Pink’s latest is her first as a spouse and mother, but her head is still shaved.
I first heard of Pink over ten years ago when “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” was on repeat on whatever radio station my school bus played. Everyone seemed to be all shaken up about the badass and negative lyrics that were at the time unheard of from the likes of Britney and Christina. Pink had bigger issues than a broken heart (is that possible?) and she let us know —“Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears.” That name drop was controversial but she just kept rolling her eyes.
On TV she was abrasive and mean. At the Kids’ Choice Awards, an acceptance speech unabashedly told the world she was disgusted to be receiving the award. It was laughed off, but she wasn’t joking. As with so many young, talented, female artists, no one was talking about her talent and no one seemed to feel the punch in the gut by the coupling of her strong voice and lyrics. Today, she’s 33, married, and has a beautiful 16-month-old daughter. She grew up some over the past decade, but her music is more than ever a venue for that anger. Now, however, she’s mature enough to sing The Truth About Love.
I imagine it would be difficult to raise a child, be a spouse, and have a career like Pink’s, especially when the reality hits that marriage isn’t easy. On her show, Ellen mentioned that Pink was happily married before being corrected: “I’m married.” And that’s the first conclusion we can draw from this album. It’s mature, serious, and tremendous because Pink is — she can blow you away without even trying.
My album on iTunes is heavily marked by EXPLICIT warnings. But isn’t that only appropriate? Few true Pink fans would be disappointed here. There are the aural-assaulting rock numbers everyone is used to, so natural it sounds as if she wakes up in the morning screaming with a microphone in her fist. That’s how the album warms up, the first three tracks being “Are We All We Are,” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” and “Try.” Later on, “Slut Like You” serves many purposes but is a heavy-hitter like the aforementioned three.
“How Come You’re Not Here” and “Walk of Shame,” though both equally worthy, do not pack in the same punch as the previous three. These rock numbers are what Pink is best at delivering, and they are really a treat. She also treads new territory, though, with the album’s three duets.
A power ballad about a couple falling out of love, “Just Give Me a Reason” features Nate Ruess, the newly emerging lead singer of the band Fun. I might get in trouble by pointing out the distinct Freddie Mercury ghostliness of his voice, but really, that can only be a good thing. I’m not sure that anyone else could have pulled off what he and Pink have done here. It’s shockingly beautiful.
The second duet, “True Love,” with Lily Rose Cooper, would otherwise go unmentioned, but it is interesting to note that Pink could have done it by herself. For some reason, her heart isn’t in this one. However, the third, “Here Comes the Weekend,” with Eminem of all people, is intriguing. It’s big and impossible to keep your head still to, and the rock beat continues while Em raps on and on. His whiny singing voice would have served better here, but his rapping is acceptable.
If you weren’t paying attention before, now it’s time. The Truth About Love’s uncharacteristically slow songs are very personal, significant, and important. “Beam Me Up,” “Where Did the Beat Go?” “The Great Escape,” and “Chaos & Piss” illustrate the life of a real woman with more than just petty problems to sing about. With such raw power behind her voice normally, here, there’s a small window of vulnerability. Maybe she hasn’t come to the solution yet; maybe there are problems that have yet to be solved, but her stories need to be told. In the end, though, the message is optimistic. It’s comforting to know we aren’t alone. To quote an earlier chapter of her life, never feel less than “f’in perfect.” In her own lyrics, “How do I feel this good sober?”
So with some classic Pink, grown-up Pink, mature and immature Pink, what’s the consensus at the end of the 58 minutes of The Truth About Love? Some might complain about the lack of coherent style, but in something so personal, how can life be boiled down to just a continuous thread? There are many problems, many worries, many of which are contradictory. Rolling Stone sniffed at Pink’s “pepper[ing her album] with gratuitous curse words,” but I don’t know why they had grandpa reviewing a modern album. At any rate, even comments about her continued “bad girl” status are made by those who had her “m!ssundaztood”, are who are still uncomfortable with a woman who refuses to play victim to tragic love. Hence, “Slut Like You.”
This is not a simple woman, and her music isn’t either. The initial negative critical reactions are exactly what they were then years ago, but only in that sense has her music remained unchanged. Her life has moved into a new era with her husband Cary and daughter Willow, but that doesn’t mean everything’s okay. Love’s complicated, but luckily, everyone can enjoy this album regardless of where we stand in our own lives. Those Britney comparisons she’s so damn tired of have finally turned in her favor. The Truth About Love is on iTunes for $10.99 and is worth every penny.
Travis Hallett ’14 (travishallett@college) also wants to let you know that the Truth About Love Tour comes to the TD Garden on March 28.