It's 2013's most unexpected comeback.
Christina Aguilera has climbed to the top of the digital music charts with a No. 1 hit, the poignant piano ballad, Say Something, recorded with up-and-coming New York duo A Great Big World, whose debut record, Is There Anybody Out There?, isn't due until Jan. 14.
Here are five ways the 32-year-old big-voiced belter -- also known as Xtina -- found her way back from the pop music wilderness after a disappointing 2012 that included a new album, Lotus, that was her worst-selling ever; a questionable white trash-themed video for the single, Your Body, featuring lots of hair extensions, too much make-up, amid sets featuring a trailer and a pool hall; and a unbecoming performance of At Last at Etta James' funeral during which she showed off both her cleavage and a running spray tan.
1. Return to a hit TV show:
After taking a year off last year as a judge on TV's top-rated music talent contest, The Voice, to "concentrate on her singing career," she's returned to the rotating big red chair in its fifth season. The position gives her a respectable profile.
2. Chose a great song to record:
After hearing Say Something on the So You Think You Can Dance finale, Aguilera was so moved she called A Great Big World - consisting of singer/songwriters Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino - and asked if she could record it with them and make a big budget if tasteful video too. Their performance together premiered on The Voice and immediately shot to the top of the digital charts in the U.S., and No. 3 in Canada.
3. Perform the aforementioned song in an understated way on the American Music Awards:
Between Katy Perry's geisha opening and Miley Cyrus' space kitten closing, was the uncharacteristically stripped down performance of Say Something with Aguilera in a demure black gown leaning against a piano played by Axel and not relying on over the top vocal runs to get people's attention. Quite the opposite in fact. They got a standing ovation for their simple, beautiful-sounding efforts and the next day the song went back up to the top of the iTunes chart.
It's shallow, but everyone was talking on the 2013 AMA's red carpet about the fact that XTina was back in fighting form. Always a yo-yo dieter, she's never looked - or sounded - better in recent years.
5. Make a well-intentioned (and timed) appearance on Jay Leno:
She recently appeared on Leno on U.S. Thanksgiving in front of an audience of service men and women, wearing shorts, a military hat and heels to perform her old song Candyman. Leno described her performance as "a tribute to our military troops." It also kept the momentum of Say Something's success going.