NEW YORK (AP) — Christina Aguilera isn’t picking up exactly where she left off 22 years ago with her Latin Grammy-winning Spanish album “Mi Reflejo.” The superstar singer comes in full force as a “grown woman and mother” to showcase her Latino roots in the EP “LA FUERZA,” which drops Friday. And that’s just the beginning.
While 2000’s “Mi Reflejo” included five Spanish-language versions of tracks from her 1999 self-titled debut album, four original compositions and two covers, “LA FUERZA” features six original tracks, all co-written by Aguilera. The Sony Music Latin release includes the singles “Pa’ Mis Muchachas” featuring Becky G, Nicki Nicole and Nathy Peluso, “Somos Nada” and the new “Santo” featuring Ozuna.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, but to be honest, I really wanted to wait for the right moment,” Aguilera said Thursday in an interview from Los Angeles. “When everything slowed down over the past two years, I was able to really take a break and get back to my priorities and what I wanted to do.”
In “LA FUERZA”, Aguilera plays with rhythms ranging from reggaeton (in the opening “Ya Llegué”) and Latin/urban fusion, to ballad and guaracha. She even touches on ranchero music in “La Reina,” which she says is a tribute to the recently deceased Vicente Fernández, who performed the Mexican classic “El Rey” by José Alfredo Jiménez.
In 2020, during the pandemic, the mother-of-two moved to Miami with her family to work for a month in the studio with other musicians and “finally dive in the way I wanted to, because I wasn’t just going to do it. and get songs and do it,” she said. “I really fell in love with music again.”
Being in a city with one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the United States, where Latin music can be heard everywhere, helped her reconnect with her childhood and inspired her: “It was so good to come back to it.” The singer, whose father is Ecuadorian, grew up in a Spanish-speaking family before her parents divorced when she was 6 years old.
And his Spanish-speaking fans can expect more this year. “LA FUERZA” is the first part of a trilogy that Aguilera plans to release in 2022.
Aguilera spoke from experience, being a perfectionist and living without expectations. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
AP: Did motherhood play a role in your desire to explore your Latin roots a little more at this point?
AGUILERA: Yeah, that was also part of why it was so important to me. You know, I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household… (but) my kids, I don’t have a Spanish-speaking partner, so they don’t hear it like I grew up listening to it. It’s such a beautiful thing to give them, the experience of music, to be there and see that it’s part of them, it’s part of their journey and it’s part of my childhood shared with them. The whole experience now, coming full circle from baby Christina with “Mi Reflejo” to now “La Fuerza” as a grown woman, means so much to me to be able to share that with my kids as well.
AP: You co-wrote all the songs and sing them with perfect pronunciation. How was this process for you?
AGUILERA: I take it very seriously. I’m a super perfectionist when it comes to me and my work, and I’m very critical, so I take my time, and that’s also why I wanted to be surrounded and in it. Miami is a pool of incredible talent from all over the world and again, Latin music is undeniable, there is nothing like it, and feeling it from the inside is very important to me. So when you go there, and when I start to hear it from all angles and everyone speaks it (laughs) — no one speaks English — you catch up very quickly and you remember a lot of things from childhood . It’s like second nature every time I’m around her and every time I sing her. And not to say it’s not a challenge not to be my native language, but I’ll never back down from a challenge. I would never choose the easy way either. I definitely have two amazing people I work with who helped me fine tune the words, and it’s also tricky because each territory has a different way of speaking and different slang, so I really reversed that to the way I heard my dad speak and also keeping it pretty classic.
AP: You cover a variety of genres. Was it important for you to present different Latin rhythms?
AGUILERA: I’m not a one-dimensional artist, I’ve always liked to explore different genres in English and also limit myself to Latin music — I’m just inspired by too many different things to do that. I really wanted to be true to different things that inspire me, and I love spending time with my friends and listening to reggaeton and dancing, it feels good. “Santo” with Ozuna is such an incredible embodiment of that, but you know, always honoring the classics. “La Reina” stays pretty authentic, it’s so much fun to get into and it’s also a tribute to the legend, Vicente (Fernández) “El Rey”.
AP: Tell me about “Santo”. How did it go with Ozuna?
AGUILERA: It was one of the first songs I heard a track for and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love this song.’ The hook was there. (Puerto Rican singer-songwriter) GALE was one of the writers, she’s a beautiful writer, super poetic. Really tricky with the tongue! I really worked more on some of these lyrics, you know? (laughs) But I love the song so much! It’s something that makes you feel sexy and empowers you. So after I recorded it, I was already back in LA when I got an email that said, “OK, you need to check your email, there’s a surprise.” And the surprise was Ozuna’s verse (laughs). I was like, “Oh my God!” I was so excited for him to join the record, and he did his own thing with it. So right after I finished with the girls doing “Pa’ Mis Muchachas”, I went straight to “Santo” with Ozuna and we shot the video right there in Vegas after the Latin Grammys. We get to embody this ethereal world of nature, hallucinations and twisted darkness, but I’m being chased by an ex-lover who betrayed me, so (laughs). It was a really fun video to shoot and the song and hook are unmistakable.
AP: Two decades after “Mi Reflejo”, what are your expectations with “LA FUERZA”?
AGUILERA: No waiting! It’s just a labor of love. I’ve been in this business too long to worry about expecting anything. Anything can always happen! I’ve learned over the years to really let go of what people think, what people say. I just want to do things that I love, do things that I hope the fans love, appreciate and inspire. At the end of the day, really make music that I can love and respect, that I’m proud of, and that I share with my kids, that will last after I’m gone.
Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.
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