I’m Not Dead
sn’t it ironic, don’t you think, that as Pink gets smarter, she also gets stupider? Long gone are parties getting started and God pulling sex dreams out of his record bag. Now we’re a “Long Way to Happy” and writing letters to the President with the Indigo Girls. It’s hardly a surprise that I’m Not Dead is stiffing at the box office—bar the forgettable “Stupid Girls,” the top half of the album is stuffed to the gills with dry Pat Benatar rips and unexciting ballads, capped by the plodding title track that sounds much longer than the 3:46 it clocks in at.
The notables on that first half are, of course, “Stupid Girls,” a satire withered and lifeless at any age—even when accompanied by operatic background vocals and a bouncy acoustic, and “Dear Mr. President,” a letter that could be written to any sitting commander-in-chief (excepting a brave reference to GDub’s cocaine usage). In it, the usually reliable Indigo Girls provide snappy guitar and harmonies. Reduced to mirrored vocals, they’re sadly underutilized. The rest in the seven-song run is typified by second single “Who Knew,” one of three tracks co-written by Max Martin. It’s “Since U Been Gone” spinning its wheels at half-speed, mutedly wondering where the tune went.
After the trudge of the album’s first half, though, we come across Martin’s second contribution, the stomping and destructive “Cuz I Can.” It’s an anthemic plodder that could slip nicely into the schaffel groove of “Rock ‘n Roll Pt. 2” given the chance in a DJ set and is the beginning of a great three-song stretch. It’s followed by the ode to schizophrenia, “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely),” which may rely too much on the chorus, but at little over three minutes, it’s hardly a bother. Especially when she’s dropping f-bombs left and right. “U & Ur Hand” is similarly fast-paced, playing out the “Leave Me Alone” character to its fullest over a ramshackle hip-hop beat and overdriven chorus.
After this powerful troika almost anything would sound good, which is probably why “Runaway” and “The One That Got Away” please. But it’s clear that Pink’s just biding time until she can tell you that she’s got money now, claiming that “There is no heartache if you can afford / Everything delivered right to your door.” Isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?
Is Pink the sound of settling? If “I’ve Got Money” and “Stupid Girls” are the best we can do for clever in the realm of pop these days, there should be no congratulation—only despair. Sure, Pink’s a lot smarter these days, but I’d trade the confused and confident, frightened and self-assured, and sometimes altogether stupid M!ssundaztood for I’m Not Dead any day.