First Hit #1: October 14, 2000
While I don’t believe Christina Aguilera grew up in gospel choirs, her voice has a definite gospel quality to it. She sings with a force that feels like a girl who is trying to reach the very heavens, and she also has a voice that’s oddly at odds for the low effort pop that she’s saddled with it. Her voice gives Come on Over a force of will that’s almost inappropriate for a song that’s basically about a starlet wanting to have sexy sex with sexy boys. The frivolity of the lyrics and production – which is kind of low-rent pop, the kind reserved for a second-tier pop musician – contrasts with Aguilera’s determined and forceful vocal. She’s pretty much forcing the song to be more than second tier pop music.
She’s not quite as powerful as Whitney Houston, for example, she can’t make the song essential by sheer force of will. She can, however, make an otherwise pretty dull track somewhat compelling and catchy solely through her vocal power. She’s a voice that is forced by circumstances and time to be saddled to songs much less interesting and vital than it deserves. The trends of 2000, or at least the trends of teen pop at the time, were really at odds with the kind of performance she could give.
She did eventually find the right sound for her voice, on the outright excellent Back to Basics. Then again, that didn’t have any number ones, so what do I know?