Hey party starters! I'm Sam Lansky, and this is "Pop Think," my weekly column about pop music, pop culture and Pop Rocks. (Well, not the last one.) This week's subject? The one and only Pink, who's back and ballsier than ever with her new single, "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)." It's a promising return to form for the pop-rocker, who's always been one of the more compelling figures in the pop music landscape: audacious, fearless and viciously outspoken, Pink's attitude is matched only by her talent. So what if she's now a married mom? She's still a rock star -- and now, gearing up for her first new LP in four years, The Truth About Love (due out Sept. 18), I think it's only fair to expect another album of refreshingly candid pop-rock.
There aren't many artists whose careers have been as much of a sheer joy to follow as Pink, whose music alternates between celebratory and revelatory (and sometimes both). No matter what kind of song she's tackling, Pink paints a picture of a brutally honest, warts-and-all songwriter and performer. Whether she's celebrating her imperfections, going through a breakup or criticizing the president, Pink doesn't hide her skeletons in the closet. She leaves them out in broad daylight, where they're on full display. And sharing her inner mechanisms, triumphs, trials and tribulations has made her far easier to relate to than most other pop stars. That authenticity was front and center in 2002's Missundaztood (which remains one of my top 5 pop albums of the last decade), which traded the canned urban-pop beats of her debut album for sharply produced pop-rock with notes of haunting vulnerability. Accordingly, Pink always rises above the fray, which I believe has something to do with an emotional realness that's anti-commercial in its ferocity.
Rough around the edges in all the right ways, each of her songs has enough distinctive Pink flavor that it could never come from any other pop star. Her sound is more vengeful than Kelly Clarkson and not as bratty as Avril Lavigne. And she's known for a flair for big production that most of her contemporaries would never go for. As a result, Pink's music packs major commercial appeal but never loses that tough-girl swagger that keeps her from sounding vanilla -- even after five studio albums, a greatest hits album punctuated by an anthemic Dr. Luke-produced single, and her latest single.
+ Read more about Pink's new single and her unique role in pop music after the jump.
Which brings us to "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," which distills a career of emotional high stakes into one blissfully heated rejection letter. If "So What" was an angry kiss-off, "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" -- co-written and produced by Greg Kurstin, who helped Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" become a No. 1 song -- is its more wounded counterpart, rich with splendidly spoiled lyrical images that illustrate all that frustration. Gone are the taunting "Na na na na na na na na"s that opened "So What," replaced instead with the same guitar strum and a propulsive backbeat that provide a perfect backdrop for her frustrations: "Tie a knot in the rope, trying to hold, trying to hold/But there's nothing to grab so I let go."
That's not to say that Pink doesn't get a few jabs in, telling her dude that she thinks he's "full of s***" in the chorus and, most memorably, crowing in the second verse, "No more sick whiskey d***, no more battles for me/You'll be calling a trick cause you'll no longer sleep/I'll dress nice, I'll look good, I'll go dancing alone/I will laugh, I'll get drunk, I'll take somebody home." Pink's had it up to here (to quote Gwen Stefani), but she's never been one to sulk.
The truth is, Pink's getting older (cue "Landslide" playing gently in the background, y'all), and in this next chapter -- reunited with her on-again, off-again husband Carey Hart, and now the mother of her first daughter, Willow Sage -- those feelings are only going to get more complicated. But we can't see Pink ever writing songs that aren't totally outspoken, totally empowering and absolutely relatable. Pink still has her signature attitude and rock moves, and she's still as much of a rock star as ever. My guess is that she always will be.