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Lotus ()

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Considering all the trials and tribulations surrounding her 2010 album Bionic, Phoenix may have been a more appropriate title for Christina Aguilera's fifth album than Lotus. Plagued by delays, Bionic underwhelmed upon its 2010 release, as did Xtina's silver screen debut Burlesque, and her career appeared on the brink of meltdown until she signed up to be a voice on the NBC singing competition The Voice . Soon, she was duetting with her co-star Adam Levine on Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger," her star was hotter than ever, and she was determined to not have it dim with Lotus. Streamlined considerably from the confused but often gripping Bionic and the sprawling double-album Back to Basics, Lotus isn't without risks -- "Red Hot Kind of Love" is a giddy, delirious piece of pop produced by Lucas Secon of "Lucas with the Lid Off" fame, as bracingly different as anything on the radio in 2012 -- but Aguilera isn't attempting a robotic future-soul, she's sticking with the belting soul ballads, hard disco, and pop that made her a star. And she feels comfortable in this familiar, slightly freshened territory, riding the glitzy pulse of "Let There Be Love," seizing the solo spotlight on the spare piano-and-voice ballad "Blank Page," sneering at her haters on "Circles," and spitting at them on the bonus cut "Shut Up." Christina may not pushing at her limits here -- a safeness underscored by the presence of not one but two Voice co-stars -- Cee Lo Green comes in for the pulsating party "Make the World Move," Blake Shelton duets on the slow, bluesy closer "Just a Fool" -- but it's hard to blame her for playing it safe, particularly because she wound up with such a strong pop album, one that reconfirms her gifts as a singer and savviness as a pop star. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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