aguilera has hardly been cleansed of anger since that day, nor is she such an unconflicted soul that she is unable to conjure up plenty of other feelings (bitterness, paranoia, insecurity, a desperate need for approval) without which life is simpler and cleaner, but maybe she's learning how to deal with it all.
The recording of her new album, Stripped, was not a simple, steady or speedy process, and there were difficult times along the way. On one particular day, she found herself feeling increasingly irritated, and her irritation wouldn't subside. She had learned various ways of relieving stress in the studio: chucking tea bags against the studio walls, for instance, or pretending that she was a horror-movie actress going crazy. The song-writer Linda Perry, who collaborated on four of Stripped's songs, suggested Aguilera simply scream at the top of her lungs. But sometimes none of these was enough.
Now she knew another way. She asked a runner to go shopping for her and to bring back lots of glasses and lots of dishes. She'd do the rest.
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