Christina Aguilera is always up for a challenge.
The Grammy-winning singer is no stranger to the art of reinvention, having reintroduced herself multiple times throughout her two-decade music career. Who can forget when she first appeared on the scene with “Genie in a Bottle” sporting a cropped denim jacket and matching capris, or those conversation-starting leather chaps during her Stripped era, or even the Old Hollywood–inspired glamour of Back to Basics? Now, in 2021, Aguilera’s new music is all about embracing her Latina roots—her latest single, “Pa Mis Muchachas” is modern, Cuban-inspired guaracha that enlists the help of Nicki Nicole, Becky G, and Nathy Peluso to create an empowering Spanish-language track.
“I was a teenager when I released my first Spanish album. That was 20-plus years ago, and I’d been wanting to make a follow-up record literally ever since, but I really wanted to make sure it was done at the right time with the right people,” Aguilera tells BAZAAR.com. “I take it very seriously. It’s a part of my childhood growing up, hearing the language. My mom spoke Spanish fluently; my dad’s from Quito, Ecuador. It was something that was very much a part of my childhood—the music playing around the house. So I wanted to dive in headfirst and truly engross myself in the whole experience and being around different writers from all over the world. There’s truly nothing like Latin love and Latin music—the way it makes you feel so alive and the passion involved.”
Creating Spanish-language music again was not just a way for Aguilera to honor her own childhood, but also to educate her children on their heritage. “Spanish may not be my first language, but it’s in my soul and part of my heart and my roots and my background. Now, as a mother, I see it through such different eyes,” the singer shares. “Even my kids just seeing me in the studio, challenging myself and making sure that the details are so right and that it’s authentic to me and respecting the music … it’s important for me to show them that Mommy doesn’t back down from a challenge. Not everything’s going to come easy, but I’m passionate about it, and this is a part of who we are.”
New music isn’t the only project Aguilera is sharing with her family; she’s also starring in a new Nintendo campaign with her kids. “I’m very particular what I do with my kids as far as involving them with different work aspects of my life,” she says. “But this is clearly not work. This is fun for the whole family, and the Nintendo family has been amazing. When we did our campaign, everyone from the director to the crew just made it very comfortable for my kids, and it all spoke authentically to what we do together and how we enjoy our time.”
Playing video games together lets her bond with her children, whether at home or on the road. “The Nintendo Switch in particular is truly great, because I have to do a lot of traveling, and it’s something that you can just pick right up and take on the road with you. If my kids can’t make it with me on tours, we can always gameplay together and connect and create these worlds together.”
Aguilera continues, “[Gaming] really just eases my mind. It’s a great way to escape and also challenge myself, and it’s always been a tool that I use to decompress. I carry so much on my plate. I wear many different hats as a mom, as an entertainer, as a performer, and it can be overwhelming sometimes. It’s been very therapeutic to give myself that mental break.”
As 2022 looms, the pop star promises that more music is on the way. “The [new] music will be released over the course of pretty much three different chapters, kind of like small albums well into 2022,” the singer says. “It tells a story. It dives into elements of my childhood and is making certain peace with my past. And there’s more collaborations to come! It’s been a labor of love. I can cry talking about it and knowing that it’s finally going to be released to the world.”
For Aguilera, this new era of music means embracing experimentation—and full creative control—over the musical narrative she wants to share. “There’s so much to be grateful for. Of course, you want [past projects] to be successful, but it truly wasn’t my main priority [this time around],” Aguilera says. “It was more interesting for me to continue to evolve and challenge myself, and grow and experiment with different sounds and textures. I’ve never wanted to make the same album over again. And no matter what people thought about it, it was so important to me that at the end of the day, I created a body of work that you can look back on and appreciate for the experimental value of it.”
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Beyond sharing her thoughts on her future music with us, Aguilera also reflects on the past. “Fame brings out a lot of ugliness in people around you. You learn that the hard way at a very young age,” she shares. “I’m living in a more fearless time of my life where I truly am embracing everything that’s authentic to me, but with a new perspective. As you get older, you care less what other people think, because you’re more grounded in who you are.
“I turned 40 last year, and I was so overwhelmed by the love that I had around me. It’s really apparent who are the people that are going to be your backbone through anything. So I’m proud of that more than anything—to have such a beautiful family, friends, and family that are such a support to me.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.