Christina Aguilera is putting The Voice behind her.
Along with CeeLo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, Aguilera was one of the reality competition’s original coaches. She returned for Seasons 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, allowing other artists—like Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Shakira and Gwen Stefani—to sub in. In the May 5 issue of Billboard, Aguilera says she’s done with NBC’s ratings juggernaut. Doing the show was an “energy sucker,” she says, comparing it to a “churning hamster wheel.”
“I was longing for freedom,” she adds. When she’d leave the set from 2011 to 2016, she tells the magazine, “I would just take everything off the makeup, all of it and would blast hip-hop, or Nirvana, ‘Creep,’ Slayer. Anything like that to get me out of that zone, that TV mode.”
Aguilera says she felt “suffocated and restricted” during that period. “I didn’t get into this business to be a television show host and to be given all these rules. Especially as a female: You can’t wear this, can’t say that. I would find myself on that show desperately trying to express myself through clothing or makeup or hair. It was my only kind of outlet.” Over time, Aguilera argues, “It became something that I didn’t feel was what I had signed up for in Season 1. You realize it’s not about music. It’s about making good TV moments and massaging a story.”
On June 15, Aguilera will release her new album: Liberation. She worked with singer Demi Lovato, songwriter Julia Michaels and producer Kanye West, among others. Aguilera’s plans to record with Cardi B and Childish Gambino didn’t pan out. “To me, there’s nothing like an amazing hip-hop beat,” the “Accelerate” singer says. “At the end of the day, I am a soul singer. 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.”
Aguilera will hit the road to support her latest effort, for the first time in over a decade. “Touring is so frightening to me, because I am a mom first. It’s part of why I stayed in the position I was at The Voice,” she says. “It’s easy to get comfortable and cushy in the same place and not have to worry about uprooting your kids. I’ve been putting myself on the back burner.” No more. As the five-time Grammy winner tells Billboard, “It needs to happen. I’m looking forward to getting back out and actually showing my kids what Mommy really does!”