Your particular 3-point cred stance is powerless against the successful summer single. You might be a card-carrying avantist who listens exclusively to backwards-sounding Bruce Gilbert solo albums. Maybe the leftist worldbeat pop of NPR’s online shop is your bag. Doesn’t matter. Most every summer, there’ll be a song that transcends genre and demographics, spilling sticky icky icky sunscreen all over your precious pop culture cone of silence. At first it’ll be clicks and buzzes, wafting into your ride from the open windows of the driver education sedan stuck next to you in the traffic jam. But soon, it’ll start to take shape. Spins at wedding receptions, wafting through the mall where you buy your organic shampoo, slicing through the background din at that baseball game your brother-in-law made you attend. And before you know it, your badass hipster brain’ll be wondering: Just who did let the dogs out?
The attack of the clones has ended. Lissome False Marias have stopped falling from the skies, crashing through the roof of MTV’s Time Square Studios to take their place on the ‘TRL’ countdown. The weaker members of the popstar herd were predictably killed off through evolution. But what’s surprising is who has survived. While Christina’s been away at weight-gain camp, and Britney’s scrambling to re-focus her career, the girl who never fit in now has a place of her own.
Pink is getting her party started.
“There You Go,” Pink’s 2000 money shot hello, was rendered almost to fairy dust by its shithouse-in-CandyLand R & B production. In fact, her entire introductory solo effort seemed to be fixed with an attitude restrictor valve that just wouldn’t let Alecia Moore’s burgeoning grit bite off an ear like it wanted to. Nevertheless, Can’t Take Me Home went multi-platinum, which has certainly paid Pink dividends in blingy-bling, but has also allowed her, with this year’s Missundaztood, to make the record she likely always wanted to.
After the kooky-cool “Get This Party Started” re-introduced the post-“Lady Marmalade” Pink to her pop constituency, the song was promptly hawked to Bally and the National Basketball Association, to name only a few licensees. But who cares; “Party,” like Madonna’s “Music” before it, was the teaser, the hook, the connection to the party line. With “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” the album’s second single, Pink is showing off more than her new Benzo. “L.A. [Reid, of LaFace Records] told me/You’ll be a pop star/All you have to do/is change everything you are…” Sure, this sort of self-aggrandizement through pity isn’t a new angle in pop music. Bon Jovi begged us to feel sorry for their million-dollar-a-day touring lifestyle in the classic “Wanted Dead or Alive.” But “Don’t Let Me Get Me” takes the sentitment of Pink being an unwanted pop star – but sure, I’ll take the money and fame – and delves into her pathos as a tough, Gia-like character forced to prance around in a thong and buy bionic boobs with her first advance. In this way, “Don’t Let Me Get Me” resembles No Doubt’s “Just A Girl,” another bomb track that established that band’s Gwen Stefani as not simply a pretty blonde frontwoman, but a girl in a great rock band, who isn’t aiming to be this month’s FHM cover girl boiler plate.
I won’t psychoanalyze Pink or her video for “Get Me,” in which she morphs from misunderstood – there’s that word again – high schooler, to misunderstood pop star (there’s THAT word, again) – to misunderstood in her own head. But I will suggest that “Get me” is a great song, with creative lyrics and a solid, if over-produced rock/pop flavor that tries damn hard to match the spite and pleading in Pink’s vocal delivery. In an interesting twist, a large portion of Missundaztood was written by ex-4 Non Blondes vocalist Linda Perry, who’s been making quite a name for herself out in Cali as a writer, producer, and arranger. Though “Don’t Let Me Get Me” – co-written by Pink with producer Dallas Austin – is not a Perry product, its freak flag flies in a similar direction to the one raised by Perry and her old band – “What’s Goin’ On” and its video were left-field hits defined by Perry’s operatic yowl and decidedly un-hot look. (Remember that top hat? Jeez…) Always one to sink her talons into fresh, talented meat, Courtney Love is now courting Perry for new material. Let’s hope Linda doesn’t fall into that pit of punji-stakes…
In the meantime, let’s hope that Perry encourages her young protégé to say no when they ask her about “Lady Marmalade: The Sequel.” No amount of Grrl Power can save Pink, L’il Kim, et al from looking like walk-of-shame trash hounds on their way to a “Cops” photo-op.