This was the song that broke Christina Aguilera into the big time. She spent two seasons on The Mickey Mouse Club (1993-1994), which turned out to be quite an incubator for talent: Her co-stars included Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Britney Spears. Her acting and dancing didn't set her apart, but her singing did. She recorded a single in 1998 called "Reflection," which was from the Disney film Mulan, and she got a record deal with RCA a short time after. Spears was already tearing up the charts with her first album, ...Baby One More Time, which Aguilera recorded her debut, so RCA spared no expense, pairing her with top talent and giving her a huge promotional push. "Genie In A Bottle," which shows off her impressive vocal range, was the first single from the album. It rose to the top spot in the US in July 1999, six months after Spears topped the chart with the title track to her album. Aguilera's next single, "What a Girl Wants," also went to #1.
This song was written by Pam Sheyne, Steve Kipner and David Frank. UK based and New Zealand-born songwriter Pam Sheyne is a former backing singer for The Pet Shop Boys and Celine Dion, who began writing songs in the mid-'90s. Steve Kipner wrote "Physical" for Olivia Newton-John and "Hard Habit To Break" for Chicago. David Frank wrote "You Are in My System" for Robert Palmer.
The genie in a bottle legend has it that if you find a mysterious bottle and rub it, a genie will appear to grant you three wishes. This song uses the tale as a sexually charged metaphor, implying that the girl will respond to the proper touch.
This song caused some controversy when it was released, as the 18-year-old Aguilera was quite young to be singing such a racy song, particularly as her music was marketed to young girls. Aguilera explains in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "It is a bit suggestive, but in a positive way. It's all about a girl who's a little sassy and likes to play hard to get, but equally wants sincerity in a relationship." The lyric, "My body's saying let's go, but my heart is saying no" emphasizes her point.
This was the biggest selling single in the US in 1999, and also Aguilera's best seller in the UK, selling 608,100 copies.
The video was directed by Diane Martel, who had done a lot of rap videos as well as several for Mariah Carey. It's set on the beach, but there is no bottle - just a lot of ridiculously attractive young people who break out into spontaneous dance numbers.