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 'I'm very protective of how much I let people see.' ...



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 'My future daughter is not going to go through what I did.' ...





 Watch Christina explore the emotions that inspired her to make "Back to Basics," on Overdrive


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 Photos: Behind The Scenes At Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man" Video Set


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Christina realizes she was fortunate to be able to turn her internalized childhood trauma into music. "It's what's driven me," she says. "It's what made me stronger than I would be had I not gone through it. It gave me a purpose — to try to conquer whatever situation I'm in."

However, she did lack a father figure — someone she could trust for both personal and professional guidance. When she moved to New York to start her recording career — at 15, with "certain people kinda there as a guardian or whatnot," but essentially on her own — she hoped to find one. But she kept getting entangled with people who were intent mainly on exploiting her. "There's some really gross people out there," she says. "Guys who are supposed to be your caretaker and look out for you but are hitting on you when you're a minor — guys 20 years your senior — and you're like, 'What is this?' It makes you grow up real fast."

Maybe that's one reason why '50s R&B singer Etta James, one of Christina's musical inspirations and now a friend, calls her an "old soul." Those hard times will always inform the person she is. On a new song called "Understand," Christina sings, "I used to think that happiness/ Could only be something that happened to somebody else."

Jordan Bratman changed all that. Had Bratman not entered Christina's life five years ago, "the lyrical content of the album would have been very different," she says. "Before I met Jordan, I felt that I was the only person who was really going to be there for me, besides maybe my immediate family. So I had to be strong, and I had all these walls up because I've been hurt so many times. And Jordan just came and swept that aside. He was seriously a breath of fresh air. He was so genuine, so sincere, so real."

At its bawdy best, Basics celebrates that discovery — "Candyman" and "Nasty Naughty Boy" are bright, brassy tributes to love and lust. It's happy music, and Christina's clearly having fun with it — mimicking the 1940s-era swing standard "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and occasional burlesque club tunes before bringing in the strings for earnest expressions of her love.

And with a real love in her life, Christina was, for the first time, confronted with the difficulty of writing real love songs. Not exactly a fan of the form, she looked for ways to make her love songs distinct. So on "Save Me From Myself," for instance, she recorded her voice in a way she'd never done before: "No belting, no vocal gymnastics, nothing crazy — I just wanted to make it super-simple and really raw. There's no reverb — and I'm a reverb queen — and no effects. Everything's stripped clean, super dry, very softly sung, up-close on the mic." Add an acoustic guitar and a tasteful string quartet, and "that's it," she says. "That's the entire song."

Another new track, "The Right Man," is more orchestral and even includes a choir. Written from the perspective of herself about to walk down the aisle, it's a showstopper — half lament about the father who isn't there, half celebration of the man who is.

"I'm all made up today/ A veil upon my face
But no father stands beside me/ To give this bride away ...
Here I leave behind my past/ By taking a chance
I finally found the right man" ...


"I'm looking ahead at this man that I'm about to marry," Christina says of the song, "and realizing that by taking that step, I'm kind of breaking the cycle. My future daughter is not going to go through what I did. I'm mending my past by marrying this amazing man."

Now, she finally has the freedom to leave the past behind her. "Twenty-five years from now," she says, "there'll be a completely different me. But for now, I'm where I need to be. I'm definitely in a place where I feel good, I feel at peace. No drama — don't want any, don't need any. I can just look forward to the future and make it as bright as I can. I'm finding myself ...

"... and I'm not done."




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