"What a Girl Wants" is the second single from Christina Aguilera's self-titled debut album, Christina Aguilera. The song was released as the official second single on November 28, 1999.
The song was described as a pop and R&B track and had similarities to "Genie in a Bottle". It received positive reviews from music critics, who described it as a "light" song and compared Aguilera's vocals on the track to those of Mariah Carey. Commercially, the song became her second consecutive US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, and topped the charts in Canada, New Zealand, and Spain. The single eventually earned gold certifications in countries including Australia, Belgium, Sweden and the US.
After what was described as an "incredible" response to her debut single, the interest in Aguilera began to grow, at which point her record label decided it was time to release a second single. The label and Aguilera disputed over which track should be released, with Aguilera recalling: "You know, some people do want me to stay in the pop scene, [but] I want to grow from there. I always want to continue growing and getting to that level of, 'Oh, she's a real singer, a real ballad-singer, she can do it'." However the announcement then came that "What a Girl Wants" would be released as the follow-up single, with Aguilera saying "The next single will be 'What a Girl Wants', but a totally cool remix of it". The single was not chosen by Aguilera, but instead her record label RCA and label executive Ron Fair. Aguilera herself had little control over the entire project, and a marketing strategy foresaw that Aguilera would have better success as a "teen idol" so in an effort to maintain her persona, music was chosen and recorded under the basis that she would become the next pop phenomenon.
The music video for "What a Girl Wants" was directed by Diane Martel, who had also directed the music video for her previous single "Genie in a Bottle." The video was choreographed by Tina Landon. Notably, the lighting in the video was more "defined" than the previous single's allowing a "clearer view" of Aguilera. The video's narrative, featuring protagonists Aguilera and model Paul Forgues, unwinds as a performance given by Aguilera to thank her lover. An opening shot shows men cycling and DJ-ing. Aguilera's troupe enters, moves the men towards the far-end of the room, and, after asking the men to cover their eyes, breaks into a tightly choreographed dance as Aguilera introduces the song's hook. Solo shots of Aguilera seated atop speakers punctuate the dance sequence. As the dance sequence in the first room ends, the camera moves over the ceiling of the venue and cuts to Aguilera dressed in medieval garb lying on a chaise longue whilst women dance around her with fans. After the bridge section finishes the video cuts back to the dancers in the first room and the video ends with a bird-eye-view shot of everyone in the room surrounding Aguilera and a male character who are intimately dancing. On December 16, 1999, the music video reached pole position on the music video chart, TRL. The video also received heavy rotation on January 11, 2000 on BET.
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