This week the Throwback Thursday spotlight is on legendary Queen of Shade, Christina Aguilera.
Welcome back to #ThrowbackThursday!
Each week BreatheHeavy takes you into the darkest depths of our iTunes to honor some of the most unappreciated deep-cuts from your favorite pop acts. This week’s selection comes from the one and only Xtina and one of the best tracks from her third studio album, ‘Back to Basics’.
Christina Aguilera’s ‘Back to Basics’ was a decided change of pace for the “Dirrty” starlet. After embracing an extremely sexually provocative image and an urban, R&B sound for 2002’s ‘Stripped’, Xtina took us quite literally back to basics when she explored a more mellow, mature, soulful side of herself for her third record. Spawning hits like “Ain’t No Other Man”, “Hurt” and my personal favorite Christina track “Candyman”, ‘Back to Basics’ was my no means short on hits, but its real power still lies in its album tracks, specifically “Save Me From Myself”.
The song served as the penultimate track on the second disc of ‘BtB’ and still functions as a triumphant ending to a largely solid record (although, as with most Aguilera albums, it’d benefit from being a good four or five tracks shorter). “Save Me From Myself”, penned by Christina, Bill Bottrell and “Beautiful” writer Linda Perry, is unlike anything Xtina had recorded up to that point, and indeed unlike anything she’s recorded since.
Lyrically, the track deals with a relationship so healing and so formative that it saves you from your own self-destructive tendencies – dedicated to Christina’s first husband, Jordan Bratman, it is easily one of Aguilera’s most personal endeavours, which is impressive given how candid Xtina is with moments like “Oh Mother”, “I’m OK” and “Hurt”. Featuring a sparse instrumental, formed only of an acoustic guitar and simple violin, it’s a beautiful way to draw ‘Back to Basics’ to a close.
What is undeniably most outstanding about “Save Me From Myself”, however, is Christina’s vocal. Okay, real talk, we all know Christina Aguilera can sing. She’s proven time and time again that she has real, serious pipes and that she can out-belt the best of them, but it’s hard to argue that Xtina isn’t often guilty of over singing. It wasn’t until “Save Me From Myself” that we really understood the sheer power of Aguilera’s voice, even when she sings with total restraint. The subtle, fragile quality of Aguilera’s performance here is what ultimately makes the song so affecting and it’s a travesty that we haven’t seen her replicate this magic live.
Although we mightn’t have been blessed with a rendition of this track on Christina’s ‘Back to Basics Tour’, she did give the track the video treatment following the birth of her first son Max. It’s an intensely personal video to match an intensely personal song, featuring candidly captured scenes of Aguilera’s wedding day.
Although never officially chosen as a single, “Save Me From Myself” numbers amongst Christina’s best. For an artist who’s so known for her powerhouse vocals, aggressive belting and excessive riffs, this head-voice extravaganza was an undeniable risk, but a risk that paid off in dividends.
Xtina is busy in the studio working on her follow up to 2012 LP ‘Lotus’, so let’s hope that she can deliver another track as moving, subtle and completely gorgeous as “Save Me From Myself”.