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Album Review

It might seem hard to believe, but Christina Aguilera has just released her eighth studio album, Liberation. She's 37 now, a mother of two, and a long way from the entertainment roots she planted in the Mickey Mouse Club back in 1991.

Aguilera has a long history of being deliberately provocative. And there are definitely some of those moments here. That said, the singer says her latest effort was an attempt to distinguish between her “old self” and who she feels she is now.

In an age where social media filters often cover our flaws, Christina takes off her makeup, throws filters to the wayside and invites fans to come and hear what has changed (as well as what hasn't).

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

On album opener and title track “Liberation,” Christina asks herself, “Where are you?/Are you there?”

“Searching for Maria" finds the singer borrowing three famous lines from The Sound of Music ("How do you solve a problem like Maria?/ How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?/How do you find a word that means Maria?") That's followed by the similarly titled (and full-length) song "Maria," in which she ponders the costs of fame: “And how am I supposed to face this lonely life I’ve created?/Is that the price I’m payin'?/ … How was I supposed to know?/That it would cost my soul?” She says that she’s “so tired of painting all this makeup/‘Cause it won’t hide my deep cuts.” She even voices a prayer of sorts in that track, singing, "Oh, my lord/Can you take away this heavy load?/I can't carry it anymore/I'm callin' an angel, where is my savior?"

We hear similar confessions about the burdens of fame on “Sick of Sittin’” and the interlude “I Don’t Need It Anymore.”

The empowerment anthem “Dreamers” features Christina’s daughter, Summer Rain, among a group of young voices as they dare to dream about who and what they might be when they grow up: “When I grow up I want to be a screenwriter/I am strong/I am invincible/I am a leader/ … I want to be heard.” Demi Lovato joins Christina on “Fall in Line,” as the two of them encourage other women to stand up for who they are, reminding female listeners that they are much more than sexual objects: “But you deserve to know/That in this world/You are not beholden/You do not owe them/Your body and your soul.”

“Unless It’s With You" opens up about past hurts, and Christina hints vulnerably at making a lifetime commitment with her current fiancé: “You came into my life when I wasn’t trying to find/Anybody to love, hiding what I felt inside/But you opened me up, and now I finally realize/I’ll be your girl for life.” In “Deserve” she seeks to preserve a relationship by finding the good in it: “Breakfast in the mornin', laughing over pancakes/Smell the coffee burnin', forget all of the mistakes that we made.” That complex (and often profane) track also includes admissions about how difficult it can be for her to receive love from someone. She admits that when she feels insecure, she can be "passive aggressive" and lash out. That said, she also realizes behavior like that isn't healthy.

In “Twice,” Christina says, “Sometimes I wonder what is the meaning of this life," but later says, "I’d do it all again and won’t think twice.”

Objectionable Content

Despite her positive desire to break free from celebrity life in “Sick of Sittin’,” Christina uses profanity to get her point across: “I ain’t built for no fake s---/B--ch don’t play me, I raised kids.” That's one of five songs (out of 15) to earn an "Explicit" warning for harsh language.

“Fall in Line” suggests that virtually all men oppress women and think of them as sexual objects.

And speaking of sex, that's a fairly frequent topic here, too,—which comes as no surprise to anyone who's ever listened to a Christina Aguilera album. Songs such as “Masochist,” “Pipe,” “Accelerate,” “Like I Do” and “Right Moves” all dive into graphic imagery and metaphors describing physical intimacy.

In “Right Moves,” for instance, Christina sings, “On the cold concrete, I’m warmin’ up your body/Bangin’ in my chest/I must confess, it ain’t the only thing that’s pounding now.” In "Masochist," we hear that she's stuck in a dysfunctional relationship that she can't seem to leave behind: "'Cause lovin' you is so bad for me/Oh, but I just can't walk away/I get all my pleasure in your bedroom/In your arms/You get all your pleasure from my torture/From my harm."

Summary Advisory

In an interview with Zane Lowe, Christina Aguilera said of making this album, “I needed to feel liberated in my own skin again … I had to get back to what I truly love … to my truth.”

So what is Christina's "truth"? This time around, that subjective notion encompasses more positive messages than we've heard from her recently. Maybe ever, actually. She encourages women of all ages to speak up, to develop their voices and to be comfortable in their own skins. She declares that it's a new beginning for her, saying she wants to break free from the clutches of fame. She even opens up about her commitment and love to longtime fiancé, Matthew Rutler.

In fact, you could say that the shocking, make-up free photo of her on the album cover represents—in a good way—a kind of raw authenticity that we've rarely seen from an artist who's frequently characterized as a diva. If you didn't know it was her, you probably wouldn't recognize her from that image.

That said, not all of Christina's personal "truths" are redemptive ones. Harsh language mars a third of the tracks on the album. She hasn't completely turned away from graphic references to sex either. And in an effort to encourage women to be themselves, she sometimes assumes that all men objectify women and treat women poorly.

The end result when it comes to Liberation? An album that's pretty provocative—in some surprisingly good ways and some that are anything but.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

PopR&B

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Debuted at No. 6.

Record Label

RCA Records

Platform

Publisher

Released

June 15, 2018

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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