She started her career as a direct rival to Britney Spears but Christina Aguilera is perhaps best known for a haunting ballad that explores issues of self-esteem and recognising inner beauty.
Adopted as an anthem by the LGBT community, Beautiful was the last of Aguilera’s three UK number one singles (four if you count her collaboration with Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink on Lady Marmalade from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack).
Aguilera reinvented herself almost as many times during her career as Madonna, as her image proved as versatile as her four-octave range and trademark melismas (runs of multiple notes crammed into a single syllable of lyric).
It’s hard to believe Beautiful was released 14 years ago next month. As moving and poignant now as it was back in 2002, it’s a timeless classic and a perfect showcase for one of the most gifted vocalists of her generation. It also has a hard-hitting video by Jonas Akerlund, the Swedish director responsible for other memorable videos such as Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, U2’s Beautiful Day and the Grammy Award-winning promo for Madonna’s Ray of Light.
A coach on six seasons of The Voice USA, Aguilera also played a hand in launching the career of the first and greatest American Idol, Kelly Clarkson. Miss Independent, Clarkson’s first post-Idol song that launched her on the road to international stardom, was originally written by Aguilera for Stripped, the album on which Beautiful appeared. However, it was left out, incomplete, and finished for release by Clarkson. The rest, as they say, is history.