Released: 30th October 2000
Writers: Johan Aberg / Paul Rein / Shelly Peiken / Ron Fair / Chaka Blackmon / Ray Cham / Eric Dawkins / Christina Aguilera / Guy Roche
Peak position: #8
Chart run: 8-14-25-32-41-53-69-X-65
Billboard Hot 100 chart run: 57-47-45-29-23-18-11-9-9-11-1-1-1-1-4-8-12-22-23-43-44
Drawing her debut album campaign to a close, Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) is – for better or for worse – the perfect summation of Christina Aguilera as a pop artist.
With her third single I Turn To You having underperformed, Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)’s release was one typical of the late ‘90s/early ‘00s approach in that it was completely reworked from the version that appeared on the Christina Aguilera album. But this was much more than a quick nip and tuck, which is where things get really interesting. So significant were the revisions that the song added an extra word into its title – the original was Come On Over (All I Want Is You) – and most notably an additional seven songwriters, including Christina Aguilera herself. As the first single that she’d had a hand in composing, this track became a telling indicator of the direction in which she was looking to push her image.
On first impressions, Come On Over (All I Want Is You) is standard bubblegum pop fare. But listen more closely, and something is a bit off. Everything feels a bit out of sync; the beat doesn’t quite match the timing of the vocals, and the delivery seems – at times – almost ad-libbed. If you’re at all familiar with the album version, then the difference is striking. With the gap between the phrasing of the first verse: “Hey boy don’t you know, I got something going on…” and “… I’ve got an invitation, don’t you keep me waiting all night long”, it’s as if somehow despite the additional writers, there are now fewer words to sing, with the empty space instead reserved for a series of vocal riffs. Yet, this feels entirely deliberate, as if the track has been re-constructed in an attempt by Christina Aguilera to defy convention from the carefully placed performances of her peers and show off her voice.
And it doesn’t stop there. For Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) also positions itself as a track that wants to talk directly – if not explicitly – about sex. Spending the night together was something that many songs of the time alluded to, but it was generally referred to in non-specific terms, ensuring the genre stayed as family-friendly and mass-market as it possibly could. Christina Aguilera, however, seizes the opportunity to be a little more direct: “I’m not just talking about your sexuality, but I can’t help myself, when you put your hands on me”. During the latter rap (and we use that term very loosely) sections, there’s little dispute as to what she’s proposing: “Don’t you wanna be the one tonight, we could do exactly what you like; don’t you wanna be just you and me, we could do what comes so naturally”. In hindsight, while Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) has little in common with Stripped from a musical perspective, thematically it sits closer to that album than anyone might have cared to admit.
Yet, deviation isn’t always the best thing for the song. While it’s great that Christina Aguilera was allowed the opportunity to indulge on the vocals, Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) is undoubtedly at its strongest when it sticks more closely to the melody. The pre-chorus: “Don’t wanna play that game with you baby, listen to me…” into the chorus itself: “All I want is you, come over here baby, all I want is you, you know you make me go crazy” anchors the scattershot approach to the track with a structure and some solid hooks. After all, there had to be something worth salvaging from the original version, otherwise what was the point in picking it as a single at all?
Easily the most notable revision to Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) is the one that makes full use of Christina Aguilera’s talent. That she had an incredible voice was no secret, so the big moment of the new mid-section – and indeed the song as a whole – is a shamelessly brilliant exercise in showboating. With a self-referential nod to her previous single, she tears the track to shreds: “You give me what a girl feels, what a girl likes, what a girl needs, what a girl WA-AH-AH-OH-WOAH-WOAH-WANTS…”, before kicking back into the chorus with a punchy: “All…I…all I want is you-WOAH-WOAH-BABY”. You’ve really got to hand it to Christina Aguilera, for if her goal was to use Come On Over (All I Want Is You) as an opportunity to bellow for four minutes, then she pretty much gets away with it. It’s loud, it’s overblown, it’s ridiculous…and it’s basically an extreme version of everything that so typified this era of pop music.
Despite Come On Over (All I Want Is You) refusing to play by the rules, the music video contains – conversely – one of the most bubblegum pop aesthetics you could ever hope to see. It’s clear that the commercial dip (if you can even call it that in America) of I Turn To You prompted Christina Aguilera’s record label to make a statement here, and it could hardly be bigger. There is so much going on in this video; it’s an explosion of everything that was archetypal of the era, and therefore, one of the most turn-of-the-century things you could hope to see. We open on Christina Aguilera in a bedroom (lime-green) talking on a telephone (cordless), before the camera zooms through the stereo. There are so many looks here; the solo shots of Christina – with red-tipped hair, of course – standing in front of billowing sheets of material; group choreography with colourful, block-patterned outfits; a yellow/orange/green setup where the dancers are holding silver balls (Christina’s crimped hair is a win here) – and that still doesn’t cover it. Every few seconds seems to bring a shift in style and staging.
Even so, the video still manages to nail some memorable set-pieces that really stand out. The unzipping of the yellow bodysuit felt decidedly risqué; there was never any risk of nudity – indeed, lying underneath is a transition shot to the next dance sequence – but it was bold for a teen pop star to even tease full-frontal exposure. The silhouette box routine is incredibly stylish, as is the end section, where Christina Aguilera descends a huge staircase before confetti rains down from the ceiling. And what pop video would be complete without a carefully choreographed mosaic formation as the dancers raise hexagon pieces in the air to collectively form an image of Christina Aguilera’s face? Except…they don’t quite line up, so it looks like she has a moustache. For a visual that is otherwise meticulously executed, was that really the best shot they could get?
In terms of its commercial performance, Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) further broadened the gap between Christina Aguilera’s success in America and the UK. Over here, the track was an improvement on the #19 peak of I Turn To You; it returned her to the top ten, reaching #8. But for what was very much a considerable pop package, it still felt that Christina Aguilera was drifting into Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore territory, rather than reclaiming the chart-topping potential with which she’d made her debut. That trend was seen similarly throughout Europe, as the single made a minor splash, but ultimately came and went with little lasting impact.
It may come as a surprise then to learn that in America, Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) was a much bigger hit. It became Christina Aguilera’s third #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks atop the chart. This was, in part, a reflection of the strategy that her record label adopted for the Christina Aguilera album. While Jive Records had sacrificed higher peaks for Britney Spears’ early hits to galvanize sales of …Baby One More Time, RCA continued to release Christina Aguilera’s commercially, allowing her to become a prominent singles act. Her debut album, by comparison, sold about 10 million copies, compared to Britney’s 14 million.
It was already becoming clear from Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) that Christina Aguilera was attempting to subvert the squeaky-clean image she’d been branded with. But we wouldn’t find out quite how far she’d push the boundaries for another two years. In the meantime, however, she kept herself busy with a Spanish-language album (which includes a version of this same song), a Christmas album and some notable collaborations.