Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Pink

  • Can't Take Me Home [LaFace, 2000] B+
  • Missundaztood [Arista, 2001] A
  • Try This [Arista, 2003] **
  • I'm Not Dead [LaFace/Zomba, 2006] A-
  • Funhouse [LaFace, 2008] Choice Cuts
  • Greatest Hits . . . So Far!!! [LaFace/Jive, 2010] A-
  • The Truth About Love [RCA, 2012] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Can't Take Me Home [LaFace, 2000]
Armed with a Day-Glo dye job and some ace Babyface subcontracts, a tough talker diddles teenpop's love button. In a world where the half-word "sh-" teeters on the edge of going too far, she and hers bet-correctly-that a simple "I'm pissed" will pack a wallop, and work from there. When she admits to the loss of her slurred "cherry" in the finale, you can only wonder how sexy she'll be when she shows pink for real. B+

Missundaztood [Arista, 2001]
Teen idols have matured at their peril since Del Shannon told us the name he was born with, and between the Internet gossip roast and Carson Daly's Dick Clark act, the current crop will have it even tougher. Which makes this meeting of L.A. Reid's double-platinum Philadelphia white girl and justly forgotten 4 Non Blondes emoter Linda Perry even more of a feat. These are pop songs in the sense that they deliver their payloads in 90 seconds. But they're also confessional, dark, downtempo--and, OK, a little gauche sometimes, which just makes them seem realer. Despite Pink's audacious claim that she's not as pretty as "damn Britney Spears," celebrity anxiety takes a backseat to a credible personal pain rooted in credible family travails, a pain held at bay by expression. Artistically, it's a next step for a genre I never thought would take one. I wish I believed Justin Timberlake's solo debut will sound half as honest, frustrated, and fulfilled. A

Try This [Arista, 2003]
"It's people like us who make me sick"--well said, and a bad sign ("Humble Neighborhoods," "Save My Life"). **

I'm Not Dead [LaFace/Zomba, 2006]
With American Idol rampant, it's nice to have this emotional hipster sticking her celebrity cred in the stupid world's face. She overdoes the ballads, but what kind of teen idol could she be if she didn't? She's got turf to claim before dropping "Dear Mr. President," which assumes, correctly, that Bush did coke and teens care about the homeless. If there's a Bono song like that, the stupid world missed it. And if stardom slips through Pink's cleavage, she's got an answer: "You don't have to like me any more/I've got money now." No, she doesn't mean it--that's just a smarter than usual woe-is-stardom song. Much smarter than usual. A-

Funhouse [LaFace, 2008]
"So What" Choice Cuts

Greatest Hits . . . So Far!!! [LaFace/Jive, 2010]
Nine of these 16 tracks are from albums with their own strong identities, including four from the 2001 policy statement Misundaztood, the rest of which holds up fine even without them. Normally, that would be too many. But the same four songs transfer nicely from that concept album to a best-of that salvages the pugnacious "So What," links "Trouble" to "Glitter in the Air," and adds two top-shelf Max Martin blends. It's where I will go for a shot of the longterm hitmaker rather than the 21-year-old who's finding herself in public. A-

The Truth About Love [RCA, 2012]
Proving you can get as much variety out of a tempestuous marriage as out of the bar life your temporary breakups leave on the table, Pink and her 21 collaborators fashion a recorded image of her feisty, heartfelt, all-over-the-place love/sex life. Until the last two songs, whose overwrought drama I don't have to like just because I trust its verisimilitude, they hit every time. The comic-only-not title track is perfect if not necessarily the truth, followed for me by the introductory "Are We All We Are" (its title transformed into a chorus-chanted hide-and-seek readymade) and the see-ya "Slut Like You" ("I'm not a slut/I just love love"). Then again, I'm a known sucker for feisty. So note that I'm also taken with the acoustic duet she shares with fellow babymama Lily Allen. And although it's true that I'd rather hear Robyn sing "Try," it's also true that I think "Try" is good enough for Robyn. A

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