Recording information: Chalice Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Conway Studios, Hollywood, CA; Kung Fu Gardens, North Hollywood, CA; Mad Dog Studios, Burbank, CA; The Enterprise Studios, Burbank, CA.
Photographer: Ellen Von Unwerth.
Thsi is a well assembled career-spanning compilation from Christina Aguilera that, as the title implies, charts the golden throated songstress's evolution from her early years as a seemingly effervescent teen pop sensation to her later incarnation as a more mature artist with self-consciously high artistic aspirations.
Though Aguilera seemed uncomfortable with the comparisons to teen icons like Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson that dogged her early career, singles like "Genie in a Bottle" and "You Are Beautiful" are sterling examples of cannily written, dance-floor-oriented pop, and compare favorably with much of Aguilera's later output. Though KEEPS GETTING BETTER places a marked emphasis on newly recorded tracks like "Keeps Getting Better" as well as material from BACK TO BASICS, Aguilera's R&B-inflected 2006 release, it's those infectious early singles that make this compilation truly essential.
Unlike many of her teen pop contemporaries, Christina Aguilera was a technically skilled singer with a genuinely powerful voice, belting out her uptempo dance numbers and ballads with a diva's panache. Her 1999 debut hit number one, eventually selling over eight million copies in the U.S.; "Genie in a Bottle" topped the charts for five weeks. Released in 2002, Stripped was quickly criticized; Aguilera's look had gone from glossy to gritty. She then worked with DJ Premier and Linda Perry, among others, for 2006's Back to Basics, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album portrayed a more mature -- yet at the same time provocative -- singer. Bionic followed in 2010 and Lotus in 2012. ~ Steve Huey
Entertainment Weekly (p.72) - "The singer has banished melisma and belting from these electronic confections, and her chops sound just as hot set on simmer." -- Grade: B