ho woulda thunk it? Pink, much like Vitamin C, seemed to have one interesting portion to her image. The music was capable, but the lyrics were bland rehashings of themes already covered many times over by artists that were far more established and entrenched as pop royalty. With this in mind, and her seemingly unfair lumping with all of these pop queens and kings, Pink set out to proof her authenticity to the world. And, to help her prove her authenticity she enlisted the lead singer from one hit wonder 4 Non Blondes, Linda Perry. The addition of stadium rock sized guitars, because she was once a punk you see, tied to the already produced hip hop inflected drums seemed like a recipe for disaster. I mean, it all seems rather improbable. And now all she has is a hit record.
It all starts with a mission statement: “Missundaztood”. Much like Christina Aguilera’s “Stripped”, the song sets forth the proposition that Pink has been misunderstood from the get go. But, in contrast to Christina, it’s one hundred times more subtle and enjoyable. The beat bounces along with Pink goofily ending the song with “uhhs” that eventually remind her of “an Exlax commercial”. It’s a simple conceit, but it sets the tone for a much more happy girl than Christina seems to be. But, the fact that this is only one of the many emotions explored on the record makes it a much greater success.
The next three songs are the troika of singles: “Don’t Let Me Get Me”, “Pills”, and “Let’s Get This Party Started”. The three songs get consistently better up until the near perfection of “Party”. The melding of guitars into the hip hop framework is a problematic one and seems, at best, a bit forced into the equation on “Don’t Let Me Get Me”. The melody would probably sound a bit more realized on a different instrument. The guitars on “Pills”, however, sound much more integrated into the work and the overall song works far better.
Past this, the record features a mélange of different emotions and styles. “Respect” is a female empowerment anthem that has become almost token on any record by a female pop artist. It keeps up the same sort of energy of “Let’s Get This Party Started” but ultimately is forgettable. It’s “18 Wheeler” that is the next highlight of the album, however, in its subtle integration of rock instrumentation and a canned beat that works surprisingly well. It’s, in fact, a far finer example of empowerment for women than the previous track which bounces along an empty feeling of the vacuousness that sometimes accompanies exhortations on the dance floor.
The last half of the record goes even further into self reflection and Pink emerges as a conflicted and deeply troubled artist that is unafraid to confront her demons. “Family Portrait”, “Dear Diary”, and “My Vietnam” are actually probably the most powerfully emotional pop songs to have been put to tape in a long while and add an air of authenticity to the proceedings that seemingly evades a large portion of pop albums.
In fact, the old bugaboo of pop music has been, for the most part, conquered here. Pink has fought the record companies for control of her career and won- and with the sage advice of producers and executives she has come out with one of the best pop albums of last year.