The Voice Within

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"The Voice Within"
Single by Christina Aguilera
from the album Stripped
ReleasedOctober 26, 2003 [1]
FormatCD single
RecordedThe Record Plant
(Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
NRG Recording Studios
(North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
GenrePop, soul
Length5:04 (Album Version)
4:15 (Single Edit)
4:24 (Radio Edit)
LabelRCA
Writer(s)Christina Aguilera, Glen Ballard
ProducerGlen Ballard
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
"Can't Hold Us Down"
(2003)
"The Voice Within"
(2003)
"Car Wash"
(2004)
 
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"The Voice Within"
Single by Christina Aguilera
from the album Stripped
ReleasedOctober 26, 2003 [1]
FormatCD single
RecordedThe Record Plant
(Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
NRG Recording Studios
(North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
GenrePop, soul
Length5:04 (Album Version)
4:15 (Single Edit)
4:24 (Radio Edit)
LabelRCA
Writer(s)Christina Aguilera, Glen Ballard
ProducerGlen Ballard
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
"Can't Hold Us Down"
(2003)
"The Voice Within"
(2003)
"Car Wash"
(2004)

"The Voice Within" is a song by American recording artist Christina Aguilera, taken from her fourth studio album "Stripped" (2002). The song was written by Christina Aguilera and Glen Ballard, with production by Ballard and is a piano-ballad about trusting yourself and your instincts. The song received positive reviews from music critics, who compared Aguilera with artists, such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, while naming it "an inspirational ballad."

It was released as the fifth and final single from the album and achieved moderate success across Europe and Australia, where it peaked inside the top ten in most countries where it charted. It was moderately successful in the U.S., peaking at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 11 on the Pop Songs and number 16 on the Adult Contemporary.

The single is most known for its simplistic, but critically acclaimed music video that was filmed in black and white as a single continuous camera shot and was directed by David LaChapelle. The video was nominated for three 2004 MTV Video Music Awards. Aguilera performed the track on her Stripped World Tour and its DVD Stripped Live in the U.K..

Contents

Background and release

"Soar", "Impossible" and "The Voice Within" were in the running for the fifth single.[2] Aguilera did not want "The Voice Within" to be released as the fifth single. She was lobbying for "Impossible", a track from Stripped, which was produced by Alicia Keys, as she felt it would help her break into the urban market.[2] RCA Records wanted to release a big ballad during the holiday season like they did the year prior with "Beautiful" and felt that 'The Voice Within' was the perfect candidate. Eventually, Aguilera's label made the final decision and the idea of 'Impossible' being the final single was scrapped.[2]

Composition

"The Voice Within" was written by both Aguilera and Glen Ballard, and was produced by the latter. It is a piano ballad about trusting yourself and your instincts. The album version extends the song about five seconds and blends it with the next track, "I'm OK". An alternate edit clocking in at 4 minutes and 26 seconds appears on the compilation album Totally Hits 2004. Aguilera's, voice range spans from D3 to F♯5.[3]

In the piano-led power ballad, in the vein of Beautiful, Christina consoles and encourages her younger self to "look inside yourself" when times get tough. "Life is a journey/It can take you anywhere you choose to go/As long as you're learning/You'll find all you'll ever need to know/You'll make it/Just don't go forsaking yourself/No one can stop you/You know that I'm talking to you!" The appearance of a gospel choir towards the end enhances the inspirational tone of the track.[4]

Critical reception

Several critics opined that the song is reminiscent to Celine Dion's (left) and Mariah Carey's (right) songs.

Josh Kun from Spin called it a "swoony Celine-for-teens ballad,"[5] while Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine named it "an inspirational power-vocal-pushing ballad."[6] CD Universe wrote a positive review, commenting: "Her rich, throaty style works well on slower numbers like the Mariah-like 'The Voice Within'."[7] Amanda Murray from Sputnikmusic wrote that the song is "tacky but powerful all the same."[8]

The website "Traveling to the Heart" gave to the song a mixed review, writing: "The song is filler, amid a crop of choice ballads. The superior Soar already filled the quota of inspirational songs. With this single, she’s cloying and apparently, caught in the early 90s. 'The Voice Within' seems as though it’s a cover of a rejected Whitney Houston song. The choir addition towards the end is an overdose of saccharine and unnecessary. With the choir, 'The Voice Within' is far more dramatic than it needs to be."[9] The website Epinions wrote: "Although The Voice Within is more sappy and cliche than Beautiful, it ties into Stripped's central and universal theme of self-love and empowerment."[4]

Eamonn McCusker from "The Digital Fix" wrote a favorable review, commenting: "The song is a very much the latter [Beautiful], starting with Christina singing solo but which gradually ups the song to include a gospel choir, fat power ballad drums and big, chunky chords played on a piano. Whilst the song itself is as good as Beautiful, you sense that, to the public, Christina Aguilera is one of those artists with one good song and many more that are little more than forgettable. The Voice Within is good but until Christina Aguilera becomes a little more respected and begins having regular hits in the UK, expect songs like this to be top twenty but to go little higher."[10]

Chart performance

The song enjoyed moderate success troughout Europe and Australia, peaking in the top 10 in most countries. On the Australian ARIA Charts, the song debuted at number 9, on the week of February 1, 2004.[11] In the second week, the song peaked at number 8.[11] It fell to number 9, on the third week and it stayed eight weeks at the top fifty.[11] On the Austrian Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 13, on the week of December 21, 2003.[12] In the third week, the song peaked at number 7, and in the fourth week, the song stayed at the same peak position.[12] It stayed on the charts for eighteen weeks.[12] On the Swiss Singles Chart, the song peaked at number 3, becoming the album's highest charting single, alongside Dirrty.[11] On the Swedish Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 18.[13] In the fifth week, the song peaked at number 10 and it stayed on the charts for thirteen weeks.[13] On the Dutch Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 19 and in the third week, it peaked at number 8.[14] It remained for fourteen weeks on the charts.[14]

In the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song peaked at number 33, becoming Aguilera's eleventh top-forty hit.[15] It charted on the Pop Songs, where it peaked at number 11.[15] The song also charted on the Adult Contemporary and Adult Pop Songs, where it peaked at number 16 and 33, respectively.[15]

Music video

Aguilera sitting on a box in the black-and-white music video.

The song's music video was directed by David LaChapelle and produced by LaChapelle Studio and MMG. LaChapelle and Aguilera did several more takes, but only one was as good as the first. They went with take five, but "it was a toss-up."[16] LaChapelle worked with Aguilera before on the Dirrty music video.

He explained to MTV News the video's concept: "There's all kinds of connotations to the word 'stripped.'" "I wanted to strip it down to one take". "Just her and this incredible voice. And really not have anything that is going to overshadow that." "She's trying to grow as an artist and along the way she's taking all kinds of risks and a lot of times people let those things overshadow her ability and her talent." "I wanted to bring it all back as a sort of bookend to this album."[16] He further commented: "I wrote the treatment and when [Aguilera] read it, she said, 'This is so weird, I feel like I wrote this. It was exactly what I was thinking,' " LaChapelle recalled. "We were on the same page and synchronized in what we wanted to do."[16]

The director felt he and Aguilera were entering the experimental video from a similar vantage point.

"We're multi-faceted". "Christina's explored a lot of parts of herself, her sexuality, and this is a part of her too. People say to me, 'You're the color guy.' Well, I spent six years only shooting black-and-white. People don't understand you can be an artist and do different types of things. Me and Christina are up against the same things. Don't let other people's labels make you feel like you're stuck in a box. It's not about living up to limitations people put on you."[16]

It opens with a close-up of Aguilera and zooms out to her wearing a slip and sitting in an abandoned prop room. In one continuous black-and-white shot, Aguilera walks through several rooms, exits the building, and finally lays on a light box. The video was filmed at a deserted theater in downtown Los Angeles, California. It is inspired by neorealist works.[16] "The Voice Within'" was the eleventh video for Aguilera to appear on TRL. The video hit number one twice and spent thirty-seven days on the countdown.

The video was nominated for three 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, Best Female Video, Viewer's Choice, and Best Cinematography.

Live performances and cover versions

Aguilera performing the song during Stripped World Tour

"The Voice Within" was performed by Aguilera on her Stripped World Tour, being the third song on the setlist, after "Get Mine, Get Yours" and before "Genie in a Bottle".[17] Before the performance, Aguilera talks to the audience and says to them to be themselves and not give up on their dreams and later, she performs the track.[17] The performance consisted in Aguilera wearing a long black coat.[17] The song is also present on the DVD Stripped Live in the U.K..

The song was performed on the third season of Australian Idol during "Contestant's Choice" week (Top 9) by Roxane LeBrasse. Despite receiving good reviews from the judges, LeBrasse was eliminated the next night. The song was performed later by American Idol 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee during 'Songs from the 21st Century' week (Top 10). During this performance, judge Simon Cowell compared McPhee's abilities to that of Aguilera's, saying the former's performance was almost as good as the original singer. He then said it was mediocre during the result show the night after, where McPhee landed in the bottom two. In How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? finalist Meliz Serman performed this in the second week. Her performance was not strong and she was put into the bottom two, only to be saved by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The song was then used in 2010, when Jessica Robinson performed it in Over the Rainbow.[18] The song was later performed in the film The Voice Within by Regina Fuller and the title was borrowed for the film. It was also covered by a Hong Kong singer G.E.M. and released as a single. The Nolans covered this song on their 2009 'I'm In The Mood Again' tour.

Track listings and formats

CD maxi-single

  1. "The Voice Within" [Album Version] — 5:04
  2. "The Voice Within" [Single Edit] — 4:15
  3. "Beautiful" [Fug Remix] — 5:47
  4. "Can't Hold Us Down" [Da Yard Riddim Mix] — 4:16

Canadian CD single

  1. "The Voice Within" [Album Version] — 5:04
  2. "Can't Hold Us Down" [Da Yard Riddim Mix] — 4:16

Official remixes

Chart

Charts (2003–04)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[19]8
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 75)[20]7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[21]14
Belgium (Ultratop 40 Wallonia)[22]40
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[23]10
Denmark (Tracklisten)[24]9
European Hot 100 Singles[25]13
Germany (Media Control AG)[26]13
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[27]8
Ireland (IRMA)[28]4
Italy (FIMI)[29]19
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[30]6
New Zealand (RIANZ)[31]16
Norway (VG-lista)[32]13
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[33]10
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[34]3
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[35]9
US Billboard Hot 100[36]33
US Pop Songs (Billboard)[37]11
US Adult Pop Songs (Billboard)[38]33
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[39]16

Year-end charts

Chart (2003)Rank
UK[40]195
Chart (2004)Rank
Austria[41]37
Switzerland[42]35

Release history

CountryDateFormat
United States[43]October 26, 2003Top 40/Mainstream radio
United Kingdom[44]December 8, 2003CD Single
Germany[45]

References

  1. ^ http://gfa.radioandrecords.com/publishGFA/GFANextPage.asp?sDate=10/26/2003&Format=1
  2. ^ a b c RCA News, 2003.
  3. ^ "The Voice Within - Christina Aguilera Digital Sheet Music". Sheet Music. http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdFPE.asp?ppn=MN0043944#ProductDetails. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "The Voice Within - Single - Epinions.com". Epinions. http://www.epinions.com/review/The_Voice_Within_Single_-_Christina_Aguilera/content_545676103300. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ Kun, Josh. "Spin review". Spin.com. http://www.spin.com/reviews/christina-aguilera-stripped-rca. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  6. ^ "Slant Magazine review". Slantmagazine.com. November 2, 2002. http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=223. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  7. ^ "Christina Aguilera - Stripped LP". CD Universe. http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=7562643. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  8. ^ Murray, Amanda (July 3, 2006). "Christina Aguilera - Stripped (staff review) | Stripped". Sputnikmusic. http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/8088/Christina-Aguilera-Stripped/. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Traveling To the Heart >> Music Review: Christina Aguilera "The Voice Within"". Traveling To the Heart. January 21, 2004. http://dusk411.joeuser.com/article/5355. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within | Review | Music @ The Digital Fix". The Digital Fix. December 7, 2003. http://music.thedigitalfix.com/content/261/christina-aguilera.html. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Australian-Charts.com - Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within". ARIA Charts.. Hung Medien. http://www.australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Christina+Aguilera&titel=The+Voice+Within&cat=s. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c "Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within - austriancharts.com". Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. http://austriancharts.at/showitem.asp?interpret=Christina+Aguilera&titel=The+Voice+Within&cat=s. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Swedishcharts.com - Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within". Swedish Singles Chart.. Hung Medien. http://swedishcharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Christina+Aguilera&titel=The+Voice+Within&cat=s. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl - Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within". Dutch Singles Chart. Hung Medien. http://dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Christina+Aguilera&titel=The+Voice+Within&cat=s. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "The Voice Within - Christina Aguilera | Billboard.com". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/#/song/christina-aguilera/the-voice-within/4271746. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
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  44. ^ http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Voice-Within-Christina-Aguilera/dp/B0000YS81O/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1339899238&sr=1-3
  45. ^ http://www.amazon.de/The-Voice-Within-Christina-Aguilera/dp/B0000VAWNO/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1339899204&sr=1-1