Pop stars like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Rihanna are expected to reinvent themselves. Each album marks the beginning of a new era, typically titled The [ALBUM NAME] Era. Beyoncé has gone through The Sasha Fierce Era, The IV Era, The Self-Titled Era, and now The Formation Era; Rihanna likewise went through seven distinct eras during seven consecutive years.
Most of these transformations don’t find our pop stars completely reinventing themselves, however; these progressions tend to build upon one another. It’s rare for a pop star to push their sound and image in a totally unexpected direction. Christina Aguilera going full retro pinup girl a decade ago this month for Back to Basics is the equivalent of Lana Del Rey doing EDM today. We’re not talking dabbling in a slightly different sound, we’re talking full old-school time period immersion. It’s surprising, but when done right, the results are often some of the best years/singles of an artist’s career. Here, we look at four instances where it paid off in spades.