On the eighth day of Xtina-mas, I got too impatient to wait for the rest of my presents and decided I wanted to spend Christmas wearing something a little fancier than a Christina Aguilera fragrance, so I gave to me the holiday off from writing because Touch of Seduction and Glam X are the last of ’em ’til the Burlesque perfume Xtina-mas Xtravaganza! But first, a little context, shall we?
2015 through 2017 have been a helluva few years to be alive because it’s hard to not feel like the pop music landscape has radically shifted in the space of a few years, let alone the past decade. Britney Spears proved the Vegas residency, once a surefire sign of soon-to-be has-been status, was a savvy career move; contemporaries like Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez would follow suit in the coming years. Beyoncé established herself as a full-blown, certifiable artiste in 2016
because Obsessed got its long-overdue reappraisal when she released Lemonade. Miley Cyrus went from one-time twerker to experimental stoner and Flaming Lips collaborator with 2015’s SoundCloud-only Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz to reformed country-crossover flower child on 2017’s Younger Now. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift shed her Nashville past like a snake sheds its skin and reinstituted her bid for the pop throne with Reputation. Lady Gaga, former pop throne usurper and celeb celebre, has spent the last few years wandering the music scene like some Victorian ghost child in an effort to recenter the zeitgeist around her, trying on jazz standards with Tony Bennett and a pink cowboy hat with 2016’s Joanne
And then there’s Xtina.
Xtina, who’s coming at us with that new “caviar ratchet” sound…back in 2015. Xtina, who in the past three years has only been a judge on The Voice twice, put out a couple of songs, and performed a Whitney Houston tribute at the 2017 American Music Awards, but hasn’t released a new album since Lotus. It’s been so quiet in the last few years that she didn’t even release a perfume in 2016 (!), though that might be because her perfume line was acquired by Elizabeth Arden from Procter & Gamble that year. All that said, Touch of Seduction and Glam X–released in 2015 and 2017, respectively–are both shockingly good perfumes, which makes you wonder just how good her upcoming album might be.
If the majority Christina Aguilera’s perfumes have been mostly successful, broadly appealing fruity florals, and if Woman marked the beginning of a pivot towards more mature compositions, then Touch of Seduction and Glam X are the follow through into a more thoughtful approach to perfumery. Touch of Seduction rearranges Xtina’s traditional fruity floral blueprint with a lovely, distinct rose note and an unmistakably musky note weaved into the base. And oh my stars and garters, how Glam X sings: caramelized peach gives the fruity notes uncharacteristic depth and an almost resinous, smokey bite; the florals (freesia, jasmine, lily of the valley, and heliotrope) a clean and powdery bouquet; and the base is a vanilla-free melange of musk, benzoin, amber, and sandalwood.
Sure, both are still marked by a certain obligation to that celebrity sweetness, so you might not feel quite like you’re dripping with elegance and diamonds and pearls, but this isn’t an Elizabeth Taylor fragrance, and besides, Touch of Seduction and Glam X leave me hopeful that this is the beginning of a more sophisticated, adventurous era of Christina Aguilera’s perfumes.
Though let’s cross our fingers it doesn’t translate to her music. I’m quite married to this idea of “caviar ratchet”, whatever that may be.
Last up: Burlesque!