(Photo Via: Billboard Magazine)
On the cover of Billboard this month, pop-sensation Christina Aguilera dishes on the direction of her upcoming album, Lotus. Once a stick-thin teen pop star, the 31-year old mom has embraced a different sound and a new, thicker figure, this time around. In lieu of her return to the mainstream pop scene, and her recent gig as judge of The Voice, Eric Grimm wonders whether washed-up music idols-turned-reality-TV-judges can ever really reclaim the spotlight:
(Photo Via: The Voice)
Christina Aguilera just released “Your Body”, the lead single from her forthcoming album Lotus. The timing is important. Aguilera has not had a hit solo single in four years and is keen to ride the wave of her success as a judge for NBC’s hit singing competition The Voice. The show’s reach has done wonders for fellow judge Adam Levine and his band Maroon 5, whose track ’Moves Like Jagger’ (which featured Aguilera) became an enormous summer 2011 smash and paved the way for subsequent hits ’Payphone’ and ‘One More Night’.
Aguilera, often praised for her voice but chided for her hyper-sexual image, needs a strong hit to stay on the radio, lest she remain a career television personality with middling musical success. The stakes are high for a woman who once released three consecutive number one singles from her debut album. But reaching former charting heights may not be impossible for Aguilera; more and more former pop stars are using reality television as a last resort to reclaim their careers after personal and career missteps.
When ‘American Idol’ began in 2002, a judge’s star power did not seem to be a factor in his/her placement. Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson had long been behind the scenes in chart-topping music and Paula Abdul had not charted in the top twenty in over ten years. As the show became the highest rated on television, Abdul twice attempted to restart her music career with singles ‘Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow’ and ‘I’m Just Here For the Music’, two generic dance records featuring heavily autotuned vocals. Though neither single hit, Abdul’s exit in 2010 did help to ignite one other pop star’s flailing career.
Jennifer Lopez, similar to Abdul in her talent as a dancer coupled with limited vocal ability, saw ‘American Idol’ as a chance to put herself back into the fold as a major contender in the music industry. The gamble payed off. ‘On the Floor’, the heavily marketed lead single from her seventh album, ‘Love?’, became the biggest hit of her career after she premiered the music video on ‘Idol’ and later performed the song live in one of the final shows of the season. The track topped eighteen international charts and its music video has tallied over 500,000,000 views online. Interestingly, neither Scotty McCreery or Lauren Alaina, American Idol’s top-two contestants, managed to chart in the top ten of Billboard that season. The show had seemingly become about the judges.
(Photo Via: Lovely Lopez)
Whether the pop star recaptures success beyond the television screen or not, it’s clear that fumbling pop stars are being given another chance at success by revitalizing their brand on Idol-esque shows rather than starting from scratch. Britney Spears and Demi Lovato were the new additions to ’The X Factor’ panel this fall, each in need of a little extra kick for their music careers. Spears’s post-meltdown comeback lost steam with ‘Femme Fatale’, a well-received but slow-selling album. Lovato similarly bounced back from much-publicized personal issues but has never released a blockbuster album or a smash hit single. (Unfortunately for the pair, and a boastful Simon Cowell, season two of ’The X Factor’ is off to a rough start, routinely pulling in fewer viewers than both its previous season and the current season of ‘The Voice’.)
Over at The Voice, Adam Levine has reaped the most benefits from the television exposure and now Christina Aguilera is now feeling the pressure to deliver. Her last tour was cancelled after a string of troubles in 2010 including the failure of her album ‘Bionic’ to move copies or deliver a hit single and the release of ‘Burlesque’, a box office bomb that marked her film debut. While ‘Your Body’, with enough fanfare on ’The Voice’, could give Aguilera the boost she desperately needs, the song seems to be just that: desperate. With by-the-numbers production from Max Martin, the song features hammering vocals, which are necessary for a vocally limited artist like Katy Perry, but are out of place for Christina Aguilera, who still has the kind of voice that seems capable of shattering the earth, let alone the radio. Even with the platform to potentially rebrand herself in the vein of Adele, in whose case the vocals are proudly on display over the production, Aguilera seems anxious to get back to her ‘Stripped’ days and cast herself as a sexual icon.
(Photo Via: Tumblr)
The granddaddy of them all, ‘American Idol’ will see three new judges when it returns in January of 2013. ‘Idol’ has churned out its fair share of country success stories, so Keith Urban seems a natural fit, though his career is most stable given his dominance in the genre. Nicki Minaj has had an unsteady year as her authenticity as the queen of MCs was called into question with the release of hit single ’Starships’, which, along with subsequent single ‘Pound the Alarm’, appeared to signal a change in a more dance-oriented direction for the colorful rapper/singer. It’s unlikely we’ll catch her performing tracks like ‘Beez in the Trap’ on the family friendly Fox series, so ’Idol’ may firmly place Nicki in bubblegum pop mode. Mariah Carey made the biggest headlines for her outrageously expensive deal to become a judge, but with a shot voice and a tendency to come off as more than a bit batshit, she is most likely to strike the nail in her own coffin with Paula Abdul antics and lackluster companion music.
(Photo Via: Getty/TMZ)
With XTina and Cee-Lo out at ‘The Voice’ – both want to focus on their music careers – Shakira and Usher will take to the swiveling chairs, yet more proof that pop stars see TV as a mode of revitalizing their careers. Whether viewers actually turn out for their efforts or reward them with digital track purchases and radio spins remains to be seen.
(Photo Via: Pop Dust)
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