It was widely recognized that Christina Aguilera needed her latest album Lotus to be a hit after the lukewarm reception to 2010's Bionic.
That's not to say her previous record was a complete disaster - it charted in the top ten almost everywhere - but a glance at its sales (less than 1 million) and critics' reviews revealed a star that had suddenly fallen out of favor.
As such, the performance of Lotus seemed crucial to get the singer back on track, so entering in the UK charts last week at 28 with less than 10,000 copies sold and debuting with her lowest first-week sales ever in the US will surely be a blow to her camp.
But how and why has this happened to Christina Aguilera? We've examined some possible reasons below.
She doesn't have the right material.
The biggest complaint about Bionic was the lack of obvious chart hits as well as its constant genre-hopping, which included everything from R&B and hip-hop to electro-rock and synthpop. She attempted to rectify this on Lotus by trailing it with 'Your Body'; a thumping, anthemic pop number helmed by Max Martin that sounded like an easy hit, but it still failed to connect to a wider audience (its highest peak was in the UK at number 16).
The album itself has a similar overall sound and includes duets with fellow Voice coaches Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton as well as an impressive list of songwriters and producers, which on paper should have proved more popular with the music-buying masses.
She's better known as a TV star than a popstar.
This could be a fairly sizeable factor, given the huge popularity of The Voice in the US. While many artists use these sorts of shows as a promotional tool for their music, Christina's major TV interviews just weeks (even days) before the album's release often focused more around the series than the album. Her decision to leave the show after its current run could be a reminder to everyone that she in fact a popstar, or it could simply see her presence diminish even further.
She didn't promote Lotus enough.
An easy excuse often wheeled out by superfans, but in this case the argument holds weight. Christina's own push behind the album appeared to be minimal, with a few last-minute appearances in the US and zero promotion across Europe. This in part explains its dismal showing in the UK (it entered at number 28 with sales of 9,422 and has since dropped to 102 in today's midweek chart), but even Britney Spears - who didn't push Femme Fatale abroad - managed to reach number eight with over 30,000 sales in March last year.
It's a popular X Factor-ism, but Christina isn't exactly known for being personable. Unfortunately, most people like "nice" popstars these days, which is probably half the reason why Olly Murs is number one at the moment. The clip below better explains what we're talking about.
So what should she do next?
We think the main problem with Christina Aguilera is that in 2002's Stripped, she created an unbeatable album. An album that was too good. Follow-up Back to Basics was a smart move as it zagged where its former zigged, while Lotus wheels out the same "be yourself" message we've heard from every other female artist in the last two years. Christina is best when she commits to a complete image overhaul, which is what we'd suggest when/if there is an album six.
What do you think happened to Christina Aguilera? Leave your comments in the box below: