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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 1980

Welcome to Day #18 of “The Pop Culture Addict’s Advent Calendar”, and this is the time of the week where we are going to be featuring our weekly look back through time in what we like to call the Tuesday Timeline!

I’ll admit that trying to incorporate a holiday theme into this piece was a difficult challenge, but I managed to sneak a little holiday treat at the end of this entry for you to enjoy.  Hey, it’s what I do...try to spread the holiday joy!

So, let’s not waste any more time babbling on.  We have a whole bunch of things to discuss.  Why don’t we begin by wishing the following famous faces a very happy birthday?

Birthday wishes go out to...Roger Smith, Lonnie Brooks, Jacques Pepin, Roger E. Mosley, Michael Moorcock, Harold E. Varmus, Harvey Atkin, Keith Richards, Alan Rudolph, Steven Spielberg, Gillian Armstrong, Leonard Maltin, Elliot Easton (The Cars), John Booth, Ray Liotta, Ron White, Geordie Walker, , Julia Wolfe, Brian Orser, Norman  Brown, Greg D’Angelo, Allan Kayser, Brad Pitt, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Don Beebe, Robson Green, Shawn Christian, Mick Collins, Fawna MacLaren, Rachel Griffiths, Casper Van Dien, Nina Wadia, DMX, Victoria Pratt, Cowboy Troy, Rah Digga, Raymond Herrera, Leila Arcieri, Trish Stratus, Daniel Cleary, Katie Holmes, Tara Conner, Ashley Benson, Ashley Slanina-Davies, and Bridgit Mendler.

And here are some of the events that have taken place on December 18ths of yore...

1642 – Abel Tasman becomes the first European to land on New Zealand

1777 – The United States celebrates its first ever Thanksgiving, which stemmed from a celebration over winning the Battle of Saratoga that October

1787 – New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the United States Constitution

1878 – The last of the “Molly Maguires” (John Kehoe) is executed in Pennsylvania

1888 – The ancient Indian ruins of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde are discovered by Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law

1892 – Premiere performance of “The Nutcracker” in Saint Petersburg, Russia

1898 – Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first officially recognized speed record in a Jeantaud electric car (39.245 mph)

1912 – The Piltdown Man is announced by Charles Dawson; later proven to be a hoax

1916 – The Battle of Verdun ends; Germany is defeated by the French; 337,000 people lost

1917 – The resolution containing the language of the 18th Amendment to enact prohibition is passed by the United States Congress

1932 – Because of a blizzard, a football game between the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans had to be moved to the Chicago Stadium from Wrigley Field, in what would be known as the first NFL Championship Game

1939 – Battle of the Heligoland Bight

1944 – Hankow, China is bombed during the Second World War

1956 – Japan joins the United Nations

1958 – The world’s first communications satellite, Project SCORE, is launched into orbit

1966 – The Saturn moon “Epimetheus” is discovered by Richard L. Walker

1972 – President Nixon announces plans for Operation Linebacker II during Vietnam War

1978 – Dominica joins the United Nations

1989 – The European Economic Community signs a trade and commercial/economic cooperation agreement with the Soviet Union

1992 – Legendary game show producer Mark Goodson passes away from pancreatic cancer in New York City at the age of 77

1996 – Ebonics is declared an official language/dialect by the Oakland, California school board

1997 – HTML 4.0 is published by the World Wide Web Consortium

2000 – Irish singer Kirsty MacColl is killed in a controversial boating accident in Mexico

2006 – The United Arab Emirates holds their first ever elections on the same day that floods devastate the country of Malaysia, killing 118 and leaving 400,000 homeless

2008 – Mark “Deep Throat” Felt passes away in Santa Rosa, California at the age of 95

Quite a lot of history to digest, isn’t it?  Well, the date we’re visiting this week is...drum roll please...

December 18, 1980!

Thirty-two years ago, a songbird was born, and over those thirty-two years, her wings have spread in a multitude of ways.  I suppose in one way, you could claim that she has actually gone full circle because she began her career on a talent show, and she is currently a judge on a talent show!  Of course, that’s just the first 32 years of her life.  I assume that she has years ahead of her still. 

Of course, in those thirty-two years, this person has had their share of highs and lows.  When she was high, we all loved her and girls wanted to be like her.  But when she was low, she became fodder for the tabloids and trash talking websites, as so many other celebrities have had to go through.

But she seems to be going full steam ahead these days, and with a brand new album and brand new tour on the horizon, she’s well on her way to smooth sailing.

So, who am I talking about?  Maybe this video will give you a bit of a clue.

ARTIST:  Christina Aguilera
SONG:  Your Body
ALBUM:  Lotus
DATE RELEASED:  September 17, 2012

Okay, so it might not be her biggest smash single, but it’s one of her newest, and it did receive reviews that glowed as brightly as the pink hair extensions that she is sporting in the video.

But when you consider that this single comes from her seventh studio album, it’s easy to make the judgment that Christina Aguilera has made her own mark in the music industry.

And, since today’s her birthday, why not make this blog entry all about her?

Born on December 18, 1980 in Staten Island, New York, Christina Maria Aguilera was the eldest of two children born to Fausto Xavier Aguilera and Shelly Loraine Fidler-Aguilera.  Because Aguilera’s father was a soldier in the United States Armed Forces, the family was forced to move around to several places by the time Christina was six years old.  Around that time, her parents ended up divorcing, and Christina (along with her mother and sister) moved to Rochester, Pennsylvania.  To this day, Christina remains close with her mother, but rarely has any contact with her father.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia in regards to how Christina Aguilera began her career...her rise to stardom almost exactly paralleled that of Britney Spears.  Christina got her start singing on the talent show “Star Search”.  So did Britney.

(Both lost.)

Both Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears were cast in the television series “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the early 1990s, both of whom were initially rejected on their first audition because they were too young.  Spears was cast before Aguilera, and Aguilera reportedly had the nickname of “The Diva” because of her rich vocal abilities.  The show ended in 1994, when both were still cast members.

TRIVIA:  Apparently, the parallels continued after both Spears and Aguilera hit it big...both of them kissed Madonna in that infamous MTV Video Music Awards moment, and both of them are currently judges on television reality shows (Spears for The X Factor and Aguilera for The Voice).  Go figure.

But, there is one thing that Aguilera can claim.  She had a single hit the charts before Britney Spears did.

While Britney’s debut single, “Baby, One More Time” was released in September 1998, Christina Aguilera’s debut was three months earlier, in June 1998.  The song was recorded for the soundtrack for the Disney feature film, “Mulan”, and the name of the song was “Reflection”.  When the call from Disney came out about finding a vocalist for the song, Christina sent in a demo tape of herself singing the Whitney Houston single “Run To You” from the soundtrack of “The Bodyguard”.  Christina’s dream of being a famous singer was very real to her, and she felt that if she got the job of recording “Reflection”, it would help her get her name out there.

The demo immediately attracted the attention of Ron Fair, who would later become her mentor, and who was a key figure in helping Aguilera land her first recording contract with RCA Records that same year.  Long story short, “Reflection” ended up becoming a Top 20 Adult Contemporary hit in late 1998, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

In August 1999, Christina Aguilera released her debut album (with the original title of “Christina Aguilera”), and the album became a huge success.  All four of the singles released from the album (“Genie In A Bottle”, “What A Girl Wants”, “Come On Over Baby”, and “I Turn To You”) reached the Top 5, and in the case of the first three singles, hit #1.

TRIVIA:  Christina’s song “What A Girl Wants” was the very first #1 song of the new millennium.

Her next two albums were a Spanish version of her massive selling debut, as well as a Christmas album, both released in 2000.  And in 2001, she recorded a duet with Ricky Martin, “Nobody Wants To Be Lonely”, and teamed up with Lil Kim, Mya, and Pink for the cover version of “Lady Marmalade” for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.  But by 2001, Aguilera was becoming disenchanted with her management.  She was beginning to tire of the bubblegum pop image that seemed to saturate the radio in the early 2000s, and wanted a change of pace.  But when the record company refused to play ball with her, she decided to switch up her management team (replacing Steve Kurtz with Irving Azoff), and in 2002, she changed her image to one that was a complete 180 from her previous one.

When “Stripped” was released, the first single was “Dirrty”, which given the raunchy visuals and controversial image makeover she debuted made tongues wag.  The single did not perform well, and Aguilera was lambasted by critics and fans for her new image.  But one thing that I will credit Christina for is that she always stood by her work, and claimed that “Dirrty” was a song about power and control.

But, to be fair, I liked this single much better...

ARTIST:  Christina Aguilera
SONG:  Beautiful
ALBUM:  Stripped
DATE RELEASED:  November 16, 2002

(As someone who has had – and still has to some extent – self-esteem issues, you’ll understand why I enjoy this song.)

In more recent years, Christina Aguilera has changed her image quite a bit.  Her retro throwback sound that was infused throughout her 2006 album “Back to Basics” won critical praise and kept her in the spotlight.  Her personal life was also at a high at the time, marrying Jordan Bratman in 2005 and giving birth to their son, Max, in January 2008 (the marriage would end in 2010, the same year that Aguilera received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame).

Christina appeared in the 2010 film “Burlesque”, and while the movie itself was torn apart by critics, the star’s performance was widely considered to be the only shining quality of the whole movie.  The following year, she was hired to serve as one of the judges on “The Voice” alongside Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton, which currently is among one of the most viewed programs on NBC.  It was announced in 2012 that Aguilera would be leaving The Voice at the end of its third season to promote “Lotus”, and that Colombian born singer Shakira would be taking over her spot for season four.

And there you have it...a brief history of Christina Aguilera.

One thing that I have not talked about in this blog entry as of yet is my own personal thoughts about her.  I know that she has not had an easy road to stardom over the years, and I know that she made a few mistakes (including an arrest for public intoxication in 2011 and that whole kiss with Madonna/Britney Spears scandal) in her lifetime...but who hasn’t?

As far as I’m concerned, she is only human, and as far as I know, none of the mistakes she has made have been harmful to herself or to other people (unlike the person whose song helped Christina get a recording contract with RCA Records back in the late 1990s).  I can look beyond that to see the talent within.  And regardless of what one might say about her personal choices, that talent overshadows it all at this moment in time.  I’m not afraid to admit that I do enjoy Christina Aguilera’s voice, and I think that she still has that star power.  I’m not interested in the slams towards her about her actions, or even her waist size (which is frankly nobody’s business).  She still looks beautiful, and I think that she’s at a point in her life where she’s ready to take on the world and not let anything stop her.

And, to end this look back on December 18, 1980, why don’t we post a holiday favourite from Christina Aguilera to end off this note (and to have some holiday link to this entry?)

Coming up on Day #19, we’re going to examine a world filled with Main Streets, Schoolhouses, Airports...and Little People?

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