First Hit #1: July 31, 1999
In 1999, Christina Aguilera was considered to be some form of competition for Britney Spears. Both had a Disney background, both were breaking through with somewhat more sexual lyrics than you would expect from someone so young and so recently clean cut. In Aguilera’s case, we have a song that has no idea what message it wants to send. On one hand, there are many references to the protagonist wanting to be “released”, or have sex with someone, as becomes quickly plain. But then, it’s often followed by a line saying she doesn’t want any sex, because of various reasons and demands. It’s a song in conflict with itself, both overtly sexual and relatively modest. In a way, it’s following a theme of songs that recognize the conflict going on in the target market – a desire for sex, a desire for modesty, both ends in the midst of a fight to the death. It’s a song that openly addresses that dichotomy, though it does lean quite far in the direction of good ol’ fashioned intercourse. You just have to be good at, er, rubbing.
It’s also continuing a trend towards more minimal, basic beats, which contrasts with Aguilera’s own voice, as she wants to sing a Carey-esque big vocal and is layered over itself as she sings in slightly different parts of her range. It’s an intriguing contrast, and gives the song a bit of interest as well as being part of a slight shift in sound at the latter part of the decade, which has been rightly pointed out as one of the most stagnant in pop history.