Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Fallon doing an undercover jam in a NYC subway station is definitely the crossover we didn’t know we needed. Aguilera brings the soul on Aretha Franklin’s catchy vamp “Freedom” during the energetic performance, while Fallon plays banjo and sings backup. They’re both in outlandish disguises, but I don’t think they fooled anyone since the second Aguilera started singing it was a giveaway.
As you’d expect Aguilera didn’t leave anything in the tank, and really put on a show despite performing in the mundane surroundings of the Rockefeller Center station. Fallon was also clearly having fun and put on some moves, doing a surprisingly good job as a musician for a casual. You can see the pair’s performance in the video below, which has gained 3.4 million views on YouTube.
After the pair and their backing band got a warm reception from their first song, Fallon bantered with the crowd while speaking with a hammy accent in the style of Jimi Hendrix, before they revealed their identities. The crowd were well and truly hyped by that point and the band launched into their second song, which was Aguilera’s hit “Fighter”.
Aguilera picked up the energy even more at this point while Fallon took up a cowbell and entertained the crowd. The whole performance got very wild as the crowd started singing along and Fallon jumped around like a madman. Clearly, he’s got a promising career as a hype man waiting for him if the Tonight Show ever packs it in. The big man and Aguilera have worked together before, with the pair doing a series of memorable musical impressions on his show, which you can see below.
Fans at home enjoyed the wacky hijinks of the subway performance, adding comments such as “She has so much soul in her voice it’s hypnotizing and unmistakable!” and “As soon as she opened her mouth she could not fool me. Her voice is one of the most unique of this era.”
It comes as no surprise to see Aguilera pick Aretha Franklin’s “Freedom” for the set, as she’s made no secret of the influence that the Queen of Soul had on her as an artist. Aguilera sang Franklin’s 1968 hit “Ain’t No Way” at the Grammy Awards tribute to Franklin in 2011, which went down a treat with fans. Aguilera has also covered both Franklin songs at other gigs as well.
“Fighter” is also a natural choice for the subway gig, as the rock and R&B crossover is perfect for getting the crowd moving. This makes sense as after all the pop star was inspired to write it after listening to Guns N’ Roses.
“Fighter” dropped as the third single from Aguilera’s 2002 studio album Stripped, and the single went 2x Platinum in the US as well as charting in the top 10 in numerous countries around the world. It has remained one of her most popular songs and is currently her ninth most streamed track on Spotify with 195 million streams.