Christina Aguilera likes to reinvent herself with each album. But for her fourth CD, "Bionic," she seems to be morphing into Lady Gaga. Interestingly, the 29 year old singer name-checks a few artists who inspired her new turn as a dance diva, but the word "Gaga" never passes her lips.
"Becoming a mother has inspired me in a futuristic direction," she explains. "So I started heavily getting into a lot of electronica music. Goldfrapp, Ladytron, Zero 7."
The highly sexual black-and-white video for the lead single, "Not Myself Tonight," features the former Mouseketeer in bondage gear, gettin' down with guys, with girls, and with guys AND girls. It's clearly a homage to Madonna's "Justify My Love" clip that was banned from MTV 20 years ago.
Aguilera insists it's also an ode to her own 2002 video for "Dirrty," best remembered for its gritty "Fight Club" theme and assless chaps. She calls the new video "Dirrty, Version 2.0" -- "but in a more sophisticated way."
Not surprisingly, there are fans who like her best when she's fully clothed and belting out pretty ballads like "Beautiful" and "I Turn to You."
"It would be creatively stifling for me to sit on a stool and sing ballad after ballad," she says.."It truly would."
Aguilera's powerful, four-octave range has landed her at No. 53 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time." Yet there are always critics lurking among the high notes.
"Even though I'm a singer, and I can do certain things acrobatically with my voice, there are those that are like, "'Ugh, can she just sing a song without having to go there?' So they're going to love or hate you. Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
In November, Aguilera will co-star in her first feature film, "Burlesque," opposite another singer-turned-actress, Cher. "A lot of scripts have come my way, but I wasn't interested in playing the expected, or anything to do with a singer, per se. The role I did agree to do is about a singer, but it was within a movie that I felt was very intriguing, to be the idea of burlesque.
"Cher is the head of the burlesque lounge, and working with her was unbelievable. I learned so much doing this movie. I can call myself an actress now," she laughs.
Her busy schedule was cited as the reason she's pulled out of a 20-date North American tour that was to have kicked off in July.
"Christina Aguilera's summer tour has been moved to 2011 due to prior commitments that the singer made to her film, 'Burlesque,' and to the promotion of her new album, 'Bionic,'" promoter Live Nation said in a statement. "The singer felt she needed more time to rehearse the show, and with less than a month between the album release and tour dates this wasn't possible."
Immediately the blogosphere lit up with speculation that ticket sales had been slow, bolstered by the fact that her single, "Not Myself Tonight," has failed to take off. And in recent days, the Gaga comparisons have grown louder, nevermind that Aguilera was first on the scene. She released her debut album in 1999 at age 18. At that time, she fended off comparisons to Britney Spears.
Her advice to young artists starting out in the entertainment biz? "You've got to keep negative people out of the picture. You only want to keep those that are in support of you, and those who aren't phony baloneys. I can't stand phony baloneys. I've gotten better over the years at sniffing those people out hopefully."