Come on over, come on over Christina Aguilera—because tonight is your night.
On Tuesday, Dec. 7, the powerhouse singer was honored with the first-ever Music Icon Award at the 2021 People’s Choice Awards. After all, with five Grammy Awards, 15 more nominations, eight studio albums and more hits than we can count, it was only a matter of time before the 40-year-old star was cemented as the icon that she is.
The mom of two started her special night by performing a medley of her most empowering hits, including “Fighter,” “Genie in a Bottle,” “Can’t Hold Us Down” and “Beautiful,” as well as her new ballad “Somos Nada.”
Christina rocked multiple outfit changes, going from a black ruffled ballgown to yellow-and-black flared pants and finally a stunning draped chartreuse gown.
When the time came to accept the milestone award, she did so with her fans and family top of mind.
“Matty, I love you, thanks for dealing with all of this always,” she said of her longtime fiancé Matthew Rutler, before sending love to her children: Max, 13, and Summer, 7.
“And of course, my true icons, my angels, my babies. Max and Summer, I love you,” Christina said onstage.
While she’s always been a note—or a few—above the rest, Christina was sure to recognize other inspiring women in her speech.
“My artistry has always been for the fighters in this world, for those who face adversity, for those wanting to invoke change, my music is for you. Believing in yourself is often the biggest obstacle of all,” she shared. “Throughout the years I’ve heard your stories about the impact of songs like ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Fighter,’ ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’ and, yes, even ‘Dirrty.'”
The legend added, “I want to thank all of the women I’ve been blessed to share the stage, microphone and recording room over the years. You are all icons to me. I’m proud we have strengthened the voices of women in the music industry.”
Xtina also thanked her team, band and backup dancers during the “surreal” moment, saying, “My amazing dancers, you give me life and save my ass.”
During this year’s show, more beloved stars are being recognized for their talent and contributions over the course of their careers, including People’s Icon Award recipient Halle Berry, Fashion Icon Award honoree Kim Kardashian West and People’s Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
But when it comes to music, Christina’s was the name on everyone’s lips.
“There is a reason Christina Aguilera is referred to as ‘the voice of our generation.’ She not only has an extraordinary voice, but as a creator, produces music that evokes true emotion and resonates across so many different demographics,” said Jen Neal, Executive Vice President, Entertainment Live Events, Specials & E! News, NBCUniversal Entertainment Television and Streaming. “Christina is an idol.”
Check out more of the Music Icon Award winner’s most inspirational quotes below.
“At the end of the day, I am a soul singer,” Xtina candidly shared with Billboard. “When you strip back the words ‘pop star’ and the many things that I’ve done, singing soulfully is where my core, my root and my heart really is. And as you can see, it’s what I’m inspired by.”
“What was great was how badass I was at such a young age to then write ‘Can’t Hold Us Down,'” Aguilera mentions her girl power anthem with Paper. “We are coming slowly but surely around a corner, not taking the things that we used to.” The pop star recalls an earlier song from her career “I’m OK,” stating, “It was like, am I honestly? Obviously, I’m not fully ok. It’s a journey into never quite bandaging my wounds.”
“I felt super label-driven and confined [being] commercially successful. And as great as it looks on the outside, I’m such a truth girl that if I’m not happy with something, I just can’t do it anymore,” the former The Voice coach revealed to Billboard.
“I was feeling a sense of rebellion,” Aguilera shared with Cosmopolitan. “Freed from the formulaic experience, I just threw out anything I felt was a little plastic or a little stale or was eating me up with superficiality.” The powerhouse vocalist revealed how “Dirrty” was controversial at the time, saying, “I hope I paved the way and helped set the ground rules that women can be any version of themselves they wanna be…and proud of it.”
When it comes to fear, the Grammy Award-winning singer has some sage advice.
“Be fearless in breaking new boundaries and don’t be afraid to go against the grain of criticism along the way,” the “Can’t Hold Us Down” shared with Paper.
“Either women are not sexual enough or we’re not fulfilling enough of a fantasy for you,” the “Fighter” singer said in a Paper interview. “But then if we’re overtly sexual or feeling empowered in a certain kind of way, then we’re shamed for it.”
Aguilera has famously always been extremely vocal about and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
“These are people who I grew up with and who are brilliant, talented and strong that deserve for their voice to be heard and fought for, as well,” Christina said in a statement to Paper. “I love hanging out with just my close girlfriends and guy friends, which happen to be my gay friends…Just good, quality time with people who are super down to earth.”
“You have to connect with the right people that bring certain energies into your life,” Aguilera explained further to the mag. And have the ability to let go of a lot of things that have hurt you. It’s a big deal.
Christina has always admired the female form and supports body positivity.
“I love the female body, and I think it’s something to be proud of, not something that men should dictate ownership of,” the “What a Girl Wants” singer told Billboard.
“When I first started out, I would never have dreamed of doing an interview without makeup on,” Christina shared with Cosmopolitan. She also told the mag, “I still love getting glammed up, but I want to show imperfections on this go-round.”
“I made up my mind at a really young age that I had to do for myself,” Aguilera recalled on choices made earlier in her career to Billboard. “I never wanted a man to tell me what I could and couldn’t do, what I could and couldn’t spend. I always knew I had to be the queen of my castle.”
And when it comes to dating someone in the industry, Aguilera didn’t hold back, saying, “I’ve had opportunities, but it isn’t my style to date another person in the business.”
“My dad was very dominant with my mom, and I always knew I was never going to let a man take advantage of me like that,” Aguilera revisited her past with Billboard. “I had no super-strong women around me, and I thought feeling inferior, small, or helpless just had to be accepted.”
“I’ve always been someone that obviously loves to experiment, loves theatrics, loves to create a storyline and play a character in a video or through stage,” Christina revealed to Paper. “I’m a performer, that’s who I am by nature. But I’m at the place, even musically, where it’s a liberating feeling to be able to strip it all back and appreciate who you are and your raw beauty.”
After nearly three decades in the biz, Aguilera still finds balancing work and family challenging.
“When I’m onstage, there’s not a bigger high, when I’m in connection with my voice and my heart and my soul,” Aguilera revealed to Billboard. “But at the end [of a performance], I want to wipe it all off, get in my sweatpants, make silly noises with my kids and have someone comfort and cuddle me.”
Being a former Muskateer, it’s no wonder Aguilera has reservations about child stardom.
“I don’t want to inject too much upon her as to how I’m choosing to live my life and what I’ve done in my career,” she said of daughter Summer Rain in a Paper interview. “I just hope I can allow what I’m doing to influence her to be her own person. That’s truly what I hope for her. I really want to make sure my children are both very confident in the sense that they know who they are and that they won’t be easily swayed by outside opinion.”
“You can either be, unfortunately, so damaged by it that you take a turn for the worse, or you can feel empowered by it and make choices to never go down that route,” the “Beautiful” singer reflected on her career to Paper. “I think we go through up and down moments. There are outlets where I feel like I’m good, and that was being onstage, able to exude and release and feel. That was my form of feeling empowered.”
Navigating social media is no easy feat for any parent and Aguilera shared her thoughts with Paper.,”There’s always gonna be the good and the evil, the dark and the light. I think now is the time, more than ever, that we’re seeing that in every sense of the word.”
The Latin diva didn’t mince words on the topic of online trolls. “It’s like my Instagram says right now,” Christina says, referring to her avatar in which she’s wearing velour track pants, sunglasses and a fur coat draped over a particular slogan shirt. “Everybody that can’t hop on that train can suck our dicks.”
On the subject of finding longevity with a romantic partner, Aguilera was candid with Billboard, stating, “The routine can be monotonous. You gotta be spontaneous. Being a sexual person who’s comfortable in my own skin, a sense of adventure is important to me, going on road trips, staying in hotels.”
Christina doesn’t have time for hater culture. In a Billboard interview, she recalls the challenges she faced in the past. “It’s hard to hear yourself being called names,” she said. “It’s like, if I’m going to be demure and innocent, that’s okay. But if I’m going to just be myself, I’m trouble.”
“Madonna had to go through it in her day, and she paved the way for my generation to come up,” Christina explained to Billboard. “And paying it forward, now a younger generation is coming up and I’m loving what I’m seeing. It’s so incredible.”