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The Sound

The truth about Pink


Whenever I see Pink, it reminds me of how much people like to hate Taylor Swift.

Pink (or P!NK, if you’re nasty) and Swift have both made pretty decent livings doing basically the same thing: singing about crappy relationships. But then the paths diverge. While Pink remains almost unassailably adored, for Swift the whole “new breakup/new song” thing has become such a trope that she’s openly mocked for it.

Pink brings her angst to Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, Nov 8.

Pink brings her angst to Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, Nov 8.

Maybe it has something to do with age. People have a hard time believing that a 22-year-old knows what she’s talking about while browsing at Best Buy, much less on the subject of true heartbreak. But perhaps it has to do with accessibility. Swift is the All-American girl. She’s blonde, pretty and sugar sweet. Frankly, it strikes a lot of people as too good to be true, and they tend to just reject it outright. Like one of those new robots with the lifelike skin and eyes that blink, Swift dips into the Uncanny Valley.

Meanwhile Pink has made a career out of casting herself as the misfit. She’s always had those perfect, blonde foils throughout her career — be it Brittney or Christina or Swift — against which to play herself, and she’s done it well. She wails about being the freak, the unpopular one, the one who’s not pretty, not perfect. But have you seen Pink? She’s gorgeous. In a different way, perhaps, with the shaved hair and tattoos and whatnot, but there’s still no mistaking Pink for the town uggo.

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Still, we really don’t care. Pink does it so convincingly that she sells us on each and every idea out of her mouth, and people can relate. While Swift sings about how “we’ll never, ever, ever, ever get back together,” like some Mean Girl at the lunch table, Pink — the party girl with the heart of gold — sings about breaking up, then going out, getting drunk and taking a swing at somebody.

Pink has remained fiercely loyal to the pop stylings that got her the attention in the first place, and we love her for that, too. Her sound has grown over the years and developed a fullness and depth that probably only comes with maturity, while keeping a playfulness that rarely strikes one as cloying or insincere.

Now, as she swings through Des Moines on one of the last legs of her “The Truth About Love” tour, Pink brings the party to Wells Fargo Arena. Universally lauded for her live shows, she is one of those performers who nearly everyone agrees goes out every night and gives a crowd its money’s worth no matter the town, no matter the venue. She’s an acrobatic performer who eschews the modern practice of lip-syncing tracks in the face of a vigorous physical performance, and that only serves as greater testament to the power of her pipes.

It can be easy to get cynical about pop music, especially the more popular and mainstream it is. But every once in a while there’s a performer who manages to transcend that and inspire a nod of approval from even the most jaded cynic or hardcore metal head.

That’s what really sets Pink apart: relatable themes, yes; genuinely engaging personality, yes; but above all, the girl puts on a great show — one that can transcend genre. And much like with great live performers before her — Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips — a time will come when people will look back and say, “I wish I would have gotten to see her live.” CV

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