The current Las Vegas Strip entertainment landscape isn’t dominated by musical residencies—it’s dominated by women as headliners.
Celine Dion remains the most iconic name on this exclusive list as she closes out her historic run at Caesars Palace in the coming weeks, and the Colosseum also has Mariah Carey and Reba McEntire (with Brooks & Dunn) to balance its residency roster with Rod Stewart and next year’s show from Sting.
The most successful male headliner is Bruno Mars at Park Theater, but the other solo act residents in that room are Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson and Cher, an unbelievable lineup.
The other massively successful big room built by a female act is Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater (thanks to Britney Spears), and it has continued shining the spotlight on women with Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani and now, Christina Aguilera, who debuts The Xperience on May 31.
With the residency trend expanding into group acts like Aerosmith and Def Leppard, it’s becoming clear that there are simply more female solo artists who can command the required audience and attention to hold down a monumental headlining gig. But in the case of Aguilera, the multiple Grammy-winning singer who exploded across the charts with her Planet Hollywood pop predecessors Spears and the Backstreet Boys in 1999, playing Vegas was all about timing.
“The last time I had been on tour was when I was pregnant with my son [in 2008], and being such a mama bear and wanting to take care of my kids and all of that first, it was a long time coming,” she told Billboard in January.
Aguilera returned to touring last year behind her latest album, Liberation. “The whole point of Liberation was getting back in touch with myself, finding that love, being in my artist body again, finding my true self and identity onstage again. It was just like coming home. And I want to take that to Las Vegas.”
Aguilera has always been recognized first for her powerful, soulful voice, but right behind that, for her chameleonic and influential sense of style and fashion. From a midriff-baring teenager, to the rebellious and risqué vibes of “Dirrty” and Stripped, to the retro blonde bombshell of Back to Basics, her looks have been just as memorable as her hits. That factor bodes well for the creation of a splashy Vegas production.
“I’m such a visual person, and I’ve been acquiring all these inspirations,” Aguilera told Billboard. “Las Vegas is an amazing place to put all of that together. People visit to experience something new, to escape their everyday world. I wanted to put together a fantasy and let people [slip] into a world of finding their own true selves … give the audience a chance to take off whatever mask they might have to wear in their regular lives.”
CHRISTINA AGUILERA: THE XPERIENCE May 31-June 16, $60-$370. Zappos Theater, 702-785-5882.