Director Steven Antin’s new movie musical “Burlesque”– in which Christina Aguilera stars as a young Hollywood hopeful looking to impress a nightclub impresario played by Cher — arrives in theaters Nov. 24. But RCA Music Group senior VP of marketing and artist development Scott Seviour says record buyers may think of a different holiday when the film’s soundtrack is released Nov. 22.
“To get a new song from someone like Cher that’s as fresh as ‘You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me’ — that’s like Christmas morning to her fans,” he says.
A Diane Warren-penned power ballad, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” is joined on the 10-track set by another Cher number, “Welcome to Burlesque,” as well as eight new Aguilera cuts, including covers of two Etta James songs the singer says she “grew up singing all alone in my bedroom with the door closed.” Among the writers and producers featured on the album are Tricky Stewart, Ron Fair, Linda Perry and Aguilera herself.
“I wrote synopses of what the songs should be about before anyone else came onboard,” says Antin, whose sister Robin founded the original Pussycat Dolls dance troupe (with whom Aguilera has performed). “That’s how I sold the movie.” Once the film was in production, Antin and music supervisor Buck Damon solicited songwriting submissions from “some really, really impressive people,” Antin says. “Christina said to me, ‘Can I try?’ and I said, ‘Sure, throw your hat in the ring. The best song wins.’ She was down for it.”
Aguilera says that in her selections she wanted to combine the throwback vibe of her 2006 “Back to Basics” set with modern-day sounds: “Big bottom-end bass in the beat, then old-school horn pops — things like that.” She singles out as a favorite “Bound to You,” which she co-wrote with Sia Furler, who also contributed to Aguilera’s “Bionic” from earlier this year.
Sales of that album have fallen well short of the numbers notched by Aguilera’s earlier releases; according to Nielsen SoundScan, “Bionic” has sold 250,000 copies, compared with 1.7 million of “Back to Basics.” A canceled summer tour fueled further chatter about the project’s lukewarm reception. Seviour insists that calling off the tour was unavoidable given the movie’s demanding promotional schedule. “It’s not like the music industry, where the talent comes out two weeks before the album,” he says. “They started at the end of July.
“Burlesque,” he adds, “ideally gives us the opportunity to remarket ‘Bionic.’ “
Though RCA hasn’t serviced a soundtrack single to radio, Ryan Seacrest premiered the track “Express” on his website on Nov. 3, and Seviour says the label will revisit the idea of a single after the movie opens. Cher appeared on “Late Show With David Letterman” on Nov. 11, while Seviour says Aguilera is scheduled to perform material from the soundtrack Nov. 21 at the American Music Awards and Nov. 23 on the season finale of “Dancing With the Stars.”
“I knew going into ‘Burlesque’ that it would intertwine with ‘Bionic,’ ” Aguilera says. “But I also knew that I’d get to a point where regardless of what was happening with my record I’d have to turn my attention to the movie.” She laughs. “I’ve basically put everything in my life on hold for the movie.”