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Pink – [Album]

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Saturday, 25 October 2008

A couple of years ago, Alecia “Pink” Moore decided that she’d had about all she could take of being a pre-groomed, prefabricated pop tart presented the same way as all the others of that ilk – including Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the rest of the horde – were presented: as easily consumed and disposable chattle. So she hamstrung herself on purpose with the Tim Armstrong co-written Try This and tripped so hard that her label backed off a little – and didn’t she run and make good on that freedom. At that point, Zomba got a clue and remained backed off; it was apparent that, left to her own devices, the not-so-perfect pop star could do just fine without the interference.

And she kept running; improving every step of the way. She’s made mistakes of course, rather than try to ignore them or buy them off as so many other pop stars (and those same labels) are prone to doing, Pink checks each one off and owns up to them on Funhouse.

From drugs to alcohol to lousy men to self-image concerns to her very public mistakes with each of those things, Pink tells all plainly and puts the tabloids to shame beginning in the opening seconds of the tellingly entitled and standoffish “So What.” The song is, without a doubt, the most deserving of single status on the album as it calls out Jessica Simpson as well as her ex-husband before just as easily walking out and moving on in the best possible, most unapologetic way: with a smile and a finger.

From there, Pink ruminates on the vicissitudes of being a menace to sobriety (“Sober”), falling out of love (“I Don’t Believe You,” “Please Don’t Leave Me” and the title track), the pressure of the major label pop-tart star system (“One Foot Wrong”) as well as the dangers inherent in subscribing to it (“Bad Influence”). At no point does the singer make any mistake about the fact that, yes, she did fall prey to “rock stardom” and, as critical as she is of herself for it, at no point does she play the pity party card and she never drops her chin during the album’s runtime either – she’s learned from her mistakes.

…And she has learned those lessons well. As the album progresses, listeners can chart Pink’s course out of the pop paradigm and into undiscovered countries for her. “Mean” is an able stab at chicken fried country rock that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kid Rock or Sheryl Crow album while “Ave Mary A” is Pink’s first try at an arena rocker that also looks at current events and sees nothing but a world gone mad. As the album draws to a close Pink also closes the book on pop stardom with just a piano to back her up. She looks forward with her head up and a bittersweet smile to an uncertain future (as statements of intent go, it doesn’t get much more plain than “Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, ‘I just don’t care?’”) and, in that moment, it becomes obvious to anyone listening that this will be the last pop outing for Pink. Whatever comes next will be a very different offering and with that view in mind, Funhouse becomes an all-the-more-gratifying listen; there’s no where left to go, Pink has done more than imply that she’s growing up here. How will she do it? Pink’s next album will be a leap of faith worth waiting for.

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