Release Year: 2006
Pink is known as music’s bad girl. Though the image wasn’t exactly there on her R&B tinged debut, it quickly became clear with her subsequent releases. She’s never been shy to open up about her troubled upbringing as she did on her second album, but this one takes it to a new level. Dealing with sensitive subjects like sexual abuse and loss, this has to be her most emotional and just plain sad album in her catalog.
Things start off on a playful note with the witty and cynical “Stupid Girls.” When it was released, the media was filled with the latest exploits of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie. Pink feared they would become new role models for girls and decided to call them out by questioning “What happened to the dreams of a girl president?” She remain unapologetic as she proclaims “I don’t wanna be a stupid girl.” It’s both funny and poignant with its message of supporting strong, smart women for girls to model themselves after. But after this point things take a more mellow, subdued tone.
Suddenly, we’re hit with a bunch of slower, somber songs one after another. “Who Knew” has a strong vocal performance from the singer as she laments about losing someone to a drug overdose. Though the music is kind of bright, upbeat, and sounds nice in general, it’s actually a heartbreaking track once you digest the lyrics. “Long Way to Happy” directly addresses the sexual abuse Pink experienced when she was 13 and says how it affects looking for love along with other assets of her life. “Dear Mr. President” is a half-hearted attempt at addressing everything wrong with the world. Written to the president at the time George Bush, the song is sappy and tries way too hard to tug at your heartstrings. Rather than being deep and thoughtful, it’s full of cliches and is pretty boring. “Nobody Knows” on the other hand, is a somber piano ballad that’s a little too slow for my taste. There is a great breakdown where Pink sings with so much fervor it sounds like she’s taking the listener to church.
The mood finally picks up slightly with the pop/rock oriented title track. Addressing how difficult change can be, it’s heavier in sound than the other tracks and will still get people out of their seats. It’s not the best song on the LP, but it’s a much needed breather after being hit with so many emotional tunes. Pink gets silly again for “Cuz I Can” where she brags about her money and how much of a bad ass she is. It’s actually one of the catchier and more fun songs from the album with its upbeat dance flavor. She even throws a reference to her old song “U Make Me Sick” with the opening line “I’m so so sick/can’t handle it.” But the best track by far is the sassy “U + Ur Hand” where she bluntly tells a guy to fuck off and let her have a good time. This is classic Pink all the way: spunky attitude, rock guitars, a great hook, and witty lyrics.
But if you thought you were finally free of the depressing songs, Pink pulls you back in with the last four tracks. None of them are outright bad, but after an entire album of serious topics, slow melodies, and sappy music, you’re ready for a little sunshine. Even the one track that sounds like it would be upbeat “I Got Money Now” is actually a cautious tale about money not being able to buy happiness no matter how much you have. The closing track “Conversations With my 13 Year Old Self” is the weakest on the album mainly because the string music is overblown and too dramatic. Crashes, crescendos, and swelling orchestras are all cues to let the listener know this is supposed to be a tear jerker, but it’s easy to see through. It’s just way too much for the track, not to mention a depressing way to end the album.
Pink has never shied away from serious topics like heartbreak, abuse, and loss, but she pulls out all the stops for this album. There are a couple of upbeat tracks that are classic Pink all the way: snotty, full of attitude, witty lyrics, and catchy as hell. But most of the tracks make you want to curl up in the corner and rock yourself to feel better. This is like her Sea Change and at times it’s too much. One sappy, slow, sad song after the other gets too tiring especially if you’re not feeling particularly melancholy. The songs are not terrible, but they may be what you’re looking for when you grab a Pink album.