Sunday, May 8, 2016

P!nk for Mother's Day

Well, it’s Mother’s Day again, and this year I’ve decided to work on another music mix for The Mother.  Now, The Mother has a tendency to go through musical phases, which she calls “going to church.”  For a while she went to the Church of Bob Marley.  Then she switched to the Church of the Beatles.  Then, for a while, she worshipped at the Church of Queen.  There were also stints with Elton John and Jimi Hendrix.  For a period of some number of weeks, she will play a greatest hits CD when riding around with the kids, which not only gives The Mother an enjoyable listening experience, but also provides valuable musical educatiion to my children.  So I always support her in whatever she wants to move on to next.

And her next target is P!nk.  She asked me to get all six of P!nk’s albums recently, which I did.  So I thought for Mother’s Day it might be nice to put together my own version of a greatest hits album.  This somewhat complements my Mother’s Day mix from a few years back, although this one is a double album: two CDs worth of P!nk.

For this, I paid absolutely no attention to what singles were released off each album.  I just played them all and picked out the songs I liked.  Now, I’ve personally always liked P!nk, at least a little.  M!ssundaztood is an excellent album, although I generally like her other albums less.  However, as I listened to her complete ouvre, I began to realize that I actually like her even more than I realized.  Oh, sure, her first album (Can’t Take Me Home) is not so great, and Try This is fairly consistently “meh,” but Funhouse and I’m Not Dead are nearly as good as M!ssundaztood, and even The Truth about Love has some great moments.  I separated all my picks into “definitely"s and “maybe"s, and I ended up with enough for two volumes, so I just kept all the “maybes” rather than try to trim it down to a single disc.  I was almost exactly one song short, lengthwise, so I went back and picked up “Beam Me Up” from The Truth about Love, a song which I initially discarded as too cheesy and too country.  But it provides an extra downbeat song (an area where P!nk needs bolstering), and, besides: The Mother actually likes country.  Although I try not to hold that against her.

Once I had my complete list, I worked on trying to arrange them into some semblance of a sine wave: from upbeat through mid-tempo to downbeat, then starting back up the other side.  I worked on avoiding using two songs from the same album back-to-back, similar to how I avoid repeating the same artist for my mixes.  I also tried to spread out my “maybe"s, so there wouldn’t be too many iffy songs in a row.  But P!nk has a habit of growing on you, so even the songs you thought were only okay at first start to sound pretty good after repeated listens.

Although I tried to spread it out so both discs would be strong, I think I ended up making volume I a bit more awesome than volume II.  It kicks off with “So What,” which is definitely my favorite P!nk song not on M!ssundaztood, and certainly a strong opener.  Then into “Are We All We Are,” which is one of those songs that grows on you, then “U + Ur Hand” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” for a four-song blast which really shows off what P!nk can do when she sets her mind to it.  Then a 3-song stretch which is a bit less strong, but still good, which leads us to the 3-way punch of “Respect,” “Trouble,” and the knock-out ”‘Cuz I Can,” which shows off P!nk’s lyrical playfulness:

So I’ll cash my checks and place my bets and hope I’ll always win
Even if I don’t I’m fucked because I live a life of sin
But it’s all right, I don’t give a damn
I don’t play your rules, I make my own
Tonight I’ll do what I want
‘Cuz I can

From there we go downbeat for a bit: “Dear Diary,” which is our volume namer, then “Glitter in the Air,” which is probably P!nk’s second-best slow song, a very pretty ballad.  Then we have “The Truth about Love,” the title song from P!nk’s latest album, which somehow reminds me of Voice of the Beehive.  And that takes us into the home stretch for volume I.

In the P!nk I
    [I've Been a Bad, Bad Girl]

        “So What” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “Are We All We Are” by P!nk, off The Truth about Love
        “U + Ur Hand” by P!nk, off I'm Not Dead
        “Don't Let Me Get Me” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Catch Me While I'm Sleeping” by P!nk, off Try This
        “Hell Wit Ya” by P!nk, off Can't Take Me Home
        “Slut Like You” by P!nk, off The Truth about Love
        “Respect” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Trouble” by P!nk, off Try This
        “'Cuz I Can” by P!nk, off I'm Not Dead
        “Dear Diary” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Glitter in the Air” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “The Truth about Love” by P!nk, off The Truth about Love
        “Can't Take Me Home” by P!nk, off Can't Take Me Home
        “Last to Know” by P!nk, off Try This
        “Numb” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Funhouse” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “Leave Me Alone (I'm Lonely)” by P!nk, off I'm Not Dead
        “Beam Me Up” by P!nk, off The Truth about Love
        “Gone to California” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
Total:  20 tracks,  74:15

A couple more average-good tracks, then “Numb,” then the title track from her next-to-newest album, then “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely),” which is another song that reminds me of something else completely divorced from P!nk’s normal style, although this time I can’t quite put my finger on it.  But it’s very catchy, and I dig it quite a lot.

We close with the aforementioned “Beam Me Up,” then my favorite P!nk slow song, “Gone to California,”  This has a slightly psychedelic groove which really worms its way into your brain.  I thought it was a really fine way to close out volume I.

Volume II starts out strong with what certainly has to be the all-time greatest P!nk song ever, “Get the Party Started.”  This is the song that first made me fall in love with P!nk, and I don’t think she’s ever topped it yet.  “Stupid Girls is a strong follow-up though, and while “God Is a DJ” isn’t quite as strong, it’s got a super-catchy chorus.  “This Is How It Goes Down” isn’t quite filler, but I’ll admit it’s a break from the awesome, and saying “Do What U Do” is the best song on P!nk’s first album is not really saying too much, unfortunately.

But then we’re up to “Just Like a Pill,” which is one of those tracks which is simultaneously downbeat and yet compelling—not pretty, like most of her other slow songs.  “Feel Good Time” is a bit weird, in that it almost sounds like an electropop song, which is again a bit of a departure for P!nk.  And that takes us to “True Love,” which is the best song on the latest album, with some more great lyrics:

At the same time I wanna hug you, I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You’re an asshole, but I love you, and you make me so mad I ask myself
Why I’m still here, or where could I go, you’re the only love I’ve ever known
But I hate you, I really hate you, so much I think it must be
True love ...

“18 Wheeler” is pretty strong too, “Bad Influence” perhaps a bit less so, then “Fingers,” which I absolutely adore.  Then another slow song, then “Boring” provides our volume title, and a hook that won’t let your brain forget it any time soon.  Then coming back down for “Waiting for Love” and the sweet “Conversations with My 13 Year Old Self” heads us towards the close.

In the P!nk II
    [You're Gonna Have to Catch Me]

        “Get the Party Started” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Stupid Girls” by P!nk, off I'm Not Dead
        “God Is a DJ” by P!nk, off Try This
        “This Is How It Goes Down” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “Do What U Do” by P!nk, off Can't Take Me Home
        “Just Like a Pill” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Feel Good Time” by P!nk, off Try This
        “True Love” by P!nk, off The Truth about Love
        “18 Wheeler” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Bad Influence” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “Fingers” by P!nk, off I'm Not Dead
        “Family Portrait” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Boring” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “Waiting for Love” by P!nk, off Try This
        “Conversations with My 13 Year Old Self” by P!nk, off I'm Not Dead
        “Mean” by P!nk, off Funhouse
        “M!ssundaztood” by P!nk, off M!ssundaztood
        “Humble Neighbourhood” by P!nk, off Try This
        “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” by P!nk, off The Truth about Love
Total:  19 tracks,  74:34

“Mean” has a bit of a country twang, like “Beam Me Up,” but with more redeeming value perhaps.  The title track from M!zzundaztood is not a party song, but I’ve always felt it was very strong.  “Humble Neighborhood” is more of a traditional rocker than you expect from P!nk, which makes its guitar licks even more delicious.  And we close out the show with “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” which lyrically works for a closer but leaves us on a strong note.

So that’s my take on a “best of” compilation for P!nk ... note I don’t say “greatest hits,” as that’s something else entirely.  Many of my favorite P!nk songs were never hits.  Comparing my set list to P!nk’s actual greatest hits album, Greatest Hits ... So Far!!!, I leave out 5 “hits.”  The only one I even waffled over was “Dear Mr. President,” her duet (triette?) with the Indigo Girls.  I almost threw it in despite not caring for it that much, but in the end, it’s just too sappy and over-obvious.  She’s better than that.  (I dislike “My Vietnam” for the same reason.)  The official greatest hits also throws in two original songs, which I didn’t have access to, but I have an entire extra album to work with, as Greatest Hits ... So Far!!! was released in between Funhouse and The Truth about Love.  So we have 11 songs in common, but I throw in an extra 28 on top of that.  Now, who’s giving you more bang for the buck?  I think you know.

I put this mix together primarily in the last 3 days or so, although I had started earlier and had gone through 3 of the 6 albums already.  But, as Mother’s Day approached, I realized that I really needed to shoot for completion by today.  Partially because I’d been promising her I’d burn her something for ages and I needed to stop being a lame-ass.  But also because she’s The Mother, and she deserves it.

And also because P!nk is friggin’ cool.  I’m so looking forward to having my kids learn that too.

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