On her upcoming Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo, Christina Aguilera delves into her Latin roots, covering a traditional tune alongside Spanish versions of her multiplatinum hits, her manager said on Monday.
"This is very much a Latin-sounding record, but vocally, she does bring her more R&B sound to it," manager Steven Kurtz said. "I don't think there's anyone singing in Spanish the way Christina does it."
The album, due Sept. 12, will feature Spanish-sung versions of five songs from her 1999 self-titled debut album, with five originals and one traditional number called "Contigo en la Distancia" (With You in the Future).
"It was a big gamble to record 'Contigo en la Distancia' because it's such a traditional Spanish song," Kurtz said. "We had all of BMG Latin America come in for a listening party, and they were crying while they were listening to it. There's no element of jumping on the bandwagon you can hear the sincerity in Christina's voice."
Late Latin jazz star Tito Puente and Mexican pop star Luis Miguel are among the hordes of Latin artists who have recorded versions of the tune. Aguilera sings the song "very traditionally, but she's riffing on it," Kurtz said.
Mi Reflejo was produced by Rudy Pérez, a Cuban-American who also wrote four of its five original songs "Pero Me Acuerdo de Ti" (But I Remember You), "Si no Te Hubiera Conocido" (If I Hadn't Known You), "Cuando No Estoy Contigo" (When I'm Not With You) and "El Beso del Final" (The Last Kiss). He collaborated on the latter number with Franne Golde and Tom Snow, who co-wrote late Tejano singer Selena's "Dreaming of You."
Aguilera duets with young Puerto Ricanborn singer Luis Fonsi on the ballad "Si No Te Hubiera Conocido."
Also among the originals on Mi Reflejo is "Falsas Esperanzas" (False Hopes), penned by Jorge Luis Piloto. The uptempo number with Latin horns has a party feel similar to Ricky Martin's megahit "Livin' la Vida Loca," Kurtz said, adding that it is being considered as a single.
The songs that were translated from Christina Aguilera are "Genio Atrapado" (RealAudio excerpt) ("Genie in a Bottle"), "Por Siempre Tú" (RealAudio excerpt) ("I Turn to You"), "Una Mujer" ("What a Girl Wants" [RealAudio excerpt]), "Mi Reflejo" (Reflection) and "Ven Conmigo" (Come On Over). The arrangements are changed slightly or not at all from their original versions, Kurtz said.
"Genio Atrapado" is nominated for a Latin Grammy Award, while "Por Siempre Tú" is at #6 on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks.
Shelly Peiken, co-songwriter of "What a Girl Wants" which became the first #1 hit of the new millennium said she had not heard the Spanish rendition of the song but said she was thrilled it was among the tunes chosen for the Latin album. "I know I'm gonna love it," she said, predicting that the song's sassiness and danceability would work well in the new format.
Peiken, who also co-wrote Meredith Brooks' breakthrough hit, "Bitch," as well as Mandy Moore's single "I Wanna Be With You," said she had heard "Por Siempre Tú" on the radio and was impressed with Aguilera's intonation and pronunciation.
Though she is not fluent in Spanish, Aguilera understands the language, having grown up with her father, a native of Ecuador, speaking it at home. "Her intonation, her understanding, her Latin roots are undeniable," Kurtz said, adding that Aguilera was talking about recording a Spanish-language album even before she recorded her English-language album.
Kurtz said Mi Reflejo showcases Aguilera's considerable growth as a vocalist since she appeared on the pop scene. "She recorded her debut album when she was 17 years old," he said. "This is an album of a 19-year-old woman whose voice has matured and become even more powerful."