RCA Records · October 13, 2017
On her 7th studio album, P!nk follows in Lady Gaga’s footsteps; becoming dreadfully boring in the wake of the excitement and edge that made us fall in love with her.
It took me over three hours to get through this album. This is problematic for several reasons, not the least of which is that the album is barely 50 minutes long. This is the album’s biggest downfall: Its exhausting and bland sound is so far from the artist that always loved to live on the edge, that I had a hard time getting behind it, mostly because P!nk isn’t selling it to me like she used to.
The opening track, for which the album is named, begins the 50 minute ride into mediocrity. No need to listen to this track; I found a way for you to recreate it at home. Just take the beat to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar,’ cut and paste the lyrics from Ke$ha’s ‘Your Love Is My Drug’ and Halsey’s ‘Now or Never’ over it, and you made it yourself. Even worse, the instrumentals sound like they were recorded on a classroom keyboard. From the flat sounding strings and keys to the poorly produced bass and synthetic-horns, it certainly sets the tone for a rather disappointing track list. Many tracks follow a similar and certainly well-treaded path, including ‘Where We Go,’ ‘Better Life,’ ‘Secrets,’ and ‘I Am Here’. They stay in P!nk’s comfortable wheelhouse, but they don’t deliver anything I couldn’t see coming or could find myself enjoying.
P!nk channels Chance the Rapper on the soul-inspired ‘Revenge,’ which I guess is her shot at making a break up anthem a-la ‘Blow Me (One Last Kiss)’ and ‘So What.’ It falls spectacularly flat, which is mostly due to some of the most embarrassing rapping I have ever heard. But enough about the Eminem feature. Much like her Trump-dissing trackmate, P!nk attempts to ‘spit some mad rhymes’ on this song, which gives me PTSD to her cringe-worthy cash cow ‘Just Like Fire.’ Her rapping is so appalling that she actually has to follow it with the lyric “Now here comes that singing part,” just in case we forgot this was a P!nk song. I’ve read a lot of reviews that say that this song is bound for radio play. I don’t have the words for this claim, but I know someone who does. This is one of the two songs on this record that I can say with certainty I downright detest.
The worse track of the two is ‘Barbies,’ a dreadfully tiresome and nostalgia-centric ballad that actually forced me to turn this record off and listen to Funhouse. The lyrics are the usual “Why can’t we just be kids again, things were so much easier then” crap that you hear on every pop record you’ve ever listened to and every Girlpool record you wished you didn’t. This track sounds like an ultra-pretentious acoustic guitar set that would make you leave the coffee shop you are sitting in, and after looking at the writing credits, I understand why: The song was co-written by Julia Michaels, a white noise machine that made a wish on a shooting star to become a real person. This track got under my skin for its sheer lack of originality, but its painfully minimalist instrumentals is what brought me to call it my least favorite song on the record. The only ballad I will give props to on this record is ‘You Get My Love,’ where P!nk sings a lullaby to her family with easily the most stellar vocal performance on the record. It’s a shame that this is the last track, because this is one of two moments on this LP that I actually enjoyed.
The other moment that I enjoyed was the leading single, ‘What About Us.’ The song, unlike many songs on this record, shows some level of complexity in its lyrics and subject matter. ‘Barbie’ and ‘Beautiful Trauma’ are unenjoyable pop songs because they are instrumentally bland and lyrically two dimensional. ‘Barbie’ is just about nostalgia and ‘Beautiful Trauma’ is just about a complicated relationship. ‘What About Us’ takes the leap to talk to her lover and say, “The past seemed blissful, but looking back it was toxic. We can’t go back, and if this is going to continue we have to work towards a better future.” The anthemic chorus is backed by bright EDM synths that contrast nicely to P!nk’s rising-legato vocal melody. Its great pop songwriting, great production, but unfortunately, not enough to save this record.
P!nk is an artist that I grew up loving, especially because she was one of the first artists that my whole family listened to, so this review wasn’t fun to write at all. Listening to this album was one of the most uninspiring musical experiences I’ve had in a long time, and unfortunately, I can’t see many more records in P!nk’s future. With an MTV Music Video Lifetime Achievement award in hand and another Top 10 single, this album could have been a hell of a last hoorah before starting the ‘Greatest Hits Tour’ circuit. However, I don’t think this is how the badass queen of pop wants to go down. I think, after this unfortunate exercise in lethargy, I can optimistically hope for one more kickass album. The world is full of evil clowns, girl. Hope this is the fire under your ass. Burn it down.