A successor of sorts to “I’m Real.” Teenpop steps into the clubs, with that inaugural flash of paparazzi bulbs as yet welcome, nouveau post-adolescent innocence mistaking conspicuous consumption for “growing up,” and no premonitions as yet of the spotlit staggers for tomorrow’s tabs to publicize. As the mantle of fabulousness passes from hip-hop moguls to pantyless debutantes, “Get the Party Started” is all buzz, no hangover.
From some blonde dolly–worse yet, some dude–this sense of entitlement would be unbearable if it not self-parodic. (A decade’s proof of that to come.) And Shirley Bassey’s version (on par with Tom Jones’ “Kiss”) did mine the song for its implicit camp value. But what sets Alecia Moore apart is that chuckle, a once-awkward striver reveling in the newfound power that wealth and celebrity produce. That old pop staple of giddily hearing your song on the radio for the first time transforms into a fantasy of crowd control: “Ev’rybody’s dancin’ and they’re dancin’ for me.”
More on Pink’s self-refashioning from R&B second-stringer to proud anti-Britney later in the show. Now’s the time to give Linda Perry her begrudged due. The former Non-Blonde had no business writing dance hits, and the wonderfully overblown kitchen-sinkery that adorns her first programmed drumbeat shows it. From the horn blats to the synth irrelevancies to the irresistible clunk of the cowbell, this is the R&B equivalent of a little girl playing dress up and wearing all her mom’s jewelry. It’s sheer beginner’s luck, and it suggests that pop could use more beginners–compare the drab misuse of both Redman and the Eurythmics on the Rockwilder remix if you want to hear professionalism give itself a bad name.
Had “Beautiful” been her comeback hit, as Perry had planned in her woodshed demo days, she’d be just another resilient bizzer, and quickly forgotten. Instead, she was a has-been who redefined her role in the industry, and her news-hook resurgence overshadowed her dismal subsequent hit-to-miss ratio–for every “Get the Party Started,” she’s got an album’s worth of Daniel Powter tracks, and penning Gwen Stefani’s second- (maybe third) best song only counts for so much. And hovering beyond it all: 4 Non-Blondes and “What’s Up,” Lollapalooza’s answer to the Indigo Girls. Yeah, Linda Perry owed us. So don’t call it a comeback–call it atonement.