By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Christina Aguilera has the vocal chops, the look, the strut and millions of new fans thanks to her stint as a judge on TV singing contest "The Voice."
But can she still sell records?
The singer, who had global hits with "Genie in a Bottle" and the female empowerment ballad "Beautiful" more than 10 years ago, bids to reclaim her status as one of the world's biggest pop stars with her new album, "Lotus," released on Tuesday.
Aguilera, 31, says the title and the mixture of dance-pop, ballads and rock-tinged tracks reflect the hopes and disappointments of recent years that saw her 2010 tour for album "Bionic" canceled, a divorce and the box-office flop of her debut feature film, the musical "Burlesque."
"Lotus represents the unbreakable flower that stands the test of time. No matter the roughest of weather conditions, it remains strong and continues to thrive. (The album) is a nod to my fans who have been here with me the whole journey, and a nod to myself," she said.
"It is a record of freedom and embracing that...It is very artistic at times, it is very fun at times, it is very free. I think that's how music and life should be, away from all the negativity," the four-time Grammy winner said in an appearance at a Billboard Film and TV Music conference in Los Angeles last month.
Aguilera will perform one of the tracks - "Make the World Move" - with her fellow judge Cee Lo Green live on "The Voice" this week for the show's more than 10 million viewers.
But music industry experts say Aguilera's popularity on "The Voice" - where her powerhouse performances leave aspiring pop stars in the dust - may not guarantee huge album sales and won't give the singer a No. 1 hit.
This week also sees new releases from British boy band One Direction and singer Susan Boyle as well as the new "Twilight" film soundtrack.
NOT A BLOCKBUSTER
"I think 'Lotus' will certainly debut in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart. But we don't see it as being a blockbuster out of the gate," said Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard.
"It is a long road to rebuilding Christina as a brand and as a musician, after the last album didn't so very well," said Caulfield. "But it's not always about first week sales."
Much like Jennifer Lopez on "American Idol," Aguilera has seen her star rocket in her 18 months on "The Voice." Just a few months before the TV show made its debut in spring 2011, Aguilera was arrested for being drunk in public in West Hollywood, and her 2010 album "Bionic" had sold a disappointing 312,000 copies.
"'The Voice' has reinvigorated her entire career. A lot of people think she is the star of 'The Voice' - the judge you tune in for," said Lyndsey Parker, managing editor at Yahoo! Music.
Yet the first single - "Your Body" - from the new album failed to make a big impact when it was released in September. It peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and never really caught fire on radio.
"It came and went, which surprised me because I think it is a very strong song. And pretty much everything I have heard on this album is strong. I think it's a real return to form," said Parker.
"There are very few people in pop who can sing like her. I do think there is a renewed appreciation for great singing that can be done live and that isn't just about flash. And Christina is coming back to prove that. I think some people are looking at her to take back her crown," Parker added.
"Lotus" includes duets with both Green and Aguilera's fellow "Voice" judge, country singer Blake Shelton. It also features the piano-driven ballad "Blank Page," which is reminiscent of her 2002 hit "Beautiful" and rock-tinged tracks like "Army of Me."
Aguilera says she hopes to inspire a new generation of singers who were not around in 1999 for her first big hit "Genie in a Bottle."
"It's so exciting for me to show them what I do as an artist," she said. "I've been through a lot over the past few years, going through 'Burlesque,' a divorce...having a few setbacks....Stuff happens! This is the business. It's not going to be all cute and pretty and tied up in a bow.
"All of that combined is in 'Lotus.' It embraces the woman that I've become, and embracing myself coming full circle as a pop star," she said.
(Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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