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TGJ Replay: Christina Aguilera’s ‘Stripped’ #TBT

Published: Thursday 26th Oct 2017 by Rashad

Welcome back to TGJ Replay!

Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment to act as a written quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday. Unlike its TGJ retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.

In honor of its 15th birthday (October 26), this week we’ll press play on Christina Aguilera‘s magnum opus:  ‘Stripped’…

Despite boasting vocal displays that drew comparisons to many of the great vocal divas before her, early 2002 still saw Grammy-winning powerhouse Christina Aguilera grouped in a class of vocally inferior songstresses due in great part to the similarities of their sonic and visual offerings.  At the top of the list of those comparisons lay Britney Spears, Aguilera’s fellow former Disney darling whose overnight success made her the gold standard among young female singers at the time.  And, while Christina’s respect in the industry (due to her soaring vocals) flew clouds above that of Spears, the beauties were branded rivals by the press and their respective fan bases – an implied conflict that later became reality.

To distance herself from her fluffier counterparts and demonstrate artistic growth, the then 21-year-old – having already “one-upped” Britney on the visual front by increasing the sexual undertone of her videos (see:  ‘Lady Marmalade’) – summoned a collection of hitmakers and collaborators to help create a new sound that would drive a greater sonic wedge between herself and her pop contemporaries.  Calling on the talents of Ron Fair, Rockwilder, Scott Storch, Alicia Keys, and many more, Aguilera – acting as executive producer – went to battle the dreaded sophomore slump with the project later christened, ‘Stripped.’

Released October 26, 2002, the album birthed five singles:  ‘Dirrty,’ ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Fighter,’ ‘Can’t Hold Us Down,’ and ‘The Voice Within.’

‘Dirrty’ ft. Redman

Chart Peak:  #48

‘Beautiful’

Chart Peak:  #2

‘Fighter’

Chart Peak:  #20

‘Can’t Hold Us Down’ 

Chart Peak:  #12

 

‘The Voice Within’

Chart Peak:  #33

‘Stripped’ could easily be classified as one of the – if not the – riskiest sophomore albums in the history of pop music.  For, rarely has history seen an artist – especially a top-selling act of Aguilera’s magnitude at the time – deviate so far “left” from a successful antedating album by incorporating little to no elements of it in its successor.  A polarizing move that proved lucrative on the critical front as some industry insiders and new fans praised her artistic maturity and newfound lyrical substance (see: ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Can’t Hold Us Down,’ ‘The Voice Within,’ etc.), others could not get past the shock value of her sexualized image and gave her entire package an unceremonious thumbs down.

Arguably, that disapproval was reflected in its commercial performance as well.  By no means a “flop” by any stretch of the imagination, two years after her least favorite Mouseketeer – Britney Spears – sold a whopping 1.3 million records the first week with her sophomore effort, ‘Oops…I Did It Again,’ ‘Stripped’ moved 330,000 its first week (Aguilera’s personal best at the time).  Even on the Hot 100, the domain the powerhouse singer had dominated Spears on with their respective debut projects, ‘Stripped’ only garnered one top 10 placement out of five singles.  This, compared to its predecessor, which placed four out of its four singles in the top 5 (three at #1).

Going on to see its content nominated for multiple Grammys across two years, the set’s only near chart-topper – ‘Beautiful’ – took home a Best Female Pop Vocal win in 2004.

As it stands, the album has sold over 10 million worldwide.  And, despite not knowing the chart success of its forerunner, will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest offerings of modern pop history.  Bold, lush, powerful, and a realistic, authentic sounding fusion of genres her contemporaries couldn’t even dream of emulating (see: pop, rock, blues, jazz, hip hop), ‘Stripped’ set the bar in Xtina’s career by giving her levels of creative control she’d previously not experienced.  Speaking more widely, it also set a new bar in the genre for what it meant to marry the concepts of style and substance (sonically and visually) in a teen pop dominated era.

On its 15th anniversary, we salute the album for its undeniable contribution to the game.  Now, as we press play on our jam ‘Loving Me For Me,’ we ask you:


Your thoughts?

Comments 27

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  1. Meme October 26, 2017

    Still listening to loving me for me to this day. My all time fav from her. Such an amazing record. Makes me feel so good!

  2. DanYiel Iman October 26, 2017

    She’s a total vocalist no matter what anyone say!!

  3. Ronnoc October 26, 2017

    One of the top 5 best albums of the noughties, IMO

  4. SMH October 26, 2017

    This still remains the best pop album of this current generation. Xtina’s slayage during this era was spectacular. Her pure talent was the driving force of this era; britney’s driving force was her looks and half naked persona, which is why she fizzled out so quick.

    • Caleb October 27, 2017

      But Christina faded out faster.

  5. China October 26, 2017

    LOVING ME 4 ME —-gives me all my life “he loves every curve, every inch of my skin”. CHRISTINA MISSED A MOMENT WITH – LOVING ME 4 ME. THE best song she has every done. STRIPPED is a masterpiece.

  6. China October 26, 2017

    Stripped is her Emancipation of Mimi moment. BOTH CLASSICS.

  7. Fancy BISH October 26, 2017

    I purchased this album, but I never really understood it…I was confused as to just WHAT was she fighting for…going against…the ability to say “I told you so” to label executives? Beautiful is, by FAR, the masterpiece of this album….and musically, it could work on a deluxe version of her first album…so just what were you fighting for again? Mariah brought all her ambitions for incorporating more R&B and Gospel for her second album back to center with Music Box…which is like the combination of her first two albums…she sold 28 million albums…then took that formula to Slaydream…unfortunately, Christina never brought it back to center….which is why I’m so confused with Christina’s career…you can fight to get your voice heard and certain records on the album…but don’t continue to have an anger and never a happy medium…why you so mad boo? Where’s the compromise? Whitney wanted more R&B and gospel on her third album and was allowed to do it…but she ALSO listened to Clive and understood that she was breaking down barriers for the heights that black artists could achieve (Mariah too) by doing pop songs…so when it came time to executive produce The Sladyguard, she brought it ALL back to center…all her knowledge…she knew her strengths, weaknesses…she knew her reach, her voice….sadly, it’s like Christina is fighting for more flops *Kimye shrug* GIRL, you ARE, and have been all your career, a beautiful “white” pop star with a soulful voice…whether you like it or not lol *Plays 702’s Get It Together*

  8. pkdjfn October 26, 2017

    Britney Spears still dominates Christina Aguilera because ‘Toxic’ and ‘Blackout’ were both more influential than both ‘Stripped’ and Christina Aguilera’s whole career.

    When will people learn?

    • Cough Cough October 26, 2017

      At least christina can be brought into a convo of musicality. Britney is never in that convo and dance wise isn’t there anymore either. Christina is far Britney’s superior.

      • erica October 26, 2017

        you say that & one of Britney albums is in the Rock & roll hall of fames, she’s not a singer like xtina but she damn sure more consistent musically

      • Cough Cough October 26, 2017

        Britney is not respected musically like Christina is, period. I don’t even like xtina like that but christina has respect in the pop world the vocal world the jazz/blues world… Britney does not. She’s literally a Vegas act now

      • pkdjfn October 26, 2017

        Cough Cough, Xtina hasn’t even toured since the George W. Bush Adminstration. Britney was the fourth best female touring act of the 2000s. Ahead of Beyonce and P!nk and only behind Madonna, Celine Dion and Cher. She has nothing to prove.

        Britney’s music brought underground dance music to the mainstream, which is what you see today, not blues/jazz Christina bullsh*T

        Britney is Christina’s FAR superior: MORE SUCCESSFUL AND MORE INFLUENTIAL.

      • Cough Cough October 26, 2017

        Pkdjfn: underground dance and underground dance music was brought to the mainstream by Janet Jackson and also Madonna, Michael Jackson.. Britney didn’t do anything but be a white, watered down version of Janet Jackson minus the meaningful music. You’re clearly delusional as underground dance music and basically everything else Britney brought to the table was already there. She’s never been known as a pioneer, dear. Stop it

      • pkdjfn October 26, 2017

        Cough Cough, black producers and black DJs say Britney Spears’ music brought underground music to the mainstream.

        “At that moment in time, you didn’t expect to hear chopped-up vocals on a pop song, even though that was something people in underground dance music were working on. Now, with the crossover between both worlds — like Major Lazer and their popularity — almost all pop music is slowed down, chopped up, extremely “cut and paste.” Nothing is straight anymore.”-DJ Innovator

        “We just kicked down the walls on what pop music is and set a different tone and that’s where the whole urban influence in pop music is I would say, definitely, because of that album.”-Danja

        “It ushered in new ways of processing vocals that felt genuinely bold, bizarre, and at times made you feel disturbed and uncomfortable.”-Robin Corolan, Tri Angle records

        Janet and Madonna have shaped Britney’s career; I’m saying for her generation, Britney dominates Christina in the most important aspects: More Successful and More Influential. And she’s more impactful than Beyonce for the 2000s. P!nk too (P!nk was an anti-Britney, so Britney wins)

        And the great ‘Toxic’ is not watered down anything, as it completely engulfs/overshadows anything Christina Aguilera has ever done.

      • erica October 26, 2017

        he’s referencing dubster & the dance music we here today not dance music period of course dance music been here before Britney but the way sound has change is a majorly from part of Britney Blackout album it was nothing like it at the time

  9. Cough Cough October 26, 2017

    Her best album and vocal peak. I love this album and even though she didn’t scream, she was young enough to where she could scream in key. Everything after this was way too many runs, way too many flat and sharp notes and all over the place image and album vision that has never recovered. Still dunno who she is to this day except that she sings far out of her range and it’s very hard to listen to now. She was cool back then though. Go on SCREAMtina

    • Fancy BISH October 26, 2017

      lol ☕️

  10. Francis October 26, 2017

    ‘Stripped’ is, without a doubt, Christina’s best album and one of the greatest pop records of the last decade. People say that Christina Aguilera is irrelevant, but this record is a blueprint for many pop tarts.

    The voice, the production, the lyrics, the performances, the tour, I mean, everything about this era was amazing.

    I don’t care if Christina doesn’t sell like she used to, as long as she delivers masterpieces like ‘Impossible’ or ‘Get Mine, Get Yours’.

    • Cough Cough October 26, 2017

      This album is a blueprint for nothing. The first pop princess to have this type of “from pop princess to dark image or s*** image” was Janet Jackson’s velvet rope and Mariah Carey’s butterfly. Those were the blueprint for this. Stripped was simply a great album by xtina but let’s not pretend like she was the first pop titan to go alternative.. lies

      • Francis October 26, 2017

        Yes, ‘Velvet Rope’ and ‘Butterfly’ were the blueprint for this, but ‘Stripped’ did the same for acts like Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato.

        Madonna, Mariah, Janet and others inspired Britney and Christina, now Britney and Christina inspire Miley, Demi, Selena and other acts. One day, as much as it costs you to admit, Miley, Demi and Selena will inspire a new crop of talent, it’s just how things go.

  11. jec2 October 26, 2017

    Beautiful never hit #1 on the hot 100. It only got to #2 and was blocked by B2K and JLo from the top spot. So she didn’t actually have a #1 for this album…as great as it is.

  12. Julian October 26, 2017

    This is THE album. Amazing from start to finish. This is definitely one of the albums that influenced me the most. The singles are almost basically all classics (it’s still mindblowing to me that they weren’t bigger hits in the US) and the whole ERA was absolutely perfect. One of the best pop albums of all time and easily the best of her generation, period. None of her peers ever even came close to touching this.

    • Francis October 26, 2017

      Preach 🙌🏻

  13. Justafan October 26, 2017

    Xtina was able to do this urban route thanks to MARIAH CAREY who paved the way

  14. Mary Thompson October 27, 2017

    Greatest singer of all times.

  15. Pop U. October 28, 2017

    Sis I’m listening to bionic right now thinking of how she ALWAYS does her own thing! I will say tho that when Gaga came along pop fans being as fickle as a toddler flipped on the bionic era and weren’t feeling it but boy is that album sonically diverse as was stripped. I love both Gaga and X Tina but pop fans…haha they will turn on you faster than idk what!

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