Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pink - "Fuckin' Perfect" (Single Review)

Pop rock icon Pink is, among many other things, a bit of a conundrum, for critic and consumer alike. Take her discography, for starters: the singer, nee Alecia Moore, first broke onto the scene in 2000, amid the highest point of the teen pop boom when artists such as Britney Spears were racking up five-figure weekly sales numbers, with the defiantly (and, particularly in hindsight, moderately unconvincing) R&B-oriented Can't Take Me Home, which sold an impressive two million copies but was easily overshadowed by the eleven million, ten million and eight million figures of N*SYNC, Spears, and the Backstreet Boys, respectively. Then Pink unleashed her groundbreaking sophomore hit Missundaztood, a showcase for the singer's now familiar but then unexpected blend of pop, rock, and hip-hop that went five times platinum in the U.S. and has sold over twelve million copies worldwide.


But far fewer were willing to give Pink's third album, Try This, a whirl: though critics raved about the hard rock-leaning set, it sold just 700,000 units in the U.S. in 2003. Still, Pink has never been one for giving up nor for subtlety, and her fourth studio album I'm Not Dead successfully brought the singer back into mainstream acceptance, selling over six million copies just as album sales began to crash. Likewise, her most recent album, Funhouse, has been certified platinum with over one million copies sold in the U.S. and five singles cracking the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100.

On November 16 Pink is set to release her first hits collection, Greatest Hits... So Far!!! The set will contain sixteen of the pop rocker's best-charting singles from "There You Go" to "Stupid Girls" to "Glitter in the Air," along with (as is the fashion) three entirely new tracks, including current top ten hit "Raise Your Glass." The track list promises GH...SF!!! to be a rollicking and bumpy ride through Pink's uneven discography, but a full-length listen-through is sure to prove not just how broad and varying her output has been over the last decade, but how incredibly skilled and convincing she is throughout the myriad styles and genres in which she has dabbled.


This generic leapfrogging may mean that for even the biggest Pink fans likely have trouble, as I have, appreciating all of her dozen-plus hits on the same level, but one could argue that this makes Pink's upcoming collection more an intriguing listen as an album/playlist than recent compilations from Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera, whose music (or, in Aguilera's case, singles output) has cast a narrower net stylistically. I have always found myself drawn more to Pink's irreverent, up-tempo tunes like "Split Personality," "Stupid Girls," "Funhouse," and "Bad Influence" than her power anthems ("So What," "Who Knew," "Just Like A Pill"), although the latter constitute the majority of her highest-charting singles. But both general styles have proven to be Pink's strong suit, and it makes sense that the second of the new tracks on the upcoming collection should as thoroughly represent the latter style as "Raise Your Glass" does the former.

With a title like "Fuckin' Perfect" one would be forgiven for expecting another raucus, up-tempo romp before pressing "play," perhaps thematically in line with great kiss-off tracks from the singer's library like "U + UR Hand" or "So What." Pink seems to be riding the recent trend of motivational underdog anthems (see Ke$ha's "We R Who We R," Katy Perry's "Firework," Pink's own "Raise Your Glass") a little harder than some, and her second new track delivers essentially the same message as her previous single, but "Fuckin' Perfect" is musically a cousin of "Who Knew" or "Glitter In the Air," softer, down-tempo ballads whose hefty subject matter outweigh any perceived surface-level softness. Like those tracks, it's nice and all, and for those who love Pink for her similarly styled singles, "Fuckin' Perfect" is sure to fill in any cracks "Raise Your Glass" might have left unfilled with motivational goodness.

So even though the new song's not really my style, I'd have trouble coming out right off the bat and criticizing it (at least before further listening on my end): even the titular expletive, which for almost any other artist would come off as desperately pandering, is fitting in this case. It's eye-catching, irreverent, confrontational, crude, and menacing to some while comforting to others. In other words, it fits Pink to a tee.



Greatest Hits... So Far!!! drops November 16.
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