The inside story of Christina Aguilera's new album. Producers Rockwilder and Linda Perry explain how Aguilera tried to get real on ''Stripped'''s singles
What a girl really wants is artistic control. Or so it seems with Christina Aguilera’s new album, ”Stripped,” due Oct. 29. The album’s 20 new tracks offer an updated version of the 21-year-old singer’s musical tastes and personality. ”She carefully chose the lyrics and the songs,” says Bob Jamieson, chairman of Aguilera’s label, RCA, ”because they represent her outlook and perspective on life.” Here’s the story behind the album’s first two singles, and more:
”Dirrty” Featuring a guest spot by Redman, the album’s first single — among the last tracks to be recorded — was produced by Rockwilder, one of the knob-twiddlers behind her collaboration on the hit ”Lady Marmalade” remake. Rockwilder, who has worked with artists from Janet Jackson to Jay-Z, came away from the ”Marmalade” sessions as an Aguilera admirer: ‘Christina’s voice was very surprising,” he says. ”You don’t think her little body can hold all those octaves and different voices.”
When they met again, Aguilera told Rockwilder she was looking for a track that would announce to the world that she’s back — but not the same as she was. ”She wanted it to be down and dirty,” Rockwilder says, ”really powerful, really wild, and crazy.” With that in mind, Aguilera suggested that Rockwilder do a track in the vein of her favorite Redman hit, the high-energy ”Let’s Get Dirty.” In fact, ”Dirrty” became a near-remake of its predecessor. Says Rockwilder: ”I figured since ‘Let’s Get Dirty’ was a hip-hop song, flipping the song for a pop artist would be whole different situation — and it was. It woke the song right up.” However, the single — in which Aguilera promises to ”sweat until my clothes come off” — failed to give fans the right wake-up call; ”Dirrty” never hit the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100, even though its oft-mocked, panty-flashing video hit No. 1 on ”TRL.”
”Beautiful” Perhaps because of ”Dirrty”’s relatively weak performance, RCA has already picked a second single: the Beatles-via-Alanis-Morissette ballad ”Beautiful.” According to former 4 Non Blondes leader Linda Perry, who wrote and produced the song, it was never meant for Aguilera. When she first came to Perry’s L.A. studio, Aguilera asked Perry to break the ice by entertaining her with a song. Perry chose to play ”Beautiful,” with its poignant chorus (”I am beautiful/No matter what they say”), never thinking that Aguilera would want to record it.