Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Listen: Pink - "Raise Your Glass"

There are few artists currently working in the music industry that I admire more than Pink, as I've mentioned before along with the curious fact that despite my high opinion of her as a musician I don't especially care for a good percentage of the actual songs she's done, even while appreciating and enjoying the way she's done them. And since Pink is one of the few veteran acts whose healthy career has been marked or even defined by continuous adaptation and exploration of musical style, I am particularly looking forward to her first hits collection, Greatest Hits...So Far!!!, which she announced yesterday (the set lands November 16).

Of course, even a compilation album requires a lead single or two to promote the release, and the 31 year old unleashed the first of two new tracks to be included on the hefty track list, the giddily enjoyable girl-party anthem "Raise Your Glass." As may be obviously early on to those familiar with production at all, Pink's producer and co-writer on the track is Swedish pop legend Max Martin, who last year helped get Britney Spears' own hits collection lead single "3" to the top of the Hot 100 in its first week on the chart and who worked with Pink on her latest two albums, I'm Not Dead and Funhouse. Martin and erstwhile protegee/collaborator Dr. Luke (the latter more so) have lately been walking a thin line between success and overexposure, and, perhaps accordingly, churning out a high volume of work that on too many occasions has been too reminiscent of previous work done for other artists too recently to go by unnoticed. It's a shame, really, as Martin truly is one of the greatest producers of all time, and Dr. Luke one of the great hit-making engineers working right now, even if he lacks the musical sensibilities that set Martin apart; in any event, getting recycled tunes from those two is like Julia Child making you peanut butter and jelly.

But what typically makes Pink's collaborations with Martin work so well is, broadly speaking, their actually "collaborative" feel. Pink is an older, more experienced, and with a more fully developed persona as an artist than Martin's usual clients, who tend to be younger girl-pop-rock stars (he's produced for Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, and the first three of Britney Spears' albums) whose contributions to the track, while always a good deal beyond the anonymous vocal trend of dance and electronic music in terms of personality, were still only half of the magic (if that), sharing or overshadowed in glory by the greatness of the entire sound. Pink is not the kind of artist who takes a back seat when she's in the studio - she's demonstrated a unique and enjoyable expertise in the incidentals that often spice up her backing vocals with typically playful banter and musical asides, and "Raise Your Glass" is no exception. There's even a riotous moment just before the final chorus in which the singer channels the Mamas and the Papas by launching into the chorus a few bars early. "Ah, fuck," she says, before launching into the high-octane chorus for nearly a full minute of climactic, girl-rock bliss.

Sure, the song sounds a bit like Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" with a splash of "Since U Been Gone," (both written and the latter produced guessed it! Max Martin) but at no point is "Raise Your Glass" not clearly Pink's song. Where younger and less established singers can come off as either one-note party obsessives (Ke$ha) or posers (Avril Lavigne) when singing of boozing and merrymaking, Pink's relationship with the world of recreation has been a consistent theme in her music throughout her genre-jumping career, from Linda Perry's "Get the Party Started" to the rock-infused barfight style "U + Ur Hand" and "So What," to the disarmingly contrite "Sober" and the just as disarmingly hedonistic "Bad Influence," so when Pink sings about a party, you know she knows of what she speaks. (The only insincere moment on "Raise Your Glass," actually, is at the beginning of the bridge, where after a beat or two she muses, "Oh shit, my glass is empty. That SUCKS!" As if Pink would find such a situation the slightest bit concerning.)

 Seriously, is this not the cutest woman ever?

It's the first time Pink's party has been an actual celebration, too, which makes it all the more fun to come along: here there are no pervy drunk men, no exes starting fights, no kissing Benz drivers' asses, no football captains' angry mothers. Pink's not fighting anymore, she's inviting: she reaches out to "all my underdogs" and encourages them to be "dirty little freaks," a technique that's proven pretty effective for Lady Gaga, although they're not singing to entirely the same audience, I believe. Pink, like Robyn, has blossomed from an exciting and volatile 20-something into a strong, reliable 31-year-old who is still a ton of fun - like a big sister, perhaps, who seems to have everything under control and figured out with herself, which allows us to revert to carefree teenagers for a few minutes. We don't have to worry about Pink, be it in with her historically solid personal life, or her live performances (also like Robyn, Pink is a uniquely gifted live performer), or her next album(s) or singles - we know she'll come through. On "Raise Your Glass" Pink's fun-filled vocals and Max Martin's stellar if manipulative production team up like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: here are a pair of artists at the top of their field who have worked together to deliver a charming and enjoyable fall anthem, a worthy addition to Pink's already formidable list of great singles.

Confirmed Track List for Pink's Greatest Hits...So Far!!!
Don’t Let Me Get Me
Please Don’t Leave Me
*I Don’t Believe You

*Only on Deluxe Editions
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...