Christina Aguilera: Can't Hold Her Down

Sorry you can't define me
Sorry I break the mold
Sorry that I speak my mind
Sorry, don't do what I'm told
Sorry if I don't fake it
Sorry I come too real
I will never hide what I really feel
No way

And that's Christina Aguilera, on her latest album, Stripped. Baring her soul though the music and lyrics -- and her skin in the artwork -- this genie is definitely out of the bottle., while shivering in New York, tracked down the big-voiced singer while she caught some much-needed R&R in Hawaii. We played a little 10 Questions.

1. What does the title of the record, Stripped, mean to you?
This album really allowed me to express a lot of my inner self that hasn't been seen before. This is all me, plain old me, stripped of hype, glossiness, fakeness.

2. Several years have passed since your debut album. What has changed in your life since then that's allowed you to embrace your true self more fully in your music?
From 17 to 22, who doesn't grow up? I had and lost my first love. I've been burned in the business. But each time I've been hurt or betrayed, I've gotten stronger, wiser, so I thank God for those experiences. They've made me a better person, more comfortable in my skin.

3. One of the prevailing themes on Stripped is empowerment -- personal, spiritual and sexual. Was this something you were conscious of while writing the lyrics?
Yes, empowerment has always been a theme. It started by just writing my feelings, pouring my heart out on paper, and there it was in several different areas -- spiritual, sexual and personal. But no matter what, women, men '- everyone '- should be empowered to just be themselves.

4. You've retained elements of the sound you're known for -- big ballads, bluesy vocals, Latin pop -- while adding more urban touches on tunes like "Dirrty" and "Can't Hold Us Down." What led to you try something new?
I've always had a passion for R&B and hip-hop, and there are a lot of really great, talented people I wanted a chance to work with because I knew they would get my style, like [producer] Rockwilder and [former 4 Non Blondes singer/guitarist and current Pink collaborator] Linda Perry.

5. Let's talk about the guests on Stripped. What was it like working with Alicia Keys? Lil' Kim? Redman?
Everyone was really great. I've wanted to work with Alicia since her first album. She has such great talent. And Kim is just straight RAW. I was very interested in working with her again after [Moulin Rouge soundtrack single] "Lady Marmalade." Red is cool as hell. I was totally glad he made the "Dirrty" video.

6. How involved were you in the conception of the "Dirrty" video?
Well, the director basically tells me what to do, but then I take his direction and express myself through that. I had some concepts of what images I wanted included and what I thought were taboo subjects.

7. How do you decide what to wear? Do you have a stylist for media events and openings?
Yes, I do have a main stylist, Trish Summerville, who knows me inside and out and has the right vision of what I'm trying to go for and what makes me feel comfortable and free.

8. Where do you go shopping? What are your favorite labels?
I do like to go shopping, and I also get sent a lot of amazing stuff from my favorite designers. For casual, I love Paul Frank, Joie, Bella Dahl and Juicy Couture. For going out, I love Roberto Cavalli, Julien Macdonald, Rick Owens, Gaultier, Dior and Vivienne Westwood.

9. What kind of makeup do you wear? Are you devoted to any specific kinds?
M.A.C is one of my faves, but I'm into a lot of different products.

10. Who are your favorite singers?
My all-time favorite is Miss Etta James, for her aggression and boldness. And I love Alicia Keys '- she has soul that separates the girls from the women.

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