Just before Christina Aguilera took the stage for her sold-out show, the first of two at Universal, all the large video screens in the amphitheater came to life … and showed a commercial for tour sponsor Sears. Which pretty much sums up the nature of this particular teenaged pop music beast.
From the $30 children’s T-shirts to the $5 glowsticks (each child appeared to have at least one), to the ever-present ads for the tour sponsors, this slick production reeked of commercialism. And the star attraction did her part, playing the role of the physically perfect girl who can sing, dance and sell jeans, and do it all without even breaking a sweat.
Aguilera, 19, is often tipped as the best of the current crop of teen pop stars (Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, etc.), but that doesn’t mean her songs have much to offer besides catchy hooks and adolescent lyrics, or that she delivers them in concert with anything besides well-rehearsed detachment.
Starting with opener “Genie in a Bottle,” through the couple of bland tracks from her new Spanish-language album, up to encore closer “What a Girl Wants,” Aguilera displayed a professionalism and a command of the stage that has so far eluded the more popular Spears.
Yet the blonde singer — who donned three different yet similar skimpy outfits — was never really able to make a personal connection with the members of her young audience, who were happy, anyway, to sing all the words and to wave their glowsticks. Even the between-song chatter about her mom and her “loyal” L.A. fans came off as feigned. “I consider L.A. my home now,” she said.
The best part of Aguilera’s 70-minute show, which was opened by Destiny’s Child, was a late-set rendition of her current No. 1 song “Come on Over” (from her seven-times-platinum RCA Records debut), which featured key contributions from the almost-gospel back-up singers as well as a curtain of fire that erupted at song’s end. Low point was a poor cover rendition of “All Right Now” by ’70s rock band Free.