P!nk. So many things can be said right now of this well known musical artist. Immense talent. Brash attitude. Potty mouth. Underdog? Surprisingly so.
Some people may wonder how P!nk, hitmaker since 1999, could ever be considered an underdog. But the unfortunate and completely unfair fact is that this is true. The Doylestown, Pennsylvania native singer entered the music industry around the same time as Beyonce, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera among others, and for some reason is not held in as high of esteem as those previously mentioned singers. And despite the success of her multiple bodies of works, her proven vocal prowess singing a range of songs, her spellbinding entertaining capabilities using acrobatic stunts and still managing to rock a song vocally have not brought her the same accolades that her peers have been given. So let’s look at this case:
Compared to Other Artists of Her Generation
There is no denying that Beyoncé, or Queen Bey, depending on who you’re talking to, has the vocal talents of an otherworldly being. She can sing amazingly high notes, surprisingly low notes, do runs that shouldn’t be possible, but FREAKING ARE and she can dance like a master choreographer. Beyoncé, however, started out in the music industry around the same time as P!nk did. I mean, anyone who is a ’90s kid practically grew up listening to “Crazy In Love” and “Get This Party Started” like crazy. It was a part of every playlist made for any party in the late ’90s, early ’00s. However, not as many people call P!nk a queen or worship her on any level in comparison to that of Beyoncé, and in this case, I am confused. When it comes to Britney Spears, the point is a little more clear, but not in this case. Beyoncé and P!nk both have amazing talent and both have shown that multiple times, and I’m definitely not here to start a debate about who’s better because everyone is allowed their opinions. My only point here is that I believe that since both of these women have shown their talent as well as proven the ability to stay relevant well into careers practically spanning two decades, how is it that P!nk is not as lauded as Beyoncé when it comes to awards or overall general esteem held by the general public? They both speak highly of each other, which is really great to see and who can forget the Pepsi commercial they starred in together for the Super Bowl? However, I still believe that the lack of matching respect held for each of the artists is a little strange to me. In my opinion, I believe that P!nk should have just as many Grammy’s and VMA’s as Beyoncé specifically because of her talent that she has displayed.
Okay, so this might get me some flack, but I’m sorry, there’s a serious difference here between these two singers. First of all, one of the many things P!nk was told when first entering the business was that she would never be as famous as Britney Spears. Let that sink in for a minute. I know, right? Moving on! There’s no bad blood between these pop stars. They both participated in the Pepsi commercial for the Super Bowl with Beyoncé and Britney has always had nice things to say about P!nk. However, we need to look at facts. Just like Beyoncé, people refer to Britney as Queen Britt, but I find it a much harder pill to swallow to call Britt a queen. Beyoncé has some serious talent. Britney can sing, don’t get me wrong, but her rise to where she is has not been as steady as Bey’s or P!nk’s. Britt’s last album, Britney Jean was essentially a commercial flop. P!nk’s last album, The Truth About Love, debuted at #1, spawned a huge worldwide tour that was extended due to sponsorship from Covergirl, and was nominated for multiple Grammy awards. She even performed two of the songs, “Try” and “Just Give Me A Reason” at the show, doing her famous aerial stunts. So let’s expand on that. Britney can sing, but she’s pitchy when she’s standing still and singing, and even then, there’s not much strength behind her voice. If she were to attempt to do the kind of performances that P!nk does regularly, she wouldn’t be anywhere near the pitch she’d need to be singing. On top of that, P!nk sings live, even while hanging upside down and being thrown around on stage during her performances of “Try” (see her American Music Awards performance from 2013). There are multiple instances on YouTube where it’s obvious that Britney is lip synching and she’s doing regular dance routines that pale in comparison to the stunts that P!nk does. Then, let’s move to the obvious part about Britney’s public meltdown. P!nk is never going to be as famous as Britney Spears? Really? I bet the person that said that ate their words when they saw Britney shaving her head and attacking paparazzi with an umbrella. Now, I understand that she was going through a great many things at that time, but still. I don’t mean to bash Britney, that’s not my intention. But explain to me how Britney can be dubbed the “Princess of Pop” when P!nk has pretty much proven in every way that she is way more deserving of that title?
Similar to the comparison I made to Beyoncé, my only purpose in putting this in here is sheer confusion. Christina is the so-called “master” of reinvention in the industry. I mean, who can forget that this girl went from “Genie In A Bottle” fresh out of the Mickey Mouse Club to “Dirrty”? Yeah, I know. Then, she went to slowed down heart breaking ballads like “Beautiful” and “Hurt”, then going crazy again with her misguided album Bionic. Yeah, I said it. The entire album was a bit of a problem for critics and fans alike. And that’s where my confusion comes in. Reinvention is just part of the music industry. Music trends and the artists creating them change. P!nk went through her own reinvention. She started out as an R&B type singer with hits like “There You Go” and “Most Girls”. Then, by her second album M!Ssundaztood, she was a pop rocker with songs like “Just Like A Pill” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me”. Then, she went to Try This, where things got even darker and more rock-esque. But here’s where P!nk hit a snag. Not at all as well received as her other albums, Try This was a bit disappointing commercially. However, unlike the disappointment caused by Bionic, Try This still earned P!nk a Grammy for “Trouble”. So even in P!nk’s lowest moment of commercial success, the girl is still winning a Grammy! Bionic failed to spawn a serious hit with the exception of “Not Myself Tonight”, and that didn’t last very long on the charts. P!nk has still managed to reinvent herself today. She was her own blend of pop and rock on her 2006 album I’m Not Dead with hits like “Who Knew” and “U + Ur Hand”, and her 2008 record Funhouse which churned out “So What”, “Sober”, and “Please Don’t Leave Me”. By the time The Truth About Love came out, the singer had gone a little more pop than she had ever gone before, but was still getting hits like “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”, “Try”, and “Just Give Me A Reason” out of it, including more Grammy nominations. So when it comes to reinvention, I fail to see how Christina is better at it than P!nk. And let’s not even touch on the feud that occurred between the two when “Lady Marmalade” was recorded (for info about that, look up P!nk’s Behind the Music interview on VH1. Let’s just say, Christina is a diva, but let’s not act like we don’t already know that). Both very talented individuals, but again, confused.
As I mentioned before, P!nk has been topping charts and giving us hit songs since 1999. That’s almost two decades y’all! So, if you read above this section about Christina Aguilera vs. P!nk, and you recognized any or all of those songs, that should be your first indication that this girl has quite the catalog. I would like to compare this to Katy Perry. When Katy performed at the Super Bowl, she performed a medley of her many hits. Following that, I, like many others, was freaking out on social media, when I came across Mindy Kaling pointing out that even with all of the songs that Katy sang, there were so many more hits that she has had that she didn’t even sing. That would be the case if P!nk ever did the Super Bowl!
There are few people in the music industry who would be able to consistently release albums and songs that do well. She’s had at least one hit song from each one of her records. I mentioned a bunch of them before, but if you don’t believe me, go onto her page on iTunes and look at her music and tell me that you don’t recognize a single song on there. In case you don’t feel like doing that, I’ve made a list:
Can’t Take Me Home (2000): “There You Go”, “Most Girls”, “You Make Me Sick”
M!Ssundaztood (2001): “Get This Party Started”, “Don’t Let Me Get Me”, “Just Like A Pill”, “Family Portrait”
Try This (2003): “Trouble”, “God Is A DJ”
I’m Not Dead (2006): “Who Knew”, “Stupid Girls”, “U + Ur Hand”, “Dear Mr. President”, “Long Way To Happy”
Funhouse (2008): “So What”, “Sober”, “Please Don’t Leave Me”, “Funhouse”, “Glitter In The Air”
Greatest Hits…So Far!!! (2010): “Raise Your Glass”, “F**kin’ Perfect”
The Truth About Love (2012): “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”, “Try”, “Just Give Me A Reason”, “True Love”
And here’s one of the other astounding things. Even after an over ten year career, she’s still making hits! When she hit the 10-year mark of her career, she released Greatest Hits…So Far!!! which featured three new songs, two of which became two new hits to add to her catalog: “Raise Your Glass” and “F**kin’ Perfect”. It’s crazy that some people don’t realize how much music P!nk has made in her career.
In an industry that is so paranoid about throne-stealing and “who is copying who”, P!nk has stood out from other artists since the beginning. When she first started out, it was because of her “no cares given” attitude and her vibrant pink hair. It grew to be her unique sound around the time of her second record and since then, it has been her music and her performances that have separated her from other performers.
- She writes her own music, WHICH brings me to the theory of ARTIST vs. SINGER. Many people use the word “ARTIST” without really thinking much about the connotation of the word. When using the word “artist” in terms of music, it should be used to describe a person in the industry who in their own way creates a unique contribution to their respective industry. That contribution, whatever it is, should in some way come from that so called “artist”. A SINGER is simply a vocalist who sings. They sing songs written for them by other people. And trust me, there is nothing wrong with that! Whitney Houston, one of the, if not the, best vocalists ever did not write majority of her biggest hits and frankly, if you’ve ever heard her sing, you would realize that she didn’t need to. Woman had some PIPES! However, she was a singer. Michael Jackson, a singer who wrote his own material, who was in charge of the visual media that accompanied his music, was an artist. P!nk has written on almost all of her songs (“Try” being one of her bigger hits that she herself didn’t actually write, but it was the only song on the record that she herself did not have a hand in writing) and uses her visuals to convey the messages she writes about even further. That makes her an artist.
- Her live performances cannot be matched, in quality of the acts being performed or the vocal performance. If you Google “P!nk performance” or search it on YouTube, any one of her live performances will blow you away. Her rendition of “Glitter In The Air” from the Grammy Awards, where she flies above the audience, belting entirely on key, supported solely by silk. Her American Music Award performance of “Try” where she reenacts the entire dance number from the music video, and still manages to sing the song on key (try doing that without lip syncing, Chris Brown, I dare you). Her performances of “Sober” on her Australian leg of the Funhouse Tour, where she is swinging above the stage, belting, jumps off the swing, is caught in mid air, and yes, is still on key. And even when she’s not doing aerial or impressive mind blowing stunts, she can still mesmerize you by simply singing (something artists like Justin Bieber should really focus on doing. Dude has serious vocal talent, but he need to remind us why we all liked him in the first place). Watch her performance of her song “Dear Mr. President” and feel the emotion she puts into every barbed word towards former president George W. Bush. Or watch her acoustic performance of “Trouble” on the American Music Awards, where Jimmy Kimmel aptly follows her performance, saying, “It’s always such a pleasant surprise when people can actually sing”.
- Her music videos. Michael Jackson is absolutely, without a doubt, one of the best artists when it comes to music videos and visual accompaniment to his music. P!nk does a great job of this herself. Because she writes her own music, she has a message in mind with each song, so when it comes to the music video, who better to understand what needs to put in the visual than the person that wrote the song? P!nk’s video for “F**kin’ Perfect” is one such video that explores the issue that many young people face with searching for an identity, the pressure of conformity, and the many attempts of figuring out where we fit in within the confines of the world around us. While at times difficult to watch, P!nk should be commended from not shying away from showing someone that is driven to depression that cuts themselves. It’s the hard truth, and the more we hide ourselves from that, the more you sweep a problem under the rug, the bigger the problem becomes and the longer it takes for the problem to be solved. The video for “Stupid Girls” is another video that perfectly conveys a message that is still quite relevant today. In an age where young girls are growing up looking to Kim Kardashian for life advice, a song that flat out asks, “Where, oh where have the smart people gone?” and “What happened to the dream of the girl president, she’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent” is something that should be shown now more than ever (ironic how this song was written trashing Paris Hilton, who once employed Kim as an assistant, and now the song could be EASILY applied to Kim now that Paris isn’t even relevant). And, if her music videos aren’t always articulating a message, they are no matter what entertaining. She spoofs the movie The Shining in her “Please Don’t Leave Me” visual, and who doesn’t want to drive a rider mower in traffic, trash a guitar in the middle of Guitar Center or cut down your neighbor’s tree with a chainsaw like in “So What”? All are completely memorable visuals.
Emotion & Believability
Some of the world’s greatest vocalists are known as such for their vocal ranges, their ability to stay on key and on pitch, their overall tone, and their vocal control. However, something that sets a lot of artists apart is the ability to inject emotion and feeling into the songs they sing. If the song you’re listening to is an emotional ballad about some breaking your heart, you’re going to want to hear the singer painfully lamenting those lyrics. Why do you think Adele is so successful? Besides having an incredibly powerful voice, she’s believable because of how much you can feel her emotions through her performances. There are few people that can really do this well, so much so that you believe they are truly feeling that pain.
Adele and Beyoncé are two people I feel are quite good at this, though I know many other artists that can do this as well. Amy Winehouse is a great example of this. Back To Black is the perfect album for anyone who wants to know what raw emotion feels like. Listen to the live recording of “Love Is A Losing Game” on YouTube and feel her loss as she sings those heartbreaking words. Watch Adele perform “Don’t You Remember” or “Someone Like You” and try not to well up as she tears up herself. Listen to Beyoncé’s new song “Sandcastles” and tell me that when her voice breaks, you don’t feel some pang in your heart too.
P!nk is one of the artists that forces you to believe her, simply with her voice, no matter what emotion she is singing about. Listen to a live performance of “Family Portrait” and you will hear the story of a young girl growing up in a split household, her parents constantly fighting, seeing the only example of love set for her in life go bad before her eyes, and then being so scared to love someone else because she doesn’t want to end up like the poor relationship her parents had. Listen to the straight up frustration and anger at George W Bush in “Dear Mr. President” as she lashes out at him for his “No Child Left Behind” policy and his stance against gay and gender equality rights. Try not to feel for her as she sings on “I Don’t Believe You”, telling her lover that just because they’re fighting doesn’t mean that deep inside, the love they had for each other just disappeared. It’s incredibly rare to find an artist that can put that emotion into their music and for the listener to be able to feel it and believe that the person singing is truly feeling those emotions. That’s a skill that should be so appreciated, because that’s the purpose of music. It’s to move you, to make you feel things.
I mentioned before that P!nk started out with an R&B type sound on her first record and singles. I also went through her stages of reinvention. Throughout that reinvention, one thing is for certain: P!nk can sing almost anything. From strong declarations of independence and anger like “So What” to sad soft ballads like “Family Portrait” and “The Great Escape”, she can do it all. But she can also do covers really well.
Her cover of “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin is unmatched, with her signature rasp and and unflinchingly strong vocals that could only be beat by Joplin herself, even Simon Cowell called it the best cover of the song he’s ever heard. Her cover of Cindi Lauper’s “Time After Time” is so beautiful and is so simple when just performed with her and a guitar. She covered Chris Issak’s “Wicked Games” while being lifted and moved around by back up dancers in a dark, sexy performance that is quite spellbinding for those that know the original song. Her covers of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen are crazy good in quality, especially since both songs are, especially “Rhapsody”, are hard to replicate when the original versions are so iconic. And let’s not forget that her duet with Sara McLachlan on her song “Angel” which was so harmonically beautiful. She sang Carole King’s “So Far Away” for King herself for the Grammy’s in 2015 and it was breathtaking, just her and the piano.
Also, if you didn’t already know, P!nk and Dallas Green of the band City & Colour, have a side project called You & Me. They released an album in 2014 called Rose Ave. and it’s full of indie guitar jams that are so much more Green’s ballpark that it’s so surprising how well the pairing works. But it does! The harmonies are so tight, the lyrics are gripping, the emotion is so clear and palpable and the whole album was written in a week. The two of them sat down and wrote all of the songs in a week in a completely organic process. Many albums take so long to write and with so many co-writers and countless others attached to the projects, but these two were the sole writers on the songs on the record, besides a cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love”. It’s completely different than most of P!nk’s music, which makes it that much more impressive when you realize how well it works and how awesome it is that she can do that kind of music as well as her heavy hitting pop jams.
Not everyone is going to like P!nk’s music. I can’t force you to listen to her music and to come out saying, “This is the best thing I’ve ever heard in your life!” It’s not possible! It’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I think that we all can at least agree that she is definitely one of the most talented artists of our generation, and with the amount of buzz surrounding other artists we know and love today, it’s an incredible mistake to underrate her as much as the music industry does. The beautiful thing is that P!nk doesn’t care that she’s an underdog. She’s going to keep doing her thing and that’s another thing that makes her a great artist: she’s going to do her, no matter what. And that’s what has kept her relevant this whole time in the music industry and that is what is going to keep her relevant and making some really amazing music until she decides to stop singing.