As much as I love Christina Aguilera, as a live performer her vocals are quite inconsistent and there is always a lot of debate about her voice in many of them, whether it be the health of it or the style in which she sings. However, here I have listed the 15 best live vocal performances throughout her career so far from 1999 to 2013 – one for each year, except 2009 when she didn’t perform. Instead I have put a video of her from her MMC days to show how far she’s come. Many of them cemented her as one of this generation’s finest and most talented vocalists with a unique “mixed” style (taking different styles and genres of singing from her various idols and influences and putting them together to create her own style) that has in turn influenced a legion of other young singers after her.
Please note, there are some performances that I haven’t included in here that some fans might consider to be good (for example her tributes to James Brown at the 2007 Grammys and Etta James at her funeral), because I believe they were emotionally great but not so much technically. I also haven’t included any performances from her mini-concert at the Time 100 Gala (pictured above) since there are still no full-length videos available, even though the short snippets did sound good, but check out my choices below:
1993 – Mickey Mouse Club
“I Have Nothing” on the Mickey Mouse Club show
Since there isn’t a 2009 performance, here’s one from 1993 when she was nearly 13, singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. It may be in a lower key and has no key change but she still does really well for someone her age – especially a song like this and shows she really had a lot of potential, talent and star power at that age. Poor Britney…
1999 – Self-titled début
“Reflection” on the Donny and Marie Show
Here she was still young and still finding herself as a singer before her first album came out. I believe if “Reflection” had been released as her début single it would have done her more justice and given her more credibility, rather than joining in with the teen-pop hype of the time.
2000 – My Kind of Christmas
“The Christmas Song” live at Christmas in Washington
Christina’s Christmas album was a mixed one – her voice was in fine form and her tone was great and pure, but it featured a lot of over-singing. This version of “The Christmas Song” however, was good and she managed to show off her voice for the President without going too overboard.
2001 – Mi Reflejo
“Pero Me Acuerdo De Ti” and “Falsas Esperanzas” at the Latin Grammy Awards
A lot of Spanish-speaking people believe Christina sings great in Spanish and sometimes better than in English. Her voice was getting better around this time and was a good chance for her to practice singing and dancing together more, which she manages to do well here. There is also some great use of her falsetto too.
2002 – Stripped
“Fever” with the Pussycat Dolls at the Roxy Theatre
Christina can sound really sexy and sultry when singing in a bluesy way using her lower register, as she does here for the song “Fever” with The Pussycat Dolls, and she does well to keep it straight and simple too.
2003 – Stripped
“Come On Over (All I Want Is You)” in London (Stripped Tour)
The test of a true artist is to see if they can take an old song of theirs and re-work it to make it sound fresh and different, which is what she does here with “Come On Over (All I Want Is You)”. She keeps the vocals clean and simple, yet playful, and her tone is beautiful.
2004 – Hiatus
“Walk Away” on Letterman
Soulful and sultry vocals, this performance had everything – perfect tone and control throughout and lots of emotion. Definitely one of her best from this era.
2005 – Hiatus
“A Song For You” on Ellen
This is not long after Christina recovered from strained vocal chords and in the build up to her next album, but her voice sounds stronger and richer than it has done before and when she proved she really excels at singing jazz-type records.
2006 – Back To Basics
“Ain’t No Other Man” at the MTV Movie Awards
Here Christina’s vocals were in top form and was probably her best first performance of a lead single from an album. Right from the first opening note through to the end, she kept the momentum going whilst moving around in heels, which is always something to be in awe of.
2007 – Back To Basics
“Makes Me Wanna Pray” in Adelaide (Back To Basics Tour)
This is when Christina’s voice was at its peak. This tour was very vocally demanding for her, especially this last leg when she was about 3 months pregnant. She really gets into the soulful feeling of this song and shows why she should do more gospel-influenced numbers like this.
2008 – Greatest Hits
“I Loves You Porgy” at the Grammy Nominations concert
A simple yet great vocal performance, Christina really shows off her lower register without showing off her voice too much. Her control is great and tone is smooth and warm, even if it does show that her voice has already begun to deepen a lot.
2009 – Hiatus (no performances)
2010 – Burlesque/Bionic
“Lift Me Up” at the Hope For Haiti telethon
Again, using her lower register where she now seems the most comfortable, this one and only performance of “Lift Me Up” had great control and technique throughout most of it. This era itself was one her weakest vocally, but this performance was beautiful.
2011 – Hiatus
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” at Disney Park Parade
After a spell of performances that were more miss than hit, this is definitely one of her best vocal performances in the past few years. Beautiful tone and great control throughout the entire song and her registers, probably thanks to the vocal training she had been receiving in the months prior to this.
2012 – Lotus
“Beautiful” at the Hurricane Sandy Appeal concert
There have been many performances of “Beautiful” that are worthy of being mentioned, but this one was really good. Again her tone is smooth and she has good control of her voice, as well as evidently showing a real connection to the song when performing it.
2013 – Lotus
“Blank Page” at the People’s Choice Awards
Unfortunately, many of the performances so far throughout the “Lotus” era have been average at best, but “Blank Page” was a gem. Her vocals weren’t perfect all the way through, but it definitely showed that she’s still got it and improvement since her other performances in the months before this one.