In the late 1990s, Christina Aguilera was a young star on the brink of one of the most explosive debuts in pop music history. Shortly after the success of fellow Mickey Mouse Club castmate Britney Spears’ foray into the teen pop craze, Aguilera launched her own music career in the summer of 1999 with her self-titled debut album.
Christina Aguilera spawned three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, topped the Billboard 200, earned Aguilera the best new artist award at the 2000 Grammys and laid the groundwork for a long, fruitful career. Today (Aug. 24), Christina Aguilera celebrates its 20th birthday, and we’ve ranked every track on the album to celebrate this milestone.
Gospel influences have informed Xtina’s music at different points in her career, and “Blessed” stands out as the first memorable instance of her exploring the genre’s themes and sounds. Though the song is a sweet “thank you” to an unnamed lover for everything he’s given her, the lyrics could easily double as a thank you to God for allowing her to become the superstar she’s always dreamt of being. “Blessed” is an undoubtedly endearing song, but it becomes forgettable when standing next to the album’s other heartfelt outings.
11. "Somebody’s Somebody"
“Somebody’s Somebody” represents an antithesis to “Blessed”: while Xtina celebrates the love that her partner has given her on “Blessed,” on “Somebody’s Somebody” she longs to have that special someone by her side. “I want a love to call my own / I want someone that I can hold / Want someone wanting me / Want to feel how it feels to be / Somebody's somebody” she sings, filling the song (and herself) with the hope that this love will eventually come.
10. "When You Put Your Hands on Me"
Written and produced in part by Robin Thicke, “When You Put Your Hands on Me” is a sultry tune that has Christina thinking about the touch of her lover and the confidence it brings her. Musically, the song delivers in the attitude department, but some of the lyrics’ implications that women can find self-love and empowerment through the physical affection of men haven’t aged quite well.
The album’s closing track is an honest letter to a past lover that contains a few of the touching gospel elements that characterize “Blessed.” Xtina was an 18-year-old starlet at the time of the album’s release, and despite much of her mature lyrical content in other songs, she speaks about feeling overwhelmed by the crush she has on "Obvious" and the nerves that come with it: “I'm feeling like a little girl / Caught up in emotions / I'm out of control / Isn't it obvious?”
8. "Love For All Seasons"
“Love For All Seasons” combines the love and appreciation of her partner that Aguilera expresses in “Blessed” with the romantic dedication that she dreams about on “Somebody’s Somebody.” On this track, she reiterates to her partner that her love lasts year-round and beyond -- it's built to last through whatever comes their way. Aguilera effortlessly uses her soaring vocals to inject passion into the music, making “Love For All Seasons” a standout love song on the album.
7. "So Emotional"
If this midtempo R&B-tinged track sounds like it could be sung by someone else, it’s because it almost was: “So Emotional” was originally written for Selena’s now-iconic Dreaming of You album, but never made the final tracklist. Xtina breathes a new spirit into the song in a way that only she can, making it all her own as she coos about a guy she’s head over heels for.
6. "I Turn to You"
Originally performed by All-4-One for the Space Jam soundtrack, “I Turn to You” only received widespread recognition after Christina Aguilera covered it for her debut album. The song is an expertly written ballad about the reliability of her partner and the peace that it brings her to have someone who will always hold her. “I Turn to You” was released as Christina Aguilera’s third single in March of 2000, and went on to peak at the No. 3 spot on the Hot 100 later that July.
5. "Love Will Find a Way"
The upbeat “Love Will Find a Way” checks all the boxes necessary for pop perfection in the late ‘90s: cheery energy, a chorus ready-made for the dance floor, and the lyrical prospect of love that might be going sour. After two decades, “Love Will Find a Way” may have gotten lost in the shuffle of countless similar songs, but it remains one of the best examples on Christina Aguilera of what well-crafted bubblegum pop sounds like.
Faithful Disney fans will remember this classic ballad from the 1998 animated film Mulan, recorded originally for the movie by voice actress Lea Salonga before being covered by Christina. Her “pop version” of the song was included on the Mulan soundtrack, and went on to be released as her debut single in 1998 -- over a year before her album's debut. Even though the upcoming live-action Mulan won’t have any music, here’s hoping Xtina gifts us with a new, even more powerful cover.
3. "Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You)"
The last single spawned from Christina Aguilera, “Come On Over Baby” marked Xtina’s first song where she was given significant creative control; in this case, she’s credited as a co-writer. “Come On Over Baby” became Christina’s third single to top the Hot 100, and with good reason: it’s pure, unadulterated, feel-good pop, and stands as a shining example of why Aguilera has been able to achieve so much success. Songs like this brought to mind what Whitney Houston did with her debut: Both albums showcase a talented young singer with incredibly strong pipes, a command of different sounds and an ability to jump genres with ease. In each case, a new star had arrived.
2. "What a Girl Wants"
It’s no surprise that “What a Girl Wants” has enjoyed such a long lifespan over the last two decades. It’s quintessential late-90s teen pop, but trades in typical starry-eyed lyrics about a guy for an empowering story about a girl who knows what she wants and needs from a relationship, both sexually and emotionally. It became Christina’s second consecutive No. 1 single in January of 2000, and firmly solidified her spot in pop music as a force.
1. "Genie In a Bottle"
It’s difficult to choose a winner between “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants,” but ultimately, the magic of "Genie" -- along with its status as Christina’s breakout single -- has earned it the honor of topping our list. It was released as the lead single from Christina Aguilera in June of 1999, and peaked at the top of the Hot 100 just a month later. Even though “Reflection” was technically Christina’s debut single, “Genie” was the first time most listeners were introduced to her, and still stands as one of the finest moments in her expansive career. The song’s initial composition and euphemistic lyrics turned her off at first, but once she got behind the mic and made it her own, it was clear she had created a generational touchstone for pop music. Twenty years later, Xtina’s “Genie in a Bottle” is still granting all of our wishes.