It’s hard to believe now that when Pink first emerged on the music scene back in 2000 her record label had her moulded as the next big R&B star. Her debut album, Can’t Take Me Home, featured production by Babyface and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs who had scored a huge hit with No Scrubs by TLC the year before, as well as producing tracks for Destiny’s Child.
It was only on Pink’s second album, the tellingly titled M!ssundaztood, that things began to go stratospheric, the combination of a new rockier sound and angst-ridden lyrics (co-written with Linda Perry) connecting with millions of young fans. Follow-up Try This was a relative failure, especially in America, but 2006’s I’m Not Dead seems to have resurrected Pink as the pop star it’s OK to like.
Whilst M!ssundaztood dealt with everything from depression to drug addiction to family breakdown, Funhouse focuses solely on Pink’s recent divorce. By now you would have heard recent Number 1 So What, a song that opens with the brazen “I guess I just lost my husband / I don’t know where he went” and doesn’t pull any punches where the ex is concerned. In fact Pink is at her best when she uses her real life to create smart, energetic pop songs, which So What undoubtedly is.
Over crunching guitar chords polite enough to let the huge chorus shine through, Pink sounds both pissed off and broken hearted, allowing her vulnerability to peak through the clean production. Credit must also go to Swedish pop producer Max Martin (he of …Baby One More Time fame) whose songs on the album are by far the most radio-friendly, not least It’s All Your Fault, a distant cousin of Kelly Clarkson‘s Since You’ve Been Gone.
But angst is very well in small doses, but over an entire album it can start to grate. So for all her pain, I Don’t Believe You just comes across as tired and clichéd, not helped by the inclusion of strings marked EPIC in 10 feet high letters. Mean is a turgid soft rock effort that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Shania Twain album, and the Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Will Young) collaboration, One Foot Wrong, is as MOR as his musical history would suggest. Elsewhere, Sober and Please Don’t Leave Me are catchy future singles, but both tread the same I-hate-you-I-love-you path she’s walked down a dozen times.
Bizarrely, for an album that can seem bereft of pace, the two most upbeat tracks are tacked on the end, only available through iTunes. This Is How It Goes Down in particular is brilliant, all syncopated beats, bitter lyrics and has a real sense of fun, which on an album entitled Funhouse can be conspicuous by its absence.
It’s easy to see why Pink is currently one of the world’s biggest pop stars; she’s feisty, smart, has a good voice, looks good and is edgy enough to stand out from the crowd but not so much that she alienates anyone. People also feel that they can relate to her honesty, especially in her lyrics, which are so brazen that at times it’s a little uncomfortable, like reading someone’s diary. It can also mean that you sometimes long for something as brilliantly throwaway as Get The Party Started or Trouble, for some genuine fun at this particular Funhouse.