There is no debate about the sublime, soulful voice of Christina Aguilera. But still, her name has been associated with countless controversies, celebrity rivalries, and rebellious acts. Let’s take a deep dive into the life of this sparkly pop star and how she managed to stay true to herself even while dealing with the blinding lights of stardom.
In 1980, Fausto Xavier Aguilera and Shelly Loraine Kearns had a daughter, Christina Aguilera. Constantly moving towns due to her Army sergeant father, Aguilera grew up everywhere—New Jersey, Texas, New York, Japan—yet she neither had a normal home nor a normal family.
There’s the stereotype of the Army brat—and though Christina was technically one, her childhood was secretly filled with terror and pain. According to her, her father was both emotionally and physically abusive.
Luckily, when she was 7, her mother took her and her sister Rachel and fled.
While her mother set up house in Rochester, PA, Aguilera began to use music to cope with the trauma of her home situation.
After winning talent shows and performing the Star-Spangled Banner for local major league teams, Christina Aguilera made her screen debut on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. She teamed up with other icons like Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake—but their teen dream come true was short-lived. The network canceled the show.
Her first gig may have been over, but Disney was about to hand her some golden tickets to the fame factory.
Collaborating with Disney and releasing a song for the movie Mulan, 18-year-old Christina Aguilera attracted the attention of record labels, who wanted Aguilera to join the “teen pop star” train. In June 1999, Aguilera released “Genie in A Bottle” and she not only joined the train but crashed all the music charts with it. There was just one problem.
Aguilera was in the limelight—but she was too young to know how to handle it.
After her worldwide success, Christina Aguilera spent all her time preparing for shows. Ordinarily, she spent a lot of time with her team: vocal coaches, dancers, production assistants, etc. However, there was one specific backup dancer—Jorge Santos—with whom she developed a romance.
The two became a public couple in 2000, while Aguilera was dealing with some in-house problems.
When Aguilera’s career exploded, her manager—Steve Kurtz—became a power player too. However, there was a disturbing dynamic behind the scenes. Aguilera began feeling like a puppet controlled by Kurtz. He had too much authority over what she sang, how she dressed, and even how she acted in front of the public.
Aguilera had dissenting opinions, and she was ready to act on them.
Ultimately, Christina Aguilera knew she needed to get away from Kurtz—so she filed a lawsuit against him. Aguilera claimed that Kurtz made extra money off of her by influencing her decisions, especially when it comes to hiring other “management professionals”. By management professionals, Aguilera meant that Kurtz hired his father and another associate, then paid them money that didn't even belong to him.
Of course, Kurtz denied the allegations, but he didn’t stop there.
Kurtz was shocked when Aguilera said that representation by his management company was “a sham”. He responded that he was very disappointed by Aguilera and noted that she dishonored his hard work. Then he took it one step further.
Aguilera’s career hung in the balance—but luckily, Kurtz ultimately walked away. The two parted ways for good.
Kurtz became the first one in Christina’s long list of “frenemies”.
One of Aguilera’s first public feuds was with the Real Slim Shady—AKA, Eminem. Aguilera made some comments about the rap god during her MTV special What A Girl Wants, mentioning that Eminem had married his longtime girlfriend…even though the public didn’t know about it. She also commented on his lyrics, implying that some of his more violent material was about his wife Kim.
Well, Slim Shady didn’t like the shade, and he dissed Aguilera in the best way he knew how.
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After MTV aired Aguilera’s comments about Eminem, the rapper clapped back. In his song “The Real Slim Shady”, he rapped "[She] put me on blast on MTV: ‘Yeah, he's cute, but I think he's married to Kim, hee-hee'”, while dressing up like Aguilera in his music video.
Aguilera was furious—but unlike the other celebs that Eminem dissed, she wasn’t about to just let it go.
People didn’t expect the playful, charming teen star to have teeth and bite back. Christina Aguilera surprised everyone when she dissed Eminem in one of her songs, “Can’t Hold Us Down”. She sang "So what? Am I not supposed to have an opinion?
Should I keep quiet just because I'm a woman”?
Aguilera might’ve thought it was over—but then life handed her yet another celebrity rivalry.
In 2001, Christina Aguilera released the groundbreaking song “Lady Marmalade” with Pink, Mia, and Lil’ Kim. It became the best collaboration of the year, and it had a blockbuster video—yet not everything was as it seemed. One of the collaborators revealed that the camaraderie between the women was all for the cameras and it was not that fun to be on the set.
That collaborator was Pink, and she was referring to Aguilera.
Pink later confirmed that the feud between her and Christina Aguilera started when Pink accidentally sat in Aguilera’s chair. Reportedly, Aguilera broke down and even tried to shut down the production. Overreact much? Their voices might mesh smoothly, but unfortunately, they never got along after this incident.
If you think shutting down production was the most extravagant thing Aguilera did, you’d unfortunately be wrong. According to a conversation between Pink and Andy Cohen, their rivalry didn’t end when they stepped off the set of the video. Pink said that one day at a nightclub, Aguilera “swung” at her, probably during an altercation.
“Lady Marmalade” was full of trouble—and it was just one in a string of controversies for Aguilera.
Aguilera’s next hit after “Lady Marmalade” was the infamous “Dirrty”—and she received a ton of backlash. Many critics called her looks in the video inappropriate, but she called it a “power play” and said, “I'm not just some lame chick in a rap video; I'm in the power position, in complete command of everything around me". Indeed, she was all alone.
Media backlash was one thing—but Christina Aguilera suffered for her controversial music videos in her personal life too. After two years of dating, her boyfriend Jorge Santos stated that he was not ready for a serious relationship. Even though Aguilera was ready for something more solid, she ended up as a single pop star in her 20s.
She was ready to have some fun, and maybe experiment.
In 2003, Christina Aguilera scored an MTV Video Music Awards performance alongside two other blonde bombshells—Madonna and Britney Spears. This trio gave music history an unforgettable moment when they passionately kissed each other during the performance of “Like a Virgin” and “Hollywood”.
But while Aguilera was busy kissing girls, she found out that her ex-boyfriend was doing the opposite.
Aguilera was single for a short period of time, and she reflected her experiences in her music. She confessed that she wrote “Infatuation” and “Underappreciated” for her ex-boyfriend, Santos—but that’s not all. She also claimed he was “playing for the other team”. We don’t know when or how she found out, but it must have been a surprise.
Luckily, a more pleasant surprise was just around the corner.
The same year, Christina Aguilera went to Atlanta to record a solo album. However, she was easily distracted by a music producer named Jordan Bratman. The two quickly fell head over heels in love. Bratman, smitten by Aguilera, followed her back to Los Angeles. Aguilera, after her disappointment with Santos, was impressed by Bratman’s ability to commit.
And she was ready to make a commitment of her own.
After three years of dating, Aguilera realized that Bratman was the one—so when he asked her to marry him, she said yes. This was Valentine’s Day in 2005. Just nine months later, on November 19, Aguilera and Bratman tied the knot on an amazing estate in Napa Valley.
The big question was—who can sing at the wedding of one of the best singers of all time? The answer was right in front of them.
Their wedding was already magical, but a surprise moment transformed the evening into a complete fairytale. A friend of Aguilera wanted the bride to sing a song, and Aguilera didn’t turn this opportunity down. She sang “At Last” by Etta James—one of her idols—and she dedicated this song to her new husband.
Like James, Aguilera’s lonely days were over, and life was like a song.
In 2006, Christina Aguilera took a different direction with her public image.
She introduced an alter ego, with curled hair, bold red lipstick, and a wardrobe full of sparkly Old Hollywood glam—a stark departure from the “Dirrty” era. However, when it came time to debut it, she got more than she bargained for.
Aguilera and Bratman traveled and partied often.
However, one night at a club in Las Vegas came with a huge surprise. During the night, Paris Hilton picked up a microphone to make an announcement. She then screamed “Congratulations to the most beautiful pregnant woman in the world” while turning to Aguilera…who was dumbstruck.
She kept quiet, but not for long.
The next morning, all eyes were on Christina Aguilera. All of a sudden, fans and paparazzi were examining photos for evidence of a bump. Finally, in November of that year, the newlyweds confirmed the rumors. Aguilera even went a step further and celebrated her impending motherhood by posing for the cover of Marie Claire.
On January 12, 2008, Aguilera and Bratman welcomed their son, Max Liron Bratman. Afterward, Aguilera repeatedly stated how much she’s head over heels in love with his son. She even declared her eternal love to little Max with another photo shoot for People magazine, and an album dedicated to him—named “Keeps Gettin’ Better”.
It really kept getting better—but then it got worse.
When Christina Aguilera gave birth to her son with Jordan Bratman, it should’ve been the missing piece to their family puzzle—but instead, she faced a nightmare. All of a sudden, the honeymoon period was over.
The cracks were showing, and when Aguilera secured her starring role in the musical Burlesque and needed to be on set in November 2009, their problems got worse.
Around the time Aguilera finished filming the razzle-dazzle blockbuster, she reported that something didn’t feel right when she was at home with her husband. She said, “I had a lot of things stirring inside of me that I felt were being suppressed”. Even though she reported that the two worked on their marriage, they finally acknowledged this was a hopeless cause.
Right after Aguilera filed a divorce in 2010, she went back to the infamous set of Burlesque to get back something she left there while she was married.
Unlike what happened while filming “Lady Marmalade”, Aguilera made plenty of friends on the set of Burlesque—including a production assistant named Matthew Rutler. It was no surprise that Aguilera charmed Rutler with his talent, beauty, and sass—and the feelings were reciprocal. But when Aguilera and Rutler confirmed their romance in late 2010, questions arose.
People wondered whether the romance started while Aguilera was still Bratman’s wife.
The two were already the talk of the town—and the roar was about to get louder.
In March 2011, officers pulled over a car at 2:45 AM in West Hollywood. In the driver’s seat was Rutler, and sitting next to him was none other than Aguilera…and they weren’t in the best shape. The authorities took them down to the station.
The couple expected to be released right away—but instead, they faced an unpleasant surprise.
When Aguilera went to the station, the officers informed her that she was about to be taken into custody for public intoxication. She was confused, and she even got more disturbed when they told her that her boyfriend would stay longer unless someone paid his $5,000 bail.
The officers put Aguilera behind bars until the next morning. She still needed to deal with her boyfriend’s case though—which revealed something that infuriated Aguilera.
During Rutler’s case, Aguilera and Rutler made a disturbing discovery in the official records. According to the case records, Rutler’s blood alcohol level was .06, which was below the California limit.
After her team presented the evidence, the judge dropped the case—but Aguilera was not ready to let go.
Aguilera and Rutler were very upset about their experience and the way officials treated them. Aguilera commented on this incident in various interviews, saying: “The officers knew my recent history and wanted to jump on the bandwagon.
I don’t mean to martyr myself, but I think I was a victim of celebrity. They called me a ‘political hot potato’. They said, ‘What are we going to do with this woman’? I think they were bored that night”.
The same year, Aguilera took on a new adventure—a commitment that played a big part in her career. She joined The Voice team as a coach, alongside Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and CeeLo Green. For three seasons, she worked side-to-side with them.
Until this point, she had been famous for having feuds with other fellow singers—but this time there was a plot twist.
Christina Aguilera actually got along really well with her fellow coaches, so much so that she even teamed up with one of them for a song.
During her first season, Adam Levine invited Aguilera to collaborate on their newest single, “Moves Like Jagger” which became a match made in heaven for the fans. Both the music video and the song received commercial success, yet there was one glitch.
After the release of the music video, Aguilera had some troubles with the media.
At the time, she had gained a couple of pounds, yet the media heavily criticized the blonde princess’ new curves. Aguilera seemed to be comfortable in her own skin, and she responded to the criticisms against her shape by saying “Actually, the challenge I’ve always had is being too thin, so I love that now I have a booty, and obviously, I love showing my cleavage”.
She was graceful as ever, but one of her friends responded to this criticism with more anger.
Adam Levine—who worked with Aguilera during her time as a coach in The Voice—defended Aguilera against people commenting on her weight. Aguilera was happy with the support she got—and it all solidified that she'd surrounded herself with the right people.
In 2014, Rutler decided to take his relationship with Aguilera to the next level, and on Valentine’s Day, the couple announced their engagement. However, there was a dark side to the happy event.
Aguilera was still heartbroken that there was no one to walk her down the aisle.
Luckily, this next man in her life was about to give her a present that made her forget all her sorrows.
Although Aguilera and Rutler’s engagement was quick, it wasn’t short at all. We don’t know whether they planned a wedding or set a date, but the two never got married. They have been engaged for almost ten years now.
However, while there was no wedding date set in stone, the happy couple did have another announcement to make.
Aguilera and Rutler announced that Aguilera was pregnant with a baby girl. As the summer of 2014 came to an end on August 16, Aguilera gave birth to her lovely daughter—Summer Rain Rutler—in Los Angeles, California. She had already entered into mommyhood, and now she had a baby girl just like her.
However, the happy event was marred by her worry about her son.
With the birth of her daughter, Aguilera noticed that her son—Max—might feel left out. She wanted him to have a good relationship with his father, alongside his stepfather. She said that “It's a struggle. But I can't single out my ex-husband [as the problem] because he's a devoted father and great with my son.
We always make sure that we put Max first”.
Despite their best efforts, there was no denying that Aguilera had perhaps too much on her plate. And she had a difficult choice ahead of her.
Aguilera had a very long journey as one of the coaches on The Voice. Even though she took a break and left the show for certain seasons, she remained a constant there…until her tenth season in 2016. She won the season with her contestant Allison Porter before quitting the show—and she made an exit worthy of a diva.
While parting ways with good friends, she also welcomed old enemies.
Years after their public rivalry, Pink opened up about her reconciliation with Aguilera. She gave an interview with Andy Cohen where she stressed that she and Aguilera are on good terms. Pink didn’t deny the fact that they can’t become BFFs, but she said, “We became moms. We grew up.
We hugged it out. It’s that simple. I feel so good about that”.
In terms of family and friends, Aguilera was in a good place in her life—so she decided it was time to go back to singing. Right after she finished her eighth studio album, Liberation, Aguilera did something she hadn't done for a long time…she went on tour. First came the Liberation Tour in 2018, and then the European Tour in 2019.
This was no ordinary tour for X-tina—because this album was no ordinary album.
For Liberation, Aguilera went in an unusual direction in terms of genres. She used numerous hip-hop beats and other R&B elements, saying that this change represented her “desire for freedom” from the “churning hamster wheel” which was The Voice. She added, “There's nothing like an amazing hip-hop beat”.
Her music changed right at the time an old acquaintance honored her for her old ones.
In 2019, Aguilera became a “Disney Legend”. Not figuratively, but literally—The Disney Legends Awards is an award that recognizes people who made great contributions to the Walt Disney Company. Aguilera became the 2019 recipient, and she performed the song that kickstarted her alliance with Disney and changed her career—"Reflection".
Was she moving forward or coming back to familiar territory?
The answer was in her next album.
In 2021, as a proud Latina, Aguilera decided to honor her Ecuadorian heritage and released her ninth studio album in Spanish—after 22 years of not recording a Spanish album. As a homage, she named the album after her family name. The shows and tours were about to begin again, but there was nothing traditional about the performance she gave a couple of months after the release of the album.
At one of her tour stops, Aguilera made the headlines when she performed at the 2022 Pride celebration in Los Angeles. She performed alongside her "Lady Marmalade" collaborator Mya and the millennial princess Paris Hilton, but the thing that shocked everyone wasn’t the collaborators. It was Aguilera’s costume. She wore a 10-inch adult toy with glitter all over it as she performed the song “XXX”.
People had some mixed opinions.
Aguilera has been an ally for the LGBTQ community for a long time. Her hit single “Beautiful” became an anthem for embracing your inner self, and she even got an award from the Human Rights Campaign for “bringing greater visibility to the LGBTQ community”. Because of her bold choice in her performance, people praised her courage and alliance with the community, declaring her as a “gay icon”.
In 2012, Aguilera finally opened up about a painful time in her past. Acknowledging that she blamed her father’s destructive behavior for their problematic relationship, she nevertheless stated that she may be ready to reconcile with him. She said, “Maybe one day we can do lunch...I'm 31 years old now.
Maybe it's time".
We don’t know whether she got closer to her dad, but she certainly got closer to another man in her life.
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