- Back to Basics (Christina Aguilera album)
Back to Basics Studio album by Christina Aguilera Released August 10, 2006
(see release history)
Recorded January 2005–April 2006 Genre R&B, soul, blues, jazz Length 46:55 (Disc one)
31:47 (Disc two)
78:43 (Both discs)
Label RCA Producer Christina Aguilera (also exec.), Ben Allen, Big Tank, Charles Roane, DJ Premier, Kwamé, Linda Perry, Rich Harrison, Mark Ronson, L Boogie, Tony Reyes, Q Christina Aguilera chronology Stripped
Back to Basics
Singles from Back to Basics
Back to Basics is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Christina Aguilera, first released on August 10, 2006 by RCA Records. The album features what Aguilera describes as "a throwback to the 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist." The album has yielded three commercial singles: "Ain't No Other Man", "Hurt" and "Candyman". "Slow Down Baby" was used as a promotional single to promote her tour in Australia and "Oh Mother" was released as the album's fourth single in some parts of Europe. The album made Aguilera's second U.S. non-consecutive number-one album. The album received a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards and won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Other Man". It was her first album to reach number one album in the United States after 1999's "Christina Aguilera", selling 346,000 copies in the U.S. and 615,000 copies worldwide in the first week.
- 1 Background
- 2 Music and lyrics
- 3 Artworks shooting
- 4 Promotion
- 5 Critical reception
- 6 Chart performance
- 7 Controversy
- 8 Track listing
- 9 Credit and personnel
- 10 Charts, sales and procession
- 11 Release history
- 12 References
Aguilera started studio sessions in 2005 as a follow-up to her second album, Stripped, released in 2002. Aguilera explained that her break in her musical career is to take her time, so when she is back, she has a lot more to say about the happenings of her life. Aguilera explained that she also wanted to bring something novel to her album which has 24 songs on it. Aguilera wanted to try and evolve as an artist and a visionary. Aguilera worked with hip hop producers DJ Premier, who had previous works with Notorious B.I.G., Nas, among others, Rich Harrison, Kwamé, Mark Ronson for the first time, and Linda Perry, with whom she had also worked on her previous studio album Stripped. As early as June 2006, Aguilera and the production team have been working together for months. Aguilera described to Premier what she wanted to create in the new effort and presented CDs of joints to listen to, like Al Green and Aretha Franklin. In June 2006, Aguilera already recorded tracks enough for a two-disc album, but reduced to make it only one and affordable. However, on the 2006 MTV Movie Awards, Aguilera revealed that the new album will include two discs. DJ Premier revealed that when he was contacted for working with Aguilera he admitted that he didn't expect a pop artist to work with him and asked himself if she even had an idea who he was. But Aguilera was familiar with some of Premier's jazz-influenced work with Gang Starr in the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially the song "Jazz Thing and that was the tune Aguilera wanted to create for her upcoming album. Aguilera stated that she wasn't totally sure whether DJ Premier would accept the offer, because it was the first time that he would enter into the "pop" world.
Music and lyrics
Aguilera took inspiration for the production of the album from Billie Holiday, 90's R&B, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. Aguilera was exposed to soul, jazz and blues records when she was a child because her mother used to bring her to look for vintage records. The songs in the two-disc album are constructed in different style. The first disc is a throwback album with elements of '20s, '30s, and '40s blues and jazz with a modern-day twist, largely produced by beat-oriented producers, like DJ Premier. It is also more "fakeness-driven" (as Aguilera stated on the Back to Basics CD enhanced video). Most songs employ record sampling except "Without You", "F.U.S.S.", and "Still Dirrty". The second disc is kept authentic, sticking to a really raw, old-soul sound. The songs are all live records except "Candyman" Which features samples the military cadence "Tarzan & Jane Swingin' on a Vine", sampled from the album Run to Cadence with the United States Marines, Volume 2 and they were mostly written by Aguilera and Perry; however, the theme remains organically vintage. "There are no samples - It's all live music, except for Candyman", Aguilera related about the second disc. The record also use elements with a 1920s circus theme.
"The first half of the album is kind of a throwback with elements of jazz, blues and soul music combined with a modern-day twist, like hard-hitting beats. And for the second disc, we [Aguilera and Perry] creatively went into our own zone and our own world together. There are no cover songs, so we made more of a '20s, '30s vibe with an authentic and organic twist. There are no samples — it's all live music. One of the songs sounds like you entered a 1920s burlesque club, another song sounds like it was actually recorded in the 1920s, using a vintage microphone, so it's exciting stuff."—Christina Aguilera, MTV
When Aguilera was asked why she chose DJ Premier as the main producer of the first disc she answered following "The thing that I try to do with each record, I don't necessarily go to the main people that are the No. 1 chart-toppers in music, to the obvious person, say, the Neptunes, Pharrell or Lil Jon. I really like to go someplace different that people haven't approached." The opening track, "Makes Me Wanna Pray", features adult-contemporary mainstay Steve Winwood.
Lyrically, when she started writing on the new disc, she incorporated her real life to the songs. She, however, quoted that, in her lead single "Ain't No Other Man", it does not speak about love. However, songs which were influenced heavily from Aguilera's husband were "Save Me From Myself." "Still Dirrty", a track in the first disc co-worked with Nas, is a sequel to her 2002 single "Dirrty", which was panned by critics for its controversial music video, taking her to the forefront showing sexual fetishes. In the track, Aguilera reminisces the plight of her career when she did the record. The beat, however, is different from its predecessor; it is jazz-sampled backed with horns. In "Oh Mother" Aguilera describes the household abuse and praises her mother's bravery and courage in the face of her father's abuse. According to Billboard it's not just a tribute to her mother, but she feels a responsibility to share the "darker" sides of her life, because people could relate to the song and might not feel as alone in the circumstance. In the track "Back in the Day" Aguilera is talking about all the soul singers that she listened to as a child and pays homage to her idols, dropping names like Otis Redding, Gladys Knight and Billie Holiday, and praises them as "ground breakers", "innovators", and "originators". On the last song "Thank You" of the first disc Aguilera combines a sample of her past hits "Genie In A Bottle" and "Can't Hold Us Down" with messages from Aguilera's fans and was produced as a thank you for the support of Aguilera's fans.
When Aguilera started working on Back to Basics, she was not just inspired by the sounds of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, but the look of those eras as well. When she began shooting for the artwork of the album, she cited Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Judy Garland, Greta Garbo, Veronica Lake, among others as her inspirations.
"With the first setup, we just wanted to [give the photographs] warm lighting, very inviting, just kind of relaxed, an old-Hollywood feel where you're kind of in the bed but also being really inviting, [because] I'm kind of smiling," Aguilera explained. "For the Stripped record it was a very real and honest place for me, but it was also a darker place. So I feel really lifted, things are lighter for me. I'm happier now than I've ever really been."—Christina Aguilera, MTV
Aguilera handpicked German photographer Ellen von Unwerth, who has captured Janet Jackson and Penelope Cruz, for the photo sessions. They spent three days beginning at a historic hotel called the Hollywood Dell. Aguilera spent most of the first day shooting in a bed, peering through the iron bars of a headboard; a shot inspired by a famous Marilyn Monroe picture. Later, the image featuring Aguilera in white dress and lounging at the bed was used as the album's cover, an image shot on the same session. The production group used warm lighting. On the second day, Aguilera used more dressed up outfits. For the third day session, Aguilera and Unwerth went to a Forty Deuce, a Hollywood hot-spot that puts a modern twist on a 1920s burlesque club. They set up the vibe to create an old jazzy blues club. In the session, Aguilera also shot a series of pictures with four Navy sailors.
Aguilera started promotion of Back to Basics on June 3, 2006, when she performed the album's lead single "Ain't No Other Man" at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles. On June 15, 2006 she visited Total Request Live and showed a preview of the video for her first single. Six days later she attended the TV show again and premiered the whole clip.
In July Aguilera hold two private concerts in Europe, one on July 17 at the Olympia in Paris and the other one on July 20 at the KOKO Club in London. The setlist consisted of four new tracks and two old singles: "Ain’t No Other Man", "Understand", "Candyman", "Lady Marmalade", "Oh Mother", "Beautiful" and "Slow Down Baby". The gig at KOKO club was filmed and has been later shown several times on the UK channel T4. During the stay in London she appeared at the MTV show 1 Leicester Square with Russell Brand, where she talked about her upcoming album and her family plans.
Aguilera appeared at Marquee on August 15 in New York City for her album release party. In celebration of Christina Aguilera’s new album Back To Basics being released, MTV aired a special featuring the singer discussing the project and performing several songs. On 16 August 2006 Aguilera performed "Ain't No Other Man" at the "Late Show with David Letterman". On the same day she took part at the "Good Morning America Summer Concert Series" and performed there three songs. At the 2006 Video Music Awards she performed "Hurt", the second single of the album. Although she was nominated for "Ain't No Other Man" in four categories including "Video of the Year", she didn't win any. In September she was invited at the charity event Fashion Rocks and performed "Candyman" and later "Bennie and the Jets" with Elton John. On November 15, 2006 Aguilera inaugurated "Nissan Live Sets on Yahoo! Music", a bi-monthly show with performances in front of a live studio audience, where she performed 7 songs. At the same time, she started promoting "Hurt" at shows like Saturday Night Live, the "NBC Christmas Thanksgiving Special" and the German show Wetten, dass..?.
On February 11, 2007 Aguilera paid tribute to James Brown, who died in December 2006, performing his hit single "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards. The day before she sang "Makes Me Wanna Pray" and "Candyman" at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Awards Party. Aguilera started the promotion of "Candyman", performing at the "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin Eve" on December 31, 2006 and then on shows like The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and at the NBA All-Star Game Vegas Half Time. She ended the promotion of the album, after the performances at the "MUZ-TV Awards", singing "Ain't No Other Man", "Hurt", "Candyman" and "Fighter".
Before and after the album's release, Aguilera shot covers for Elle, GQ, GQ UK, Advocate, Allure, Attitude, Blender, Cosmogirl, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Jane, AARP, Seventeen, Rolling Stone, InStyle and Maxim. Additionally she was featured on the cover of Nylon's 8th anniversary magazine. Most of the cover stories focused on the album, on Aguilera's new direction, her marriage and her "naked sundays". Her Allure Magazine cover became the biggest-selling issue in the magazine's history. The Swedish issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine featured a freebie with the albums fourth single "Slow Down Baby".
The album spawned five official singles released over a period of 14 months. The first, "Ain't No Other Man", was released in June 2006 to critical acclaim and a successful run on many world charts. It is deemed as Aguilera's comeback single, peaking in the top ten in countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Canada. In late Autumn, the ballad Hurt was released as the 2nd single. The chart reaction was mixed as it became hugely successful in Europe while barely cracking the top 20 in the United States, but it was certified Gold. In the early spring of 2007, "Candyman" was released as the third single. The single was certified Gold in the United States, but only managed to hit #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 due to stalling radio airplay. Elsewhere, "Candyman" achieved mild to moderate success, becoming one of Christina's biggest hits in Canada and Australia. Probably due to the pregnancy news, the label decided to not release a worldwide single, because it would have needed a lot of promotion, and so it has been released two airplay singles. "Slow Down Baby" was released as the album's fourth single on July 30, 2007 in Australia. It was not released in Europe but "Oh Mother" was released instead on November 23, 2007 in some parts of Europe. "Save Me From Myself" was released as a limited time single, as an "celebration" for her new born baby, on January 12, 2008. The single was released as an DVD which consists it's music video and an audio version of it, the music video was directed by Paul Korver.
- North America and World
- "Ain't No Other Man"
- "Ain't No Other Man"
- "Oh Mother"
- Oceania and the Philippines
- "Ain't No Other Man"
- "Slow Down Baby"
The Back to Basics Tour took place in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania in 2006 and 2007. The tour consisted in 80 shows worldwide. In 2008 she continued the tour visiting Eastern Europe and Abu Dhabi. This was considered the best tour of Aguilera, but some critics dismissed it very promiscuous, due to the high sexual. The tour grossed $90 million, and attended around 1.3 million fans. In Australia, the Melbourne concert had to be canceled, and was replaced with a concert, in Canberra, the capital of the country. The whole tour was promoted by mobile phone network Orange and Sony Ericsson.
Professional ratings Review scores Source Rating Allmusic  Blender  Entertainment Weekly (B+) The Guardian  The New York Times (mixed) The Observer  PopMatters (7/10) Rolling Stone  Slant Magazine  Stylus Magazine (B)
iTunes later named it as the Best Pop Album of the Year beating out this year's release by FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake and B'Day by Beyoncé Knowles. Critically, the album was a success with a rating of 69/100 (generally positive reviews) on the website MetaCritic and is Aguilera's best reviewed album to date, receiving more praise than her second studio album Stripped which scored a 55/100 on MetaCritic. When Entertainment Weekly published their June issue of the 100 best albums of the last 25 years, Back to Basics was listed at number 80.
Back to Basics reached number one in over fifteen countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. Debuting at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart. The album also debuted at number two on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart. The album sold 346,000 copies in its first week the U.S., as well as the 1st biggest first week sales by a female artist in 2006 at the time of its release . To date, the album has sold over 1.7 million copies in the U.S.Back to Basics is also Aguilera's first album to debut at the top spot in the United Kingdom and it remained 33 weeks in the Top 75. The album was certified on 15 November 2006 for shipping over 300,000 copies. The album has been certified Gold in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Austria, Poland, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Italy and the Czech Republic. It has moreover conquered the worldwide market, catching up and exceeding the threshold of Platinum in the following nations: the UK, Germany, Switzerland, United States, Singapore, New Zealand, Belgium, Hungary and has been certified Triple Platinum in Canada, Ireland and Russia. After being certified 2× platinum in Australia, Back to Basics appeared at number forty-five on the ARIA 2006 Year-End Charts.
Before the production of Back to Basics had started, producer Scott Storch, who produced and co-wrote a number of songs for Aguilera's previous studio album Stripped, including "Walk Away", "Can't Hold Us Down", "Infatuation", "Fighter", "Loving Me 4 Me", "Keep On Singin' My Song", and "Underappreciated", was asked to be involved in Aguilera's upcoming project too. However, he refused to be a part of the project when Aguilera declined to pay airfare for him and his entourage to fly out to her, amongst other demands, which led to a breakdown of their relationship. In June 2006, before the album came out, Storch told Rolling Stone, "I had to bring equipment, clothes, my people. You want me to move my life from Miami to L.A. for six months, and you can't get me a plane to do it? She didn't go to bat for me. And I truly cared about her as a person and a friend and as an artist." Aguilera decided to dedicate him a song and produced later on a song called "F.U.S.S." (F*** You Scott Storch , and reported to be For You Scott Storch), saying "That’s a way of burying my experience with him. We did great work on Stripped... When I tried to work with him again, he made uncalled-for demands. It was disappointing that someone would get affected like that." Scott Storch was offended by the song and declared in an interview with InTouch Magazine, "It's pretty pathetic that she would do a song like this. I worked on half of her last CD and sold her millions of copies. Obviously she cares more than I do that I didn't do this album, but I can't blame her, with an album full of fillers, over-singing, and lame Vegas-like cabaret music."
Track listing and credits from album booklet.
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length 1. "Intro (Back to Basics)" Christina Aguilera, Christopher Martin, Kara DioGuardi, Roy Hawkins, Rick Darnell DJ Premier, Christina Aguilera^ 1:47 2. "Makes Me Wanna Pray" (featuring Steve Winwood) Aguilera, DioGuardi, Rich Harrison, Steve Winwood Rich Harrison, Christina Aguilera^ 4:10 3. "Back in the Day" Aguilera, Martin, DioGuardi, Don Costa, Jimmy Castor, Langdon Fridle, Jr., Douglas Gibson, Harry Jensen, Robert Manigault, Gerald Thomas DJ Premier, Christina Aguilera^ 4:13 4. "Ain't No Other Man" Aguilera, Martin, DioGuardi,
Charles Roane, Harold Beatty
DJ Premier, Roane*, Christina Aguilera^ 3:49 5. "Understand" Aguilera, DioGuardi, Kwamé
Holland, Allen Toussaint
Kwamé 3:46 6. "Slow Down Baby" Aguilera, Mark Ronson, DioGuardi, Raymond Angry, William Guest, Merald Knight, Edward Patton, Gladys Knight, Marvin Bernard, Michael Harper, Curtis Jackson Mark Ronson, Christina Aguilera^ 3:29 7. "Oh Mother" Aguilera, Derryck Thornton, Mark Rankin, Liz Thornton, DioGuardi, Bruno Coulais, Christophe Barratier Big Tank, Q, L Boggie*, Christina Aguilera^ 3:47 8. "F.U.S.S." Aguilera, Roane, DioGuardi Roane, Christina Aguilera^ 2:21 9. "On Our Way" Aguilera, D. Thornton, Rankin, L. Thornton, DioGuardi Big Tank, Q, L Boogie*, Christina Aguilera^ 3:37 10. "Without You" Aguilera, DioGuardi, Ronson, Rob Lewis Ronson, Christina Aguilera^ 3:57 11. "Still Dirrty" Aguilera, Martin, DioGuardi DJ Premier, Christina Aguilera^ 3:46 12. "Here to Stay" Aguilera, Heather Holley, Tony Reyes, Ben Allen, George Henry Jackson Tony Reyes, Ben Allen, Christina Aguilera^ 3:20 13. "Thank You (Dedication to Fans...)" Aguilera, Martin, DioGuardi, Pamela Sheyne, David Frank, Steve Kipner DJ Premier, Christina Aguilera^ 4:59Total length: 46:55
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length 1. "Enter the Circus" (performed by Linda Perry) Aguilera, Linda Perry Linda Perry 1:42 2. "Welcome" Aguilera, Perry, Ronson, Paul Ill Linda Perry 2:43 3. "Candyman" Aguilera, Perry Linda Perry 3:14 4. "Nasty Naughty Boy" Aguilera, Perry Linda Perry 4:45 5. "I Got Trouble" Aguilera, Perry Linda Perry 3:42 6. "Hurt" Aguilera, Perry, Ronson Linda Perry 4:03 7. "Mercy on Me" Aguilera, Perry Linda Perry 4:33 8. "Save Me from Myself" Aguilera, Perry, Bill Bottrell Linda Perry 3:13 9. "The Right Man" Aguilera, Perry Linda Perry 3:51Total length: 31:47
^ Additional production * Co-producer
- Disc one's opening track, "Intro (Back to Basics)" contains a sample of "The Trill is Gone (Live)", as performed by B.B. King, The Crusaders and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Track two on disc one, "Makes Me Wanna Pray" contains a sample from "Glad", as performed by Traffic.
- Track three on disc one, "Back in the Day" contains samples from "Charlie", as performed by Don Costa Orchestra, and "Troglodyte", as performed by The Jimmy Castor Buch.
- Track four on disc one, "Ain't No Other Man" contains samples from "Happy Skippy Moon Strut", as performed by Moon People, and "The Cissy's Thang", as performed by The Soul Seven.
- Track five on disc one, "Understand" contains a sample from "Nearer to You", as performed by Betty Harris.
- Track six on disc one, "Slow Down Baby" contains samples from "Window Raisin' Granny", as performed by Gladys Knight & the Pips and "So Seductive", as performed by Tony Yayo.
- Track seven on disc one, "Oh Mother" contains a sample from "Vois Sur Ton Chemin", written by Bruno Coluais and Christopher Barratler.
- Track nine on disc one, "On Our Way" contains a sample from "Sentimentale", as performed by Claude Bolling.
- Track twelve on disc one, "Here to Stay" contains a sample from "The Best Thing You Ever Had", as performed by Candi Staton.
- Track thirteen on disc one, "Thank You (Dedication to Fans...)" contains samples from "Can't Hold Us Down" and "Genie in a Bottle", as performed by Aguilera, and "Think Big", as performed by Pudgie the Fat Bastard featuring The Notorious B.I.G. The track also features fan club recordings by Shane Burrows, Jessica Cavanaugh, She-Tara Franklin, Michael Holmin, Warren Keller, Antoinette Litte, Gustavo Medina, Sarah Anne Moore, Joshua Pospisil, Cory Steale, Durant Searcy, Samantha Silver, Tammy Simpson and Shanna Nicole Wiles.
- Track three on disc two, "Candyman" contains a sample from "Tarzan & Jane Swingin' on a Vine" from Run To Cadence With U.S. Marines.
Credit and personnel
The following people contributed to Back to Basics:
- Vocals – Christina Aguilera
- Vocal Scratches - Tracie Burton, Kara DioGuardi, DJ Premier, Alan Mason.
- Choir: Christina Aguilera
- Keyboards - Tony Reyes & Mark Ronson.
- Bass - Paul Ill, Rob Lewis, Linda Perry, Tony Reyes, Mark Ronson.
- Double Bass – Francis Senger & Jason Torreano.
- Guitar - Bill Bottrell, Rob Lewis, Linda Perry, Mark Ronson, & Eric Schermerhorn.
- Executive Producer: Christina Aguilera.
- Management Of Production Of Sound: DJ Premier, Kwamé, Linda Perry, Rich Harrison, Mark Ronson, Big Tank & Q.
- Additional Micro-Management: Christina Aguilera (In Tracks from Disc One: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).
- Vocal Producer: Rob Lewis.
- Mastering: Brian Gardner.
- Engineers: Tal Herzberg, Linda Perry, Oscar Ramirez, Charles Martin Roane, Mark Ronson & DJ Premier, Jordan,
- Assistant Engineer : Kristofer Kaufman, Alan Mason & Chris Wonzer.
- A&R: Ron Fair.
- Photography: Ellen von Unwerth
- Art Direction & Design: Linda Perry
Charts, sales and procession
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