Christina Aguilera On How She 'Connected Big Time' to 'Liberation' Collaborators, From Kanye to Demi

And the two that got away....

She's back: After a six-year album hiatus, Christina Aguilera is set to release the just-announced Liberation on June 15. But there are more surprises yet, as the hip-hop inspired project includes collaborations with everyone from her own longtime fan Demi Lovato to Kanye West, who produced two tracks. Below, Aguilera runs through the stories behind the album's standout collabs -- and the ones that almost were.

CHRISTINA COLLABORATED WITH...

Demi Lovato?

“We went through a few names of women. I needed a belty singer, and she took it to the next level. I almost cried when I first heard her on the record.”

Kanye West

“The orchestration on ‘Maria’ felt cinematic. I’m a storyteller, a message-T-shirt girl. And I just felt like, ‘Man, I can tell my story through this song.’”

Anderson .Paak

“He and I connected big-time. He was like, ‘I used to watch you on TRL!’ He’s a great lyricist, soul singer and rapper. And he murders the drums.”

AND WISHES SHE'D GOTTEN... 

Cardi B

“Somebody played me an early mixtape. And a producer said, ‘Nobody’s going to know Cardi in a year.’ I second-guessed myself, and it got lost in the shuffle.”

Childish Gambino?

“I wanted him, but he had just started on Atlanta. He said, ‘You can hang out while I record music.’ I never took him up on it. Now I’m like, ‘What was I thinking?’”

Reporting by Allie Jones.

This article originally appeared in the May 5 issue of Billboard.

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