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The Kids Can Be Classy Too: Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman

At the turn of the century, America experienced a flashback to the 1950s.  Recovering from a time of dark grungy music and highly risqué and cynical movies, America was ready to fall in love with a group of fresh faced and innocent teens.  They got that in spades as the country fell in love with the vocal styling of clean cut boy bands, the cute but somewhat innocent exploits of teenage female dynamos, and the public was reminded of what a star making organization Disney really is.

After all, although the 1990s version of the New Mickey Mouse Club was not an overt success, it was a breeding ground for some of the biggest celebrities today.  People that emerged from this beehive of talent include Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, JC Chasez, Keri Russell, and Ryan Gosling.  Others who auditioned for the show but did not make the cut include Matt Damon and Jessica Simpson.  While the New Mickey Mouse Club produced its fair share of actors, it is best known for producing a number of young, talented singers who would woo America’s collective heart and hearken back to a simpler time when acts like Paul Anka ruled the airwaves.  One of the most popular singers that it produced was a young woman named Christina Aguilera.

While these kids would charm America at the end of the twentieth century with their clean-cut image and youthful exuberance, the thing with kids are that they eventually grow up.  How these kids would grow up would be a major subject for the worldwide public who had the fascinating viewpoint of watching these young teens turn into adults in an extremely public way.  As members of the record-breaking boy band, N*Sync, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez evolved into sex symbols and savvy musical experimentalists.  Of course, growing up as a man is much easier than it is for a woman, which is evident in the intense scrutiny that Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears had to endure.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, both Aguilera and Spears had impossible expectations placed on them.  Viewed by many adults and children as role models for young kids, they were expected to maintain their squeaky clean image.  On the other hand, the reality was that these two women were two of the world’s biggest sex symbols of their time. With these horrible expectations placed on two women entering their twenties, it is easy to understand why Aguilera and Spears predictably lashed out at these expectations. 

While Britney attempted to tow the line between innocent and sexy, Christina Aguilera completely embraced her emerging womanhood.  Starring in racy music videos and creating an alter ego called X-Tina, Aguilera not only left behind her teen queen image, she cultivated a much raunchier image.  Appearing nude or semi-nude on covers for such magazines as Maxim and Rolling Stone, Christina Aguilera was not only assuming a sexier image but was essentially shoving this newer risqué image in everybody’s faces.

While just a few years ago, many people were worrying about the cleanliness of Christina Aguilera’s image and were applauding Britney Spears for her ability to stay sane in the face of industry pressures, these roles have been drastically reversed.  As Britney Spears struggles with her divorce to Kevin Federline and attempts to keep her sanity at rehab, Christina Aguilera has shed her earlier X-Tina image for a much more mature image.  With a much more approachable image, Christina Aguilera seems like she doesn’t have much to prove to the world anymore.  This comfort in her own skin could be attributed to the stability that has entered in her personal life.  While little is known about the mysterious man known as Jordan Bratman, this celebrity marriage truly shows that the kids can be classy too.

Born on December 18, 1980 on Staten Island, Christina Aguilera had always aspired to be a singer.  The daughter of U.S. Army sergeant, Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera, and Spanish teacher, Shelly Loraine Fidler, Aguilera and her mother had to endure physical and emotional abuse from Fausto Aguilera.  This would continue until her parents would eventually divorce around the time Aguilera was 6 or 7.  Both Aguilera and her mother would move to Rochester, Pennsylvania where Christina Aguilera would work hard at cultivating her music career.

Known as the “little girl with the big voice,” Aguilera would establish a reputation as one of the best singers in her neighborhood.  However, this label would create a series of complications for her, as her peers would ridicule her and one time, even attempt to assault her.  This would force her family to move and to keep her musical talents a secret.  Despite the high level of jealousy that she encountered, Christina Aguilera was determined to make her dream of having a career in music come true.

When she was ten years old, Aguilera would appear on the hit talent showcase, Star Search, where she performed an Etta James song.  Although she lost the competition, Christina Aguilera would parlay this appearance to appearances on local Pittsburgh television shows and appearances at sporting events, where she would sing The Star-Spangled Banner.  With so much experience under her belt, Aguilera would then join the New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993 and would record a hit duet, “All I Wanna Do,” with Japanese singer, Keizo Nakanishi a year later.

With all of this experience being a testament to her intense drive, Christina Aguilera would get her big break when she was selected to record a song for the 1998 Disney movie, Mulan.  The song, “Reflection” would lead to Aguilera signing a record contract with RCA Records in that same week.  Although “Reflection” would be a minor hit, it would be the perfect tiny tremor before the massive earthquake of success that was Aguilera’s debut album.

America was in a dancing mood in 1999 and Christina Aguilera was at the right place and at the right time to follow in the footsteps of her fellow Mouseketeer, Britney Spears.  With hit songs like “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “Come on Over,” Aguilera found immediate success.  Her debut album would go on to sell 14 million copies worldwide.  Despite the huge success, Aguilera felt frustrated with the constraints placed on her image and music.  Tagged as part of a new trend of bubblegum pop artists like The Backstreet Boys and Jessica Simpson, Aguilera began to expand her musical range by releasing a Latin album and collaborating with other pop stars: Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, Mya, and Pink on a cover of the Patti Labelle classic, “Lady Marmalade. Aguilera's success inspired many to start taking singing lessons in hopes of one day reaching her level of stardom.

Despite her musical success, Christina Aguilera would make a drastic change that would radically alter her career.  In October 2000, Aguilera would file a lawsuit against her manager, Steve Kurtz, accusing him of acting making business decisions based on his own interest.  She would win the lawsuit and would then hire Irving Azoff as her manager.  This managerial change would allow Christina Aguilera to have more control over her music and her image.

This new artistic freedom would be increasingly evident in her sophomore album, Stripped.  Released on October 29, 2002 after a series of delays, Christina Aguilera boldly displayed her new saucier image with her initial video, Dirrty.  This newly Dirrty girl endured her fair share of criticism but the loud backlash was quieted by the success of her songs.  The album was considered an artistic triumph and people around the world couldn’t get enough of such hits as “Beautiful,” “Fighter,” and “The Voice Within.”  The album would end up in the top ten of Billboard’s 2003 year end album chart and Christina Aguilera would receive critical acclaim for her bold experimentation with different musical sounds.

Now that Christina Aguilera had received praise for her songwriting and touring prowess as well as continuing her reign as a successful pop artist, she would use her considerable voice to encourage voting.  She appeared in a series of ads that promoted the “Only You Can Silence Yourself” online voter registration drive.  With her reputation of being an independent woman that had broken free of the expectations placed on a clean, teen pop queen, Christina Aguilera still had to endure a number of personal controversies.

Whereas Britney Spears had very public relationships with fellow pop star Justin Timberlake and then with backup dancer and aspiring rapper, Kevin Federline, Christina Aguilera’s personal life was relatively private.  While fellow pop singer, Jessica Simpson would use her relationship with Nick Lachey to propel into stardom, Christina Aguilera’s relationships were a relative mystery. Aguilera did experience some of the negativity that comes with romantic speculation when the rapper Eminem accused her of having performed fellatio on MTV VJ Carson Daly and Limp Bizkit frontman, Fred Durst.  However, she had been in a two year relationship with Puerto Rican dancer, Jorge Santos, until September 2001.  Keeping herself free from the tabloids, Christina Aguilera would begin to quietly date music executive Jordan Bratman in late 2002.

Jordan Bratman was born on June 4, 1977 to an American music producer.  With music in his blood, Bratman would enter the music industry at the age of 16.  He would attend the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York in 1995 and would eventually attend Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School in Lousiana.  While he was attending school in New Orleans, he would begin to record local artists.  With his ear firmly planted on the ground, Bratman would come to the attention of famed producer, Dallas Austin.  Austin who recognized Bratman’s talent would appoint Bratman to the prominent position of head of A&R for DARP Music, Inc.

For a woman who learned at an early age to separate her professional singing career with her personal life, Christina Aguilera soon fell for Jordan Bratman.  The two would get married on November 19, 2005 in a lavish wedding in Napa Valley in California.  Considered to be one of the best celebrity weddings in 2005, the Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman wedding included a 14-piece orchestra and involved a rehearsal dinner with a Japanese theme.  The actual wedding took place at the Staglin Family Vineyard and Aguilera was dressed in a gorgeous Christian Lacroix dress with a lacy veil.  One costume change later, Aguilera would emerge in a short white silk halter dress that her good friend, Simone Harouche designed.

This extremely classy ceremony would touch off another change in Christina Aguilera’s image.  With critics and fans around the world in full support of her artistic endeavors, Christina Aguilera’s third album, Back to Basics, would indulge her love of music from the 1920s to the 1940s.  With touches of jazz and circus inspired music, Back to Basics was a big hit.  It also marked a triumphant justification for Christina Aguilera’s early decision to acquire her artistic freedom as her fellow pop stars from the New Mickey Mouse Club days would struggle with legitimacy, with the exception of Justin Timberlake.  It has been many years since shiny pop stars like Christina Aguilera emerged but if this celebrity marriage tells us anything, it’s that the Who were right when they said, The Kids Are Alright!