"Lift Me Up" is a song by American singer-songwriter Christina Aguilera, taken from her sixth studio album Bionic (2010). The song was written and produced by Linda Perry, who also provided all the song's instrumentation. Perry and Aguilera previously collaborated on Aguilera's records Stripped (2002) and Back to Basics (2006), and on her compilation Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits (2008), and the singer enlisted Perry again to work on Bionic as the main producer. However, Perry only wrote and produced "Lift Me Up".
Described as an empowering piano ballad, "Lift Me Up" talks about being thankful to someone for helping the protagonist through hard times. The song was first premiered during the Hope for Haiti Now telethon that was held on January 22, 2010 and later, it was included on the charity album, Hope for Haiti Now. The live version differs from the album version, since it features a more stripped, acoustic sound and the album version has an electronic addition.
"Lift Me Up" received polarized reviews from music critics. While some critics praised the song, calling it serviceable and obligatory, many called it a boring and cliché ballad. The live version of the song charted on the low-regions of the UK Singles Chart and on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, while the album version charted higher on the South Korea Gaon International Singles Chart.
Christina Aguilera and Linda Perry first collaborated on Aguilera's sophomore studio album, Stripped (2002), spawning one of her signature songs, "Beautiful", and later on Aguilera's retro-inspired album Back to Basics (2006), working entirely on its second disc, including the second and third single, "Hurt" and "Candyman". The pair also worked on Aguilera's new tracks from her compilation "Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits" (2008), including its lead-single, and during an interview for Billboard, she announced Perry as her next project's main producer.
In January 2010, Aguilera premiered a piano-version of the song during the Hope for Haiti Now telethon along with Perry on the piano. While commenting on the song, Aguilera talked about working with Perry once more, stating, "'Lift Me Up' was a song that I teamed once again with Linda Perry, she's always on my 'go-to' list, she's just an amazing artist herself and songwriter, we just make magic together. She and I collaborated on 'Lift Me Up', she had written the song, as well as having written 'Beautiful' years ago, took a first listen and I knew I have to interpret this song."
"Lift Me Up" was written and produced by Linda Perry. Perry was also responsible for providing piano, percussion, bass, programming, guitar and keyboards, while Andrew Chavez served as the right hand man and Pro Tools engineer. The song also features drums, violin, strings, viola, cello and contrabass as instruments. Recorded at the Kung Fu Gardens, The Red Lips Room, and mixed at the Larrabee Studios, "Lift Me Up" is written in the key of E major, having a "gentle" tempo of 74 beats per minute. Aguilera's vocal range span from G♯3 to E5.
"Lift Me Up" is an inspirational piano ballad, where Aguilera thanks a loved one for helping her through hard times. In the chorus, she sings: "When you see me crashing and there's nowhere left to fall, will you life me [even] higher?". According to Aguilera, while discussing some songs on Bionic on the album's "Track-by-Track" commentary, the song is a "light at the end of the tunnel, asking for a little lift, a little guidance, a little help, if you [are] feeling a little down or distressed, and I knew it was a song that would be relatable to a lot of people."
Music critics were divided with the song; with some praising Aguilera delivery, but others criticized the song's thematic. Margaret Wappler of Los Angeles Times described the song as "an 'American Idol'-ready ballad [and] a classic demonstration of the singer's range from tender to throaty," while Mesfin Fekadu of Boston Globe noted that Aguilera "wins you over on the Linda Perry-assisted track." Dan Martin of NME called it "serviceable and obligatory", while Allison Stewart from The Washington Post recalled it as "obligatory but still goose-bump-raising inspirational ballad." In a positive review, Bradley Stern of MuuMuse named it a "gorgeous Linda Perry-penned ballad", noting that the song could be "the next best candidate to follow Aguilera's already established classics, 'Beautiful and 'Hurt'." While noting that the song is "a cliche-ridden [ballad]", Thomas Conner of Chicago Sun Times added that the song is "mighty and inspirational [and] could go into the ring right now with the biggest Celine Dion contenders and come to a draw."
In a less favorable review, a writer from the UK newspaper Scotsman wrote that the song is a "feeble, pedestrian [...] standard issue ballad Linda Perry found while scraping her songwriting barrel," while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian calling it a "patented self-help ballad." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic simply called it a "boring inspirational song", with Rolling Stone's writer Rob Sheffield agreeing, calling it an "inevitable Linda Perry snoozer." For Jon Pareles of The New York Times the song "tries to invoke 'Imagine' but falls short," with Michael Cragg of MusicOMH also adding that "Perry contribute in a typically cloying and cliché-ridden ballad." Nick Levine of Digital Spy named the song an "odd dull" moment on the album, calling the song "drippy", Chris DeLine of Culture Bully felt that the song's "sentimentality weighs the track down." and Craig Mathieson of The Sydney Morning Herald criticized Aguilera for "stroll[ing] through a generic ballad of struggle and fulfilment."
Omar Kholeif of PopMatters was negative with the song, citing it as "one of those shallow, vomit-inducing laments barely good enough to pass for a winning song on an American Idol finale [...] [and] no better than a retro Aguilera B-side like 'Too Beautiful for Words' or an A-side like 'I Turn to You'." In a similar mode, Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune questioned: "[D]oes the world need another over-emoted power ballad like the Linda Perry-written and produced 'Lift Me Up'?". For Jordan Richardson of Blogcritics the song "feels like just about every other Xtina ballad except with smaller notes," however Mike Wass of Idolator observed that the song "[i]t’s not quite as anthemic as 'Beautiful' or as raw as 'Hurt,' but it’s a pretty ballad that puts the focus back where it should be: on Christina’s magnificent voice."
Aguilera performed a stripped-down version of "Lift Me Up" on the "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief telethon" that was held on January 22, 2010. Perry accompanied Aguilera playing piano during the performance. It was later included on the "Hope for Haiti Now album". The performance was praised by music critics. Jayson Rodriguez of MTV News wrote that "[t]he elegant singer belted out 'Lift Me Up' with vigor and a chilling vitality," while Luke Crampton from The Huffington Post praised Aguilera for "ha[ving] the courage to debut a new original song," calling her a "[s]upreme balladeer," noting that "with all her success she remains an underrated singer-songwriter." Crampton also noted that she gave an "[i]mpeccable delivery, but as a stand-alone composition, not within a mile of her glorious 2006 hit, 'Hurt'." Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch listed the 10 best numbers of the night and "Lift Me Up" was at number 6, noting that "her belt-tastic performance of her new ballad [...] was reminiscent of Whitney Houston in her prime."Recording locations
Recording – Kung Fu Gardens, North Hollywood, California
Vocal recording – The Red Lips Room, Beverly Hills, California.
Mixing – Larrabee Studios, Burbank, California.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Bionic, RCA Records.
Upon the release of the Hope for Haiti Now album, "Lift Me Up" debuted and peaked on the UK Singles Chart at number 183 in the chart issue February 6, 2010. It also debuted and peaked on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles at number 25. In South Korea, the album's version debuted at number 35 on the Gaon International Downloads Chart on the chart issue June 6, 2010.