vocal acrobatics

Graphing the Wailyness and Runnyness of Christina Aguilera’s Lotus

Singer Christina Aguilera performs onstage during the 40th American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After nearly twenty years of performing, we know what to expect when Christina Aguilera opens her mouth: a wail or a run. Both have been around since her “Genie in a Bottle Days,” though the wailing has increased while the running has decreased slightly. The wail is a cross between an American Idol–style belt and the sound a cat makes when you step on her tail. It goes a little like this: “woAAAAAAAAAAA!.” The run is every time her voice bounces up and down rapidly like Aretha Franklin in an earthquake. It goes a little like this: “WOoOoOoOoOoah.” On her new record, the wailyness and runnyness are as strong as ever. Whether the song sounds like an Adele or Rihanna hand-me-down, her tricks shine through. We made a handy graph to represent the runnyness and wailyness of each song.

Graphing the Wails and Runs of Aguilera’s Lotus