For the past 10 years, Christina Aguilera has shrewdly encompassed the finest traits in modern female pop, with Whitney Houston’s pipes, Madonna’s political outspokenness and marketing savvy, and Mariah Carey’s fake tits. Indeed, on her new greatest-hits collection, Keeps Gettin’ Better: A Decade of Hits, Aguilera is all things to everyone, running the gamut from teen-pop princess to hip-hop skank to self-help guru to rock goddess to Motown soulstress to ‘40s pinup to electro-pop maven with equal aplomb. Guy Roche’s synth-infused production on early chart-toppers “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants” proves surprisingly durable (the schmaltzy Diane Warren ballad “I Turn to You,” on the other hand, not so much—thankfully, you’re more apt to hear Aguilera’s signature “Beautiful” on AC radio these days); though it wasn’t a huge hit, “Dirrty” is seminal, marking her professional and sexual coming-of-age; and while its success was marred by poorly chosen singles that were released at a prude’s pace, Aguilera’s most recent effort, Back to Basics, is fully represented by all three of its singles. U.S. fans will have to pick up the import for Aguilera’s collaborations with Ricky Martin and the Ladies Marmalade (“Nobody Wants to Be Lonely” and “Lady Marmalade,” respectively), while “Can’t Hold Us Down,” one of the bigger hits from 2002’s Stripped, is missing altogether. The inclusion of the popular single version of “Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)” aside, then, the collection’s four new Linda Perry-helmed tracks are its key selling point: “Genie 2.0” recalls the stellar sonic architecture of Kelly Osbourne’s “One Word” (also produced by Perry); the throbbing title track evokes disco-slut Goldfrapp; and “You Are What You Are (Beautiful)” is reminiscent of Moon Safari-era Air. Not exactly what one would call original, but if it’s true the singer’s next studio album will reprise this electro-pop sound, Aguilera deserves credit for refusing to play it safe.
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