Early YearsAguilera was born in Staten Island, New York, but grew up primarily in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Her father is of Ecuadorian descent and her mother is from Newfoundland and of remote Irish descent; both are fluent in Spanish. They met while he was serving on Earnest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, Newfoundland.
As a teenager, Aguilera sang the National Anthem before Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates games. In 1988, she appeared on Star Search but she didn't win. Her breakthrough came in 1992 when she joined The New Mickey Mouse Club Co-stars included Britney Spears, as well as Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, who went on to join NSYNC, and Keri Russell, who would on to become the star of Felicity.
Her first song was recorded in Japan, but she only caught the attention of Americans when she released the song "Reflection" for the Disney animated production of Mulan (1998). The video clip featured a young Christina with a bob hair cut. The song prompted RCA to offer her a contract.
"Genie in a Bottle" - chart successHer self-titled album was released in 1999 and reached the top of the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts selling eight million albums in the US. "Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants" and "Come on Over Baby (All I Want is You)" all reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999 and 2000 and "I Turn to You" went top 5 in the US. Aguilera won the "Grammy Award for Best New Artist" in the Grammy Awards of 2000.
In the year 2000 she emphasized her Latino heritage, following the Latino trend of the time, by releasing her first Latin album, Mi Reflejo. At this time she claimed to have been learning Spanish. This album was a version of her debut album in Spanish and reached number 27 on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Latin album charts. The single "Falsas Esperanzas" from the album reached the top 40 in Argentina in 2001. Ricky Martin asked her to a duet with him on "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely" on his Sound Loaded album released in late 2000. The song was released as the second single in 2001 going top 5 in the UK, top 10 in the US and top 40 in Canada, Switzerland and Australia.
The move towards a raunchier image was shown in her appearance in the video for "Lady Marmalade" which showed her, Lil Kim, Pink and Mya dressed in lingerie. The track was produced by Timbaland and Missy Elliott and appeared on the soundtrack for the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!. The song, a remake of the 1975 hit by LaBelle, went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. The song also topped in Australia with the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack being the best selling album of 2001 in that country.
Stripped - career developmentHer second official English-language album was Stripped. This features many interludes, one before the track "Infatuation", which features her speaking Spanish, and a duet with Alicia Keys; however, Aguilera cannot speak Spanish fluently yet - even though she is learning Spanish - as she forgot the language while growing up.
By the year 2002, however, her previously heralded vocals were much overlooked as she began to change her fresh, youthful image into that of a highly sexualized woman with hip-hop and porn-star influences. After the release of that album, she has taken part in photo shoots for the magazines Maxim, Rolling Stone, and Cosmo Girl. Many of these photographs featured her nude or semi-nude. At the same time, Aguilera began to cultivate a more sexually provocative image. She denied that this change was a matter of publicity, claiming that the erotic emphasis better reflected her true personality than did the image she cultivated in 1999. She told German paper Netzeitung, "I like having sex. It's fun....I love experimenting with my sexuality. I want to try out as much as possible. It would be wrong of me to hide this side of my personality. I have fun being sexy and tough at the same time."
The video for her 2002 single "Dirrty" featured her writhing with members of both sexes including a female-only shower scene in which she was wearing only a thong and a bra. As she puts it, "I like the way I am. This is how I bring out my sexuality."
The "Dirrty" video also made the news when the government of Thailand banned the video from national television, because a pair of posters that appear in the background of the boxing ring advertise, in the Thai language, the sex tourism and underage girls of Thailand. The producers and director of the video claimed to be ignorant of the meaning of the posters. She is currently banned from entering Thailand as it is considered to have offended the Thai people.
Musical peers such as Shakira, Jessica Simpson, and Kelly Osbourne criticized the video, but Aguilera responded by pointing out, "I may have been the naked-ass girl in the video, but if you look at it carefully, I'm also at the forefront. I'm not just some lame chick in a rap video; I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything around me. To be totally balls-out like that is, for me, the measure of a true artist."
Ironically, the new raunchy image seems to have negatively affected the sales of the album at least in the US when released in late 2002. While the album debuted at number 2 on the UK album charts and number 3 in Canada, it made a low entry given the success of her debut album. However, the success of subsequent singles off the album meant that Stripped reached a peak of number 2 on the Billboard 200 in 2004. The staying power of the album was also shown in the UK when the album was consistently in the top 20 of the album charts between late 2002 and early 2004. The album is quadruple platinum in Australia despite only reaching a peak of number 7 - again a reflection of its consistency between late 2002 and 2004.
There have been a number of hit singles from Stripped including:
- "Dirrty", the first single featuring rapper Redman went to number one in the UK, Ireland and was a top ten hit in the Netherlands, Spain and Australia - it only reached number 48 on the Billboard Hot100 reflecting the early sales backlash;
- "Beautiful" went to number 1 in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada as well as the US top 40 and adult contemporary charts - it reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100;
- "Fighter" went to number 20 in the US and reached top 5 on world airplay charts performing well in countries such as Canada, Australia and Argentina;
- "Can't Hold Us Down" another collaboration with Lil Kim was another top 5 hits on world airplay charts and reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100; and
- "The Voice Within" was another strong track on worldwide radio becoming the second most played track on European radio in early 2004 and reached number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- "Beautiful" earned Christina Aguilera the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 2004. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) presented a special award for inclusion to her in February 2003 for the positive images of gay and transgender people.
In early 2003 Aguilera aroused much comment when she gained a noticeable amount of weight. Aguilera was quoted as saying, "I couldn't care less about stupid diets. Eating is sensual and fun. I'm not going to let it be spoiled by calorie counting." Whether she will be able to reconcile this attitude to her sexually-charged image remains to be seen.
In June 2003, she began a tour with Justin Timberlake, called the "Justified & Stripped" tour. In the fall of that year, she toured Germany. During the tour she dyed her hair black.
Aguilera opened up a new vein of controversy in Autumn 2003 by viciously attacking fellow teen-pop musicians. She told Blender magazine, "Look at people like Beyoncé or Britney. They're desperate to come across as sweet, good little girls, but then you see them in photo shoots that are extremely sexual—tight little booty shorts, and not much else. So why do they try to be virginal in interviews?" Concerning her most formidable rival, Britney Spears, she claimed, "These people aren't artists; they're just performers—fake and superficial...I was up for kissing Britney, but Britney wasn't. She was....she seemed very distant, even during rehearsals. Every time I tired to start a conversation with her—well, let's just say she seemed nervous the whole time. I wanted to reach out to her, because I feel she needs somebody in her life right now to help guide her."