As we approach a decade's distance from the peak of the teenpop boom, Christina Aguilera has emerged as one of the lasting talents, succeeding more on artistic merit than tabloid fodder. It's hardly even fair to keep bringing up her TRL-bred status at this point. She arrived at Nationwide Arena last night and proved her lasting power with a fine display of her assets: good song selection, a taste for glamor and, of course, her vocal cords.

Aguilera's current tour and album are billed as Back to Basics, and last night's show proved she wasn't kidding. The 90-minute show never deviated from standard arena pomp and circumstance, nor did the music stray from typical diva fare. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing-Aguilera's voice is perfectly suited for classic pop pageantry. When the show suffered was when she failed to use that throat of hers wisely.

Aguilera left the hooks to her background singers for the most part, choosing to burst into freestyle bursts of melody like a ringleader for the circus that was her stage show-nine-piece band, backup dancers, backup singers, countless props and costume changes. (For a while, the stage actually was set up as a circus, complete with trapeze, stilts and fire dancers.) These vocal spurts amounted to superfluously showing off her pipes when the songs demanded more emphasis on their winning melodies. Yet when the time came to truly flaunt her abilities, such as on the closing "Fighter," Aguilera transposed some of the climactic high notes down, a la Sting at the Grammys. Chalk the lack of focus up to fatigue from a night on stage and many nights on the road, but it's still frustrating.

As we approach a decade's distance from the peak of the teenpop boom, Christina Aguilera has emerged as one of the lasting talents, succeeding more on artistic merit than tabloid fodder. It's hardly even fair to keep bringing up her TRL-bred status at this point. She arrived at Nationwide Arena last night and proved her lasting power with a fine display of her assets: good song selection, a taste for glamor and, of course, her vocal cords.

Aguilera's current tour and album are billed as Back to Basics, and last night's show proved she wasn't kidding. The 90-minute show never deviated from standard arena pomp and circumstance, nor did the music stray from typical diva fare. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing—Aguilera's voice is perfectly suited for classic pop pageantry. When the show suffered was when she failed to use that throat of hers wisely.

Aguilera left the hooks to her background singers for the most part, choosing to burst into freestyle bursts of melody like a ringleader for the circus that was her stage show—nine-piece band, backup dancers, backup singers, countless props and costume changes. (For a while, the stage actually was set up as a circus, complete with trapeze, stilts and fire dancers.) These vocal spurts amounted to superfluously showing off her pipes when the songs demanded more emphasis on their winning melodies. Yet when the time came to truly flaunt her abilities, such as on the closing "Fighter," Aguilera transposed some of the climactic high notes down, a la Sting at the Grammys. Chalk the lack of focus up to fatigue from a night on stage and many nights on the road, but it's still frustrating.

One more gripe with an otherwise delightful night of pop: Aguilera's decision to convert some of her older hits, namely "Come On Over" and "What a Girl Wants," into "exotic" genre exercises instead of letting them be the great pop songs they were meant to be. The former was made into a salsa tune of sorts, while the latter got the island treatment. Had she performed both songs, especially "Come On Over," in their original format, they would have been highlights. Instead they were distractions.

Of course, this show was all about distractions. You don't care for the music? Watch the video screens or perhaps this dance routine. Maybe some pole dancing will suit your tastes? And how about a blast of confetti for good measure? All this visual stimulation could have gone even more over-the-top than it did—the relatively bare stage helped keep it in check—but there's no telling whether that excess would have been glorious or gratuitous. As it stood, the amount of glitz suited the music well. Aguilera's litany of hits—from the zippy "Ain't No Other Man" to the sappy "Beautiful"—deserved such treatment.

Pussycat Dolls and Danity Kane opened, and while I'm not that disappointed to report that I missed both acts, I must admit the burlesque/pop spectacle that is the Dolls had me curious. Sounds like it was something to behold.