By Michael Slezak
Updated October 18, 2006 at 07:28 PM EDT

Just when I get myself into a crankypants funk about the way today’s divas are too lazy or too stingy to go all-out and produce lavish set-pieces for deliciously narrative music videos, who should come to the rescue but Christina Aguilera — in a self-directed clip, no less! Indeed, the circus-themed “Hurt” — now playing at Stereogum and Beauty N The Beat (be sure to pause the latter’s playlist to avoid an Omarion-Xtina mashup) — finds carnival superstar Xtina lamenting the loss of her dear, sweet dad. This is one of those videos where all the details seamlessly come together, from the little elephant necklace, to the shot of Xtina’s hand being pulled away from her father’s, to the spinning camera that’s used to convey our gal’s confusion and grief. Better still, the video actually makes me like the song more than I did when I heard it on its own. If I’ve got any complaint, though, it’s the way the “Hurt” clip opens to the strains of the far superior ballad, “Welcome,” a brief reminder that the latter track should’ve been the second single off Back to Basics. That said, as overwrought as “Hurt” is, you can’t really argue Xtina’s fine vocal form, nor the promise she shows as a director. Or can you?