Bionic is a whole lot to unpack. Not just because there are a whopping 23 tracks, but because of how very puzzling this collection of songs is.

On Bionic, we have a tracklist of futuristic beats that genuinely did not sound like anything else out there at the time. Sprinkled in, we’ve got five ballads that forcibly pull you right out of the electro-pop mood the album so carefully sets. The only ballad that genuinely tugs the heartstrings is Lift Me Up. The rest fall victim to the skip button.

In a world where Lady Gaga never existed, would Bionic have received the justice it (mostly) deserves? Xtina says of the record:

“ahead of its time… You had to really be a music lover, be a true fan of music and the love of being open to really appreciate that record.”

This may be true, but it’s alienating for the artist herself to make that claim. Let others decide what it takes to be a true fan of music. With the 13-track version above, I can appreciate Bionic a whole lot more.

Songs cut: Elastic Love has the makings of an excellent song if it wasn’t for the strange obsession with metaphors for office supplies. I’ve also cut all three intros: Love & Glamour (Intro), Morning Dessert (Intro), and My Heart (Intro). Only one ballad survived, meaning we had to lose Stronger Than Ever, You Lost Me, I Am, and All I Need (this record is clearly made for the gays, and we don’t want to hear about babies.) Also cut: My Girls.

Best song: Woohoo

When I first went through the process of making a playlist for this album, only two songs survived (Let There Be Love and Cease Fire.)

I decided to sleep on it, after which I started to wonder why I have such high hopes for Xtina. She’s probably my number one favorite pop star ever since the Stripped era. I’ve realized that my expectations build to impossibly high levels during the large gaps between her albums (2002, 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2018.)

Lotus was fine. It had some great moments and it had some forgettable moments. I lowered my expectations and was able to put together a nine-track playlist that is a very enjoyable album. It may be the lowest-selling album of her career, but it’s worth a listen above!

Songs cut: Red Hot Kinda Love, Sing For Me, Around The World, Circles, Best Of Me, Empty Words, and Shut Up.

Best song: Let There Be Love (seriously, how was this not a SMASH?!)

After Bionic and Lotus failed to make any kind of impact (justice for Bionic!), Xtina is herself (tonight) again on Liberation. With this record, she seems to have given up on being the chart-topper she once was and instead is creating the music she wants to create. It’s this IDGAF attitude that makes Liberation so good.

Songs cut: Dreamers (Interlude) is an important message but you’re better off skipping ahead to the good stuff. Also Sick of Sittin’, I Don’t Need It Anymore (Interlude), Masochist, and Unless It’s With You.

Worst lyric: In Like I Do, Xtina sings “We can Marvin Gaye and get it on.” Haven’t we learned anything from Meghan Trainor?

Best song: Deserve