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Christina toughs it out

Pop diva Aguilera seals her fans' love for her with a rousing show reflecting her musical evolution and survivor's swagger

Published on July 4, 2007

Christina toughs it out

Pop diva Christina Aguilera performs live at Impact Arena in Munag Thong Thani on June 28, 2007

If there were anything  to complain about in Christina Aguilera's otherwise flawless performance last Thursday at Impact Arena, it would be that she didn't arrive earlier. It might have answered the question she asked years ago: "When will my reflection show who I am inside?"

Aguilera's first album opened with the pop song "Genie in a Bottle", but the genie has been on the loose ever since. She's a fighter now, and a scrappy fighter at that. At Impact she paid tribute to the musicians who inspired her - Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald among them.

She revved up her most popular tunes, from "Come on Over Baby" and "What a Girl Wants" to "Lady Marmalade" with a soul-jazz twist to which only her voice could do justice. The lady has moved far on from pop and hip-hop - and so far she hasn't disappointed any of her fans.

Despite a chorus of 20 backup singers, a full band and some sort of circus with trapeze acts going on behind her, it was Aguilera who remained the focus all night, aided by 600 lights and 10 sparkling costumes, though even the flashy outfits seemed superfluous to her talent.

She opened with "Ain't No Other Man", face and body hidden in a man's suit and hat, and when the gear came off to reveal her long blonde curls and a beautiful white dress, the crowd went crazy.

It was the authentic Broadway show that up till now Thailand hasn't had a chance to see, with all elements of drama, tragedy and comedy. Throughout there were sexy glares and much licking of red lips.

Aguilera flaunted her pin-up body amid muscled male dancers and naughty chicks for songs like "Nasty Naughty Boy" and "Candyman", then sealed her claim on fans' hearts with genuine glimpses of her real life.

While her introduction to "Oh Mother" seemed recited, when she started singing the audience was moved by her emotional delivery, not by the black and white video montage of domestic violence being screened. Songs like "Hurt" and "Beautiful" had fans swooning.

The hurt she felt from her father, Aguilera said, was what made her strong enough to get what she wants from life. "Nobody was going to stop me from what I was going to do," she said to a roar of cheers.

There was another stark video for "I Got Trouble", but this time Aguilera was posing with legs wide open. The vulgarity was designed to hammer home the point: she's a woman who nothing can stop.

But she has in fact tempered her sexiness with a certain elegance since the second album, videos for which were bulging with body parts. Riding a carousel horse while performing "Dirty", she didn't dance with the upright pole as you might expect.

"I wrote these songs specifically for all the females out there," she announced. "It's okay for women to express themselves as they are!"

Then she kicked into "Still Dirty" and "Can't Hold Us Down", her girl-power staples.

She ended the show with "Fighter", further bolstering the fans' courage, and left them with the words "I love you, Bangkok". Everyone stood waiting for an encore, reluctant to leave, the affection mutual.

Artists often transform themselves over time, seemingly never quite sure of who they are, but Christina Aguilera has found the perfect mirror right in front of her. For now at least. Who knows? With the swings in popular culture today, she might just go heavy metal on us - or maybe country!


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