Friday, July 11, 2014

Learning to Love Pink

I used to hate Pink. When I was in Year 9, my RE teacher (for reasons unknown) made the whole class listen to Family Portrait, and even at the relatively un-discerning age of 13, I found it to be really, really bad.

"Your pain is painful"

On that day, I decided that Pink was a musical abomination, not worthy of my ears (I was kind of an elitist back then). Never mind that she had three entire albums at that point in time - I had heard one song, and that was enough for me to dimiss her entire output, past and future.

I distinctly remember smirking to myself and muttering "What a shame!" when I'm Not Dead was released in 2006.

Fast-forward about seven or eight years. I was at Sarah's house one evening, and she was flicking through the music channels. She eventually settled on one of the MTVs, which was doing a countdown of Pink's 'Top 25 Singles' (or something to that effect).

I protested - please not Pink! - but Sarah insisted; Pink was one of her favourite artists back in the day, and she was presumably in the mood for a bit of early noughties nostalgia.

And so we watched all of Pink's music videos, one after the other, for a good couple of hours. I was surprised to discover that Pink was the person behind So What and Get the Party Started - songs that I actually kind of liked - but I was even more surprised to discover that Pink, one of my all-time most hated artists, could product something like Please Don't Leave Me:

I love this song for so many reasons. The plain emotion of the chorus, the multi-layered vocal parts, the faintly post-punky guitar's just fantastic. And it completely changed my perception of Pink (albeit not to the point where I'm prepared to spell her name with an exclamation mark).

Pretty soon after that fateful night at Sarah's house, I visited That's Entertainment! in search of dirt-cheap Pink CDs. I had enjoyed quite a few of those 25 songs, and almost all of my favourites (including Please Don't Leave Me) were from the Funhouse album, and so that's the one I bought.

And you know what? Funhouse is a really, really good listen. It's a concept album about Pink's separation from her motorcycle-racing husband, and it does a really good job of capturing the multipolar emotional state that breaking up brings with it. Compare the bouncy, am-I-bovvered brashness of So What...

This song was #1 in that Top 25 list, in case you were wondering.

...with the exceptionally vulnerable I Don't Believe You...

...and then be amazed, because those are just two of this album's many emotional settings. Sometimes, Pink seems convinced that she's better off without her other half (It's All Your Fault); sometimes, she's apologising and begging to be taken back (Please Don't Leave Me). Sometimes she's boozing and partying and forgetting all about it (Bad Influence, Sober); sometimes, she's reflective and rueful (Mean, Crystal Ball).

There's even one track where she sounds a bit like Muse:

So if you thought pop stars couldn't do concept albums, think again. And if you abhor Pink like I once did...give Funhouse a go. You may well be surprised.

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