Regular readers will know that the 1978 version of me had a bit of a 'thing' for the film of 'Grease' (you can go back and read if you want, I'm not ashamed). What I haven't mentioned though was that while my mates (and their fathers I suppose) were getting all in a lather about the appearance of 'bad Sandy' at the end (where the character brought herself down to Danny Zucco's level by dressing like a tart), it left the pre-pubescent me very confused. And worried.
I mean, what on earth was going on here? Had I not just sat through ninety minutes of Olivia Newton John playing Sandy as a sweet and virginal girl next door you could take home to mother? So how could she now be swaggering around in skin tight leather, high heels and......smoking!!! How could there be such a sudden transformation? And for that matter, who now was the 'real' Sandy - was 'tarty Sandy' the act or was had she really been hiding her true character for those ninety prim minutes? What was the answer this riddle? I didn't know, but as elusive issues of sexuality left me highly embarrassed back then, I ignored it as best I could and poured all my energies into trying to look like John Travolta. For all the good that did mind.
Fast forward twenty five years and Christina Aguilera presents me with a similar set of issues; initially presented as a full wash cycle, clean cut, doe eyed New York girl in jumpers and sensible shoes, the 2002 model now pouts up in a set of stringy, XXX, bargain basement whore's Sunday worst ensemble so barely there they'd make a pole dancer blush. We'd had forewarnings of course - her brothel chic turn in 'Lady Marmalade' showed us she knew how to work a set of stockings, suspenders and half cup bra, but you could always put that down to her being led astray by Lil' Kim and the rest of the bad girls from the back of the bus. Here, as a solo article, there was no hiding place and no excuses.
Not that Aguilera is in any mood to hide or excuse herself - from the title in the 'new' Christina has banished the coy to flaunt her sexuality with the subtlety of a sweaty groin thrust to the face, a living centrefold from a low rent 'specialist' magazine with piercings instead of staples. And to make sure we're in no doubt that the tone and title don't refer to personal hygiene, the extra 'R' ensures it rolls around the tongue before leaving the mouth in a lascivious drool - Aguilera doesn't want to wait for anyone to rub her the right way to get the genie out of the bottle anymore, she's happy enough to rub it herself. In public too. Crikey.
Well that's the idea anyway, but like a lot of best planned would be aural lays it goes awry in presentation; Aguilera's usually reliable delivery here is shrill, more harpy shriek than siren seduction and, combined with the aimless, faceless hardcore R&B thump that clangs around her mercilessly, it renders 'Dirrty' more pornography than erotica and about as much a turn on as being washed down with a fireman's hose.
"Dirty, filthy, nasty" - Redman sets out the core intent over the introduction, and if that's the tone she set out to achieve then this can be marked up as a bullseye. But there's a hard and calculating feel about 'Dirrty' that reduces Aguilera's sex selling antics to the level of the self centred exhibitionism of a streaker at a sports event, and it leaves me wondering if this is the 'real' Christina or is it some marketing ruse that allows her to stand out in a saturated market? If it's the latter, then shame on someone, but if it's the former then 'Dirrty' is a top shelf, look but don't touch wrong turn; 'bad Sandy' at least had a good natured wink in her eye that let you know that it was all so much fancy dress - Aguilera and 'Dirrty' fix you with a glare of cold steel that digs an unbridgeable gap between song that offers no scope for emotional involvement other than the fleeting gratification offered by pornography. And it's just as disposable.