"Lotus"The past two years have been rough on Christina Aguilera. She was involved in an ugly divorce with her husband of five years, starred in a godawful musical, and landed a two-bit job as a judge for NBC’s The Voice. For most that would spell disaster—too much of a PR mess to recover from—but for Christina it was just the type of drama she needed to fuel her 7th studio album, Lotus. It would seem that those life experiences would provide enough fodder to pen a deeply personal album, to which some extent it does, but in the end it plays out like every other project she’s released. Here are five lyrics that reflect the highs and lows of the past two years.

Blank Page

Blank Page

There’s never been a question as to whether or not Christina can sing. She can. And as it stands is one of the most skilled vocalists out there now. But it’s more about image than anything else. In “Blank Page” she strips away all the stylistic makeup of the glitterati, and belts out a truly heartfelt ballad. Likely related to her divorce, this one hits a strong emotional note. She’s on the verge of falling over the edge, but instead of kicking and screaming she willingly recounts the painful memories, making this the most honest song on the album: [LISTEN]

How can I erase decisions I’ve made
How do I go back what more can I say
All that remains are hearts filled with shame

 

Sing for Me

Sing for Me

Once again Christina wears her heart on her sleeve, resulting in an unabashed emotional outpour. Here she’s lamenting over her loneliness, but at this point in the album it’s really hard to buy what it is she’s selling. There’s too much inconsistency from one song to the next, which stilts the dialogue just enough to question the authenticity of it all. She’s asking for a pity party, and it’s way too contrived to stir up any real sympathy: [LISTEN]

I stand and believe in who I am
Take shots at my heart but who am I to give up
Everybody needs a melody to set their souls free

 

Let There Be Love

Let there be Love

Some say love is a never ending tragedy, one with an infinite number of twists and turns. But when you’ve been singing about the same damn thing for the past 13 years like Christina has, its hard not to wonder if the lack of progress should fall upon the muse or the poet. Lyrically “Let There Be Love” hits one note and stays there with little to no variation. The beat trudges along predictably, and by the end all that remains is the sour taste of uninspired nostalgia. More lazy than it is timeless: [LISTEN]

Let there be let there be love
Here in the here in the dark
Turning me tuning me on

 

Circles

Circles

Every Christina Aguilera album has that one song that declares her as an official badass, a no nonsense right cross to all those who stand in her way. It’s just a bit daunting, however, how at this juncture in her career she still finds it necessary to brandish that sort of attitude, proud to be a fool and happy to embrace immaturity. Aguilera’s talents are superior than most pop stars, and it’s a shame seeing her descend to this sort of tomfoolery: [LISTEN]

Use my name as your claim to fame
Got my seal of success
I’m your bread

 

 ’Red Hot Kinda Love

Red Hot Kinda Love

It’s a bit strange hearing a grown woman say that she’s so smitten with a man she feels like she’s fifteen again. Creepiness factor aside, it shows just how much Christina is living in the past here. The entire album wrestles with the pain of memories, and the fact that she’s never reconciled some of these emotions result in a tasteless cocktail of hope and desperation. The song is erratic at best, and seems to float around listlessly amongst other disjointed efforts. “Red Hot Kinda Love” is the embodiment of all these thoughtless contradictions: [LISTEN]

Feeling like fifteen again
No I won’t lie
Boy I’m on fire