★★★★☆ | It’s been 6 agonising years of waiting for Christina Aguilera fans all over the world as the pop icon has been teasing and “promising” a new album since 2013 after her last, “Lotus”, was barely promoted and hardly made a wave on any charts. But finally, she is back.
“Accelerate” is the first single from her upcoming album, titled Liberation, featuring hot-right-now rappers Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz and it is a certainly a surprise, to say the least. The majority of people may have expected the lead single to be an uptempo, sexual pop-club banger with an iconic hook, lots of melisma and big belts in the vein of “Dirrty”, “Not Myself Tonight” and “Your Body”, but what we are served instead is a sexy, mid-tempo, urban-influenced sound with reigned in, sultry vocals.
Tribal-inspired drums and bass beats kickstart the song before Christina rap-sings the first verse in a style similar to Beyoncé in “7/11” and “Formation”, just in a much less brash way. “New York, worldwide / Borders my city / Just pulled up to the hotel / All my day ones here with me”, she says as Ty Dolla $ign echoes in the background. Throughout the song she rarely transitions into her singing voice, save for the chorus and ending but when she does she ironically keeps it no higher than second gear. The song talks of a hook-up, which is not so different to her previous lead singles except for “Ain’t No Other Man”, but this time the lyrics are slightly more subtle. “Accelerate, c’mon babe / Pick up your speed / Stamina, fill me up / That’s what I need”, coos Xtina seductively in the chorus which is unusually short but still addictive.
2 Chainz guest raps the bridge, though his presence is perhaps unnecessary and adds little to the song, which seems to take a good chunk of 30 seconds we could have had of Christina singing instead. The last minute of the track has Christina bringing the tempo down even further in an almost breathy, post-sex kind of way as she repeats “ooh ooh ooh / ooh ooh ooh” and ends with hypnotically pretty, harmonised falsetto runs that fans may be feel are similar to songs like “Sex For Breakfast” from “Bionic”.
“Accelerate” may not be what most were expecting to hear, but with Christina she’s proven time and time again you can never know what to expect from her. Once described as “caviar ratchet” by producers Da Internz (who as of yet are unconfirmed as to whether their songs with her made the final cut), Christina’s new sound appears to be just that – a much more electro-R&B and hip-hop driven style that has moved with the current trend of pop music. Although reminiscent of younger pop stars’ efforts who cite her as an influence, such as Ariana Grande’s “Into You” and “Good For You” by Selena Gomez, “Accelerate” is a mature, erotically-charged cut that still cements her as a force to be reckoned with, with her richer, unmistakable tone setting her apart. It might not have everyone slut-dropping and gyrating hard in the clubs (though it may inspire some slow, sexual dancing and making out), but its a grower after several listens when you have to accept that this particular song of hers does not include climactic and almost impossibly hard to copy high notes.
The song’s music video, directed by Zoey Grossman, features Christina in little to no makeup similar to her recent Paper magazine cover shoot and is a combination of slightly trippy and slightly arousing but also somewhat minimalistic. Gone are the controversially revealing clothes except for a blazer and nothing else underneath, and brief shots of bare breasts with nipple tape, and instead we get a very simple and casual street look from her. Though the video is predominantly in black and white, we get the odd shot of Xtina in colour under pink-hued lighting as she suggestively smothers her lips and tongue in glitter and drenches herself in what we can only guess is lots of lube but sure looks Dirrty as fuck.
The single is available to download and stream and the video is now on YouTube. “Liberation”, which includes a much-anticipated collaboration with fellow big-voiced diva Demi Lovato called “Fall In Line”, is out on 15th June. Whether or not we do get to hear the songstress’ more signature vocal styling on the rest of the album though – which we’re sure will be on the aforementioned duet with Demi, is something we’ll just have to await impatiently for.