Christina Aguilera kicked off her recent media blitz for her upcoming album, Liberation, with a striking photo spread in the latest issue of Paper magazine. Stripped of her usual heavy makeup and bleached-bombshell waves, the naturally freckled pop singer was nearly unrecognizable. “Accelerate,” the lead single from the album, is similarly barebones. For a track audaciously titled “Accelerate,” it never really takes off, even when Aguilera begs, “Come on, babe, pick up your speed.” And that's by design.
Liberation, Aguilera’s first album in six years, is reportedly a decisive return to R&B and hip-hop for the singer, whose last two albums were more pop- and dance-oriented. Co-produced by Kanye West, “Accelerate” is propelled by perpetually shifting beats, a rumbling electro bassline, and a distorted male voice barking indecipherable commands. Almost two minutes in, a skittering trap beat and a rap verse from 2 Chainz more clearly position the song (which also features Ty Dolla $ign) squarely in 2018, but it’s the single’s final stretch, in which Aguilera sensually vamps and coos over a slinky, minimal backing track, that marks “Accelerate” as an official Xtina joint.
Directed by Zooey Grossman, the song’s music video is a mix of grainy video footage, soft black-and-white set pieces reminiscent of Grossman’s Paper shoot, and bold neon-lit scenes in which Aguilera eats glitter, simulates cunnilingus, and gets doused in corn syrup.
Liberation is due June 15th via RCA Records.