Deep Album Cuts Vol. 13: Pink

Pink, or P!nk, whatever you wanna call her, has emerged through an up-and-down career as one of the most consistent and consistently successful pop stars of her generation. The numbers back this up: she was the #1 artist on the Pop Songs chart from 2000 to 2009 when Billboard did their end-of-decade lists, surpassing any number of artists who'd been far more frequently proclaimed the 'queen of pop' or whatever. In a field where consistency and longevity are these mythical virtues that are half-heartedly pursued by trying to remind people of Madonna, Pink seems more and more like a phenomenon unto herself, even as she exists in the same musical wheelhouse as Kelly Clarkson and, to a lesser extent, Katy Perry, often getting offered the same material from the same songwriters.

Pink found instant platinum success with her debut album Can't Take Me Home, but immediately began tinkering with her sound and image and rebelling against her label, which was kind of a shame since she was good at slick pop R&B. In fact, she played out what's become a familiar arc for female singers on major labels: she wanted to be more rock than her label wanted her to be (see also: Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, even more recently Sky Ferriera). It's indicative of Pink's blunt sense of humor that her riskiest album was called Try This, and when that didn't work out well, the comeback album was called I'm Not Dead. Since then, there's been less overt wrestling with her musical identity or with the music industry or with her collaborators, and she's found a good niche. She's not exactly cool, but she's always had a likable big sister kind of vibe that has served her well as she's transitioned from the bratty early stuff to the more emotionally resonant last couple albums.

Pink Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. It's All Your Fault
2. Are We All We Are
3. Try Too Hard
4. 18 Wheeler
5. Hell Wit Ya
6. The One That Got Away
7. Save My Life
8. Mean
9. Long Way To Happy
10. Walk of Shame
11. Can't Take Me Home
12. M!ssundaztood
13. I'm Not Dead
14. The Truth About Love
15. Crystal Ball
16. Tonight's The Night
17. One Foot Wrong
18. Hooker
19. I Got Money Now
20. The Great Escape
21. Let Me Let You Know

Tracks 5, 11 and 21 from Can't Take Me Home (2000)
Track 4 and 12 from Missundaztood (2001)
Tracks 3, 7, 16 and 18 from Try This (2003)
Track 6, 9, 13 and 19 from I'm Not Dead (2006)
Tracks 1, 8, 15 and 17 from Funhouse (2008)
Tracks 2, 10, 14 and 20 from The Truth About Love (2012)

A couple years ago, I wrote a Radio Hits One column about the phenomenon of musicians who start out in one hit wonder (or flash in the pan) bands, and then spin off into really successful careers as producers and songwriters for the stars: Linda Perry (formerly of 4 Non Blondes), Greg Kurstin (formerly of Geggy Tah), Dan Wilson (formerly of Semisonic), Butch Walker (formerly of Marvelous 3). And Pink is kind of the patron saint of this phenomenon, because all of the above have all worked on her albums -- plus Tim Armstrong of Rancid worked on nearly all of Try This. All in all, 10 songs from this mix were written and/or produced by people who were in bands that had one or two alt-rock radio hits in the '90s. Buch Walker's work with Pink, particularly "Mean," was really what got me to check out his solo records, which I've become a big fan of.

Almost all these albums have tracks that are either so obnoxiously goofy or so mawkishly sentimental that they test my tolerance, but each of them also has some killer cuts (Missundaztood less than the others for me -- just not into that era of her career at all, successful as it was). A lot of really good Pink songs were either on bonus tracks of certain editions of albums (The Truth About Love outtake "My Signature Move" is amazing) or were barely charting promo singles from towards the end of album cycles, so this isn't even a comprehensive list of her best songs that you wouldn't know if you only know her music from the radio. Still, she's got a lot of jams, and it's been nice to see the cumulative effect of her being this good for this song start to result in her finally seeming as popular as she's been for a long time.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
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