Pink — “So What”

Released: 8.19.08

Peak: #1

I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but I suspect that people call themselves “rock stars” far more often than they ever did back when actual rock stars roamed the earth. With “Rock Band,” wielding an electric guitar has become as much an exercise of fantasy as mowing down zombies – wanting to be David Lee Roth when you grow up must now be as unimaginable as wanting to be Mario. To “Party Like a Rock Star” means to embody some kind of ’70s cartoon of excess, to imitate some mythic being from the past, in the way actual rock stars used to pretend to be cowboys.

 Maybe Pink’s claim on “So What” to be a “rock star” is meant to distinguish her from mere pop celebrities like table-snatching Jessica Simpson. (I prefer the first draft’s “The pilot took my private jet and gave it to Haylie Duff”–now that would sting.) Maybe her fans are more likely to interpret her “rock moves” as signs of badassery than authenticity. Either way, rock this does. That “na-na” opening/ chorus and staccato roller-rink keyboard ring out as though from the Offspring single of my dreams. And, for the latest knot in those strands of autobiography and persona she’s been entangling since she first disregarded L.A. Reid’s advice, she tells off a “tool” of an “ex” who she felt so bad about separating from IRL that she put him in her video.

Though this survey has covered seven years between Pink singles, she’d hardly fallen off. In fact, she had as consistent a run as any teenpop survivor. She actually did play at being a rock star in 2003 on “Trouble,” with help from Rancid’s Tim Armstrong. And even once her self-assertion grew so spiteful she around sympathy for her targets – not just those “Stupid Girls” responsible for the world’s ills, but the hapless slob who buys her a drink in “U and Ur Hand” – she sounded like no one but herself. Sadly, “So What” was the last party she got started. On “Sober” she was one of those self-involved newcomers who holds a meeting hostage (tell it to your sponsor, hon), and in the new decade, her hits leapt with ungainly desperation from one bandwagon to the next. “Glitter in the Air” borrowed Ke$ha’s favorite accessory. “Raise Your Glass” quoted the Joker two years too late. And “Fuckin’ Perfect” was the most deluded of all pop’s new self-esteem anthems.

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  • Chris Molanphy  On August 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I hate to be so contrarian, but I feel like I’m really 180° from you on Pink’s singles. “So What,” with that then-trendy (in late ’08) Max Martin Eurostomp beat, drained away too much of her personality, which is so vital to her appeal. LOVED “U + Ur Hand,” which perfectly nailed her shtick, attitude-plus-a-wink (I get the impression you like it, too, but “Hand” should be on your countdown, not this). And despite histrionics, “Sober” was achingly lovely and right in her wheelhouse, and “Glitter in the Air” was one of the few genuinely good soft-rock-revival hits of the tweens (*really* don’t know what you’re getting at with the Ke$ha comparison—it’s all Stevie Nicks to me). In short: Pink on your countdown, big yes; songs you’ve chosen, I humbly differ.

  • usefulnoise  On August 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Yeah, I like “U + Ur Hand” (I should copyedit that), but it’s a little too “angry Pink song #10” at points. (The spoken word part is very Shania though.) This is the one that does it for me though.

    At least you’re with me on “Perfect” though, right?

  • Chris Molanphy  On August 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I don’t hate “F***in’ Perfect” as much as you, but it’s problematic, to say the least.

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