September 06, 1999 12:00 PM

Christina Aguilera (RCA)

On the heels of Britney Spears‘s precocious success comes a new pop Lolita. Like her predecessor, Aguilera was a member of TV’s Mickey Mouse Club who has scored a No. 1 hit with her debut single, “Genie in a Bottle.” But unlike Spears, Aguilera—an 18-year-old thrush from Pittsburgh who appeared on the soundtrack of Disney’s Mulan singing “Reflection” (which is included here)—has been embraced by critics, who liken her powerful vocal style to Mariah Carey‘s. The comparison, while accurate, is nothing to crow about. Both are fond of great cascading melismas that have the cumulative effect of caterwauling. While Aguilera’s vocal acrobatics are impressive, she uses her potent pipes to serve up clichéd lyric clangers like “I turn to you for the strength to be strong/ For the will to carry on.” That double-talk, from “I Turn to You,” was written by the ubiquitous Diane Warren, who should be punished for putting such dreck in the poor child’s mouth. Similarly, a tag team of more than a dozen producers have plunged Aguilera’s voice into watery R&B arrangements featuring synthesized drumbeats that patter as monotonously as dripping faucets. Perhaps aware that more is not necessarily better, Aguilera is performing on this summer’s Lilith Fair tour accompanied only by piano.

Bottom Line: Talented young singer adrift in sap

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