Here’s a song that I’m tempted to refer to as a guilty pleasure based on who’s performing it, but that wouldn’t be accurate. Far from guilt-worthy, this is an extremely well-written and well-performed song that’s close in spirit to the work of some of my favorites.
I don’t really know what to make of Christina Aguilera. When she hit the scene as a kind of response to and capitalization on the Britney Spears phenomenon, I dismissed her as another pop tart with looks in place of talent. But the truth is she was a victim of her marketing. She’s got a voice better than any of the mega-stars out there, and puts the showier artists like Madonna to shame.
Now, I don’t generally care for that sort of thing. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion… all that big voice anthemy ballad stuff. So even when Aguilera’s voice was unleashed I didn’t pay much attention.
But her Back to Basics album changed that. It’s a 2-disc collection with songs inspired by the big band, jazz and swing era. The album does have some weak tracks but much of it is sultry, nuanced and deep.
This song, ‘Mercy On Me,’ is one of my favorites. She definitely gives her pipes a workout here but I’m more drawn to the great piano line and the moody verses. If you told me it was written by Fiona Apple and not Linda Perry/Christina Aguilera, I’d believe you… and that’s very high praise coming from me.