Producer Tricky Stewart on how Christina Aguilera can get her career back on track, Michael Jackson's posthumous album, and more

Tricky-StewartImage Credit: Michael Buckner/WireImage.comChristina Aguilera‘s Bionic met with disappointing sales this summer, but producer-songwriter Christopher “Tricky” Stewart is convinced she’ll be back on top soon enough. “It just seemed like the timing was a little bit off and things got a little bit out of sync for her on that project,” says Stewart, who worked on several Bionic tracks and went on to serve as executive music consultant for Aguilera’s upcoming movie Burlesque (out Nov. 24). “This film is going to bring her right back where she needs to be. When she starts to focus on a new project, I think it’s going to be amazing.”

Stewart doesn’t think Aguilera needs to switch things up when the time comes to record her next album, either. “I think what Christina does musically is always fine,” he adds. “It’s a matter of if it can be marketed properly. When I listen to [Bionic], I definitely am a fan. More than anything, it was promoted poorly.”

In addition to producing five songs for Burlesque, Stewart also recently produced two songs from Michael Jackson‘s posthumous album Michael (due Dec. 14). He shrugs off online gossip about whether Jackson really sang on Michael: “I don’t really know where all that’s coming from. The tracks that I did were 100 percent Michael Jackson.”

Rounding out his busy fall season, Stewart also produced the entirety of Jessica Simpson‘s Happy Christmas album (due Nov. 22). “To me it’s one of the best albums I’ve ever been a part of,” he says. “I’m really, really proud of that album…When I went back and listened to her country album, I was really impressed with her as a singer. I definitely think she’s underrated.”

What do you think of Tricky Stewart’s career advice for Christina Aguilera? Looking forward to his other upcoming projects?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Michael Jackson: New single, tracklist revealed
Michael Jackson controversy: Estate attorney cites proof he sang “Breaking News”

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • Elena

    Whenever an album flops, people blame the marketing, the timing, the weather. I believe Aguilera needs to realize once and for all that she DOES NOT need the “I’m a sexual animal/woman hear me roar” crap that her first Bionic single “Not Myself Tonight” brough. Same thing happened with Stripped’s first single “Dirrty”, with its ridiculously over-the-top sexual imagery. Why can’t singers understand that when Madonna (’80s and ’90s) did it, it was a novelty and she had something to say, it wasn’t just shock for the sake of it. Christina needs to focus on her voice, and get rid of the gimmicks. She is one of our greatest voices, but as long as she tries to “compete” with the Gagas and the Rihannas, she’ll hit a wall of buyers’ apathy.

    • Sam

      I totally agree with you Elana, I cant believe she made the same mistake AGAIN!!! Didnt she learn the first time, She keeps doing these terrible things to sabbotage herself. This time we cant blame the record company or marketing – its the damn artists who think THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT BUSINESS when they dont’ – they are in front of the camera for a reason; so let the professionals deal with the BUSINESS and let the artists perform. Im so sick and tired of seeing her be slimy on videos its a complete turn-off, in fact we should all write her a letter and tell her that, maybe she will wise up. Dont get me wrong, Im the biggest Christina A. fan out there but somehow she is lost sight of what music is all about, Im just keeping it real from a Fan’s perspective. what do you think?

      • Lady Gaga

        wasn’t she supposed to tour to promote Bionic but cancelled it at the last minute due to poor sales?

      • Elena

        True, Sam. She did it with Stripped. Dirrty flopped, and yet, when she focused on THE VOICE and released BEAUTIFUL, a gorgeous, stripped down ballad, that was a huge hit. Now, I will chalk the Dirrty debacle up to impetious youth and her overwhelming desire to get away from her wholesome Disney image, but after so many years in the biz, you would think she learned the lessons she got from Dirrty. I was horrified when I saw the video for NOT MYSELF TONIGHT…I was like “Damn, Christina….why this? Why now? You are not doing yourself any favors!”

      • Vi

        Elana, i agree with you as well. when I saw Not Myself Tonight, my first thought was, oh no, not Dirrty again!?
        her whole career, she try to differentiate herself from other pop singers (Britney before…Gaga now?) yet, she just can’t help herself to do these ridiculous stunts to encourage people to make comparisons.
        often, she came up short as the “poor man’s version”. oh when will you learn, Christina, you’ve got something they don’t have…your voice! stop trying so hard on shock value, and focus on making music.

  • Krystal

    Now, not to be snide, I am a fan of Christina Aguilera. But I am not a fan of bionic by any means. I thought it was too reminiscent of way too many artists out there right now. It wasn’t fresh and it didn’t seem honest. Her stripped album was her best (minus DIRRTY). It was a soulful album with good writing and great vocals. Hopefully she gets back to her roots. That being said I loved the No other Man but you song too.

  • Krystal

    and she doesn’t need so much make up what is up with that picture above she looks like one of those harlequin dolls.

  • psychoanalyzer

    Maybe it was marketed improperly, but as a Christina fan, I have to say it was just a poor album. It was too left of center to be mainstream and it wasn’t soulful enough to even succeed on R&B and adult charts. It was a huge mess. Christina has yet to learn that the sex kitten vixen role she plays is completely unnecessary, which is why I have no plans to see her in her self-indulgent, sexualized role in Burlesque. It is unfortunate that this mindless dance craze has swept the music industry, because Christina has a voice that surprasses Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Gaga combined. I hope she finds her place again. Talent like hers only comes around once in a long while. I hate seeing it wasted in songs like “Bobblehead.”

    • Krystal

      I gotta disagree. I think Gaga has better pipes.

      • Amy

        Very funny, Krystal. Gaga’s definitely good, but not better.

      • psychoanalyzer

        LOL. Sure, Gaga’s got a fantastic voice. Her voice could move mountains. But Christina’s voice crushes them.

      • Nano

        Please … you can not compare Lady Gaga’s poor voice, to Christina’s amazing voice

      • susan

        That made me LOL. Christina’s voice crushes Lady GaGa’s. I love Christina but hated Bionic. She dosen’t need to do the techno/club autotuned songs. Leave that for the girls who can’t sing very well. I also agree with less sexualization. Although I loved Dirrty. Just hated the video. I think she was marketed better then most too. She performed on every show out there including the big one Idol. Better music with more put on the vocals next time.

    • Phil

      I get really upset when people make comments and say ‘mindless dance craze’. Dance music has its fans, just because pop music is currently enjoying that sound on the radio, doesn’t mean people who aren’t fans, like yourself should downplay it, because honestly, dance music is EXTREMELY hard to break on pop radio, and has been for decades. RCA gave up and never properly tried to even work her ballad “You Lost Me” to top 40 (I am hoping they will IF BURLESQUE is a hit film), and I understand “Bionic” may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but I also think it was material fans weren’t prepared for, and the fact that she was tossing around the idea of divorce during an unhappy marriage. If RCA really wanted to save the album, they would have released “Vanity” to the clubs (Gayest song of the year) where “Not Myself Tonight” was heard non-stop at all gay Pride & beach/pool parties through all of June and July. “WooHoo” was not the right follow-up single, especially since Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love” wasn’t a pop hit at that moment this summer. The label just up & stopped promoting, prolly cause at that point Xtina had told them she needed time to try & save her marriage, which I can respect.
      And Simon, once again, thanx for keeping the EW tradition alive by writing yet another undermining Xtina headlining story.

      • Hutchy

        LOL saving her marriage………meanwhile all the rumors have it that she was carving a swath through the backup dancers on Burlesque like Sherman marching to Atlanta. Not that I’m in ANY way complaining!

      • psychoanalyzer

        Dance music itself is awesome and I agree, it is hard to break into pop radio. But now everything, and I mean everything top 40 has some generic techno dance beat that makes it feel like a yes, a mindless dance craze. Few of the artists who use these beats no what real dance music is. There was no space for You Lost Me which is my absolute favorite song of Christina’s since Beautiful. But there hasn’t been space on Top 40 for heart-felt, not-over-produced ballads of that style and the like since, I don’t know, the mid-to-late 90’s? I actually liked Woohoo too in spite (and not because) of Minaj on the track, but it just didn’t work, and the song was so explicit. Vanity might have been a good song to release and maybe would have seen a good amount of success, but IMO Christina could do better. It’s unfortunate she was going through such a rough time with her husband but I respect her for taking a step back and attempting to fix her marriage before promoting her album. I’m just sad that her efforts didn’t work out because I really thought she and Jordan would make it.

  • RajibDavid

    The reason of Bionic underperformance was the pathetic promo. It was ridiculous!

  • Kr

    He’s completely right. I loved Bionic. People thought she was jumping on the electro bandwagon, but she was talking about making a futuristic record while promoting Back to Basics in 2006. She finished the majority of Bionic, outside of a couple tracks, a year before she even released it, but shelved it to film Burlesque. When she finally released it, a ton of other acts had already gotten in on that trend. That’s not to say Bionic even sounded like too many other pop acts out there aside from a couple of the more mainstream sounding songs. She knew it was a risk to release it and openly said that before it came out. She then only did a week of physical promotion in the U.S. then disappeared and did zero promotional appearances after the day came out. She didn’t even promote overseas once. When you saw pictures of her in Italy shortly after looking miserable with her husband and she later announced her divorce, it was pretty clear why she didn’t promote. She chose to put her priorities on fixing her marriage instead of letting things get worse and heading on the road for three months. I have a lot more respect for her for that than anything.

    Anyway, people are free to love or hate her or her music, but I love that she continuously challenges herself, and experiments and tries new things. She’s a risk taker and I’m sure she knows that with that people aren’t going to love everything she does.

  • justin

    Floptina

    • wakeforce

      How original!

  • Cattery

    Bionic had its moments. I think the problem with the record is that it didn’t have focus. It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a dance pop album or an electro-album. I think she should have gone in the electro direction–songs like Elastic Love and Monday Morning are great.

    • Preston

      The first half was fun, but the ballads in the middle dragged it down a bit before another set of dance pop songs picked the energy up. She didn’t grasp the electronica pop sound quite enough as she wanted to. I really like Vanity–so funky and catchy, even if it wouldn’t make the radio!

  • Gregoire

    It was timing. That sort of album seems thin in a post-Gaga world. Released two years before, it would have had 2-3 big hits from it.

    • Preston

      I think Lady Gaga has made many female pop singers try to copy her sound. What she does is hard to outdo with her approach and Christina should have put it out before Gaga really exploded with The Fame and The Fame Monster. As good as Bionic is, some of the danceable songs kind of copy or bite Gaga’s sounds and dance rhythms a little too much.

  • bruno

    bionic wasn’t promoted because it was BAD…here’s betting the same thing for burlesque. i smell an aguliera train wreck…and no one caring.

  • Christophro

    Xtina is back in the studio working on her new album. As a fan, I have enjoyed all of her albums. I personally think Bionic is a good album and the only reason why people did not received well; was due to timing! The album was complete a year ago from release and she focused more on her next project which was Burlesque.

  • victor

    I have to agree with this article. I still listen to Bionic. It really is a great album. But I think the songs that were promoting the album were not the “best” in there. And also I do believe that the timing was wrong. I enjoy her talent skills.

    • victor

      And I am actually excited for the film too. :)

  • dang

    Xtina has pop’s best vocals- Katy Perry so cannot sing, did you hear her at the EMAs? And everyone in the industry is copying from Xtina- but people have ‘forgotten’ about Legentina. Don’t worry, Burlesque will be a hit!

  • Xism

    the actual reason why bionic failed was both because the promotion was total crap no one knew it was out none of my friends did till i told them a month later. secondly christina seemed to not be assed about promoting it, even when she was it looked as if her full attention was else were and her heart wasn’t in it. im glad shes back in the studio writing new music based around the stripped era. i just hope the first single is not like NMT or Dirrty and has a good video this time not the mess of a video NMT had… i meen who puts a perfume add in there music video????? (@_@) it was shockingly bad. the album was damaged because of christina not wanting to promote it and overall the promotion was awful it came way to late.. there was no word from her and all of a sudden she appeared and there was an album out in 1 week and she was performing these songs mixed with genie in a bottle etc people had no idea what was going on i barely knew, i only knew because im a fan of christina. .. id like to say “fire your marketing team” “dumb your husband…. oh wait you have” and focus on your career because at these rate your on self destruct. Burlesque is giving you a chance to save your career so take it!!!!

    • J

      Assed? Really?

  • karen

    When she focuses, Aguilera’s performances (vocally) go above and beyond her peers. What is pathetic and embarrassing is her defensive and nasty attitude. And that interview when she got all annoyed about the “cougher”..i dont believe she was joking for one minute.

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