euphoria as illness
man vs. fly

music friday: p!nk, “fuckin’ perfect”

P!nk introduced her latest single and video on her website with a “Personal Note.” She wrote:

My favorite books, art pieces, films, and music, always have something jarring about them. I want art to make me think. In order to do that, it may piss me off, or make me uncomfortable. That promotes awareness and change, or at least some discussion. That is my intention. You can't move mountains by whispering at them.

It’s no accident that she talks about art in the above quote, nor is it accidental that she includes herself as part of the discussion. The Pop Star As Artist … not Artiste, something more down home.

It’s a bit of a puzzle for those of who are long-time fans, how despite her popularity, P!nk never seems to be at the top of anyone’s lists for best this or best that. Perhaps it’s because she’s hard to pin down. Her confessional approach, which first emerged with her zillion-selling Missundaztood, allows her to range from cocky fuck-yous to damaged ballads … both represent aspects of her personality. (The best example might be “So What,” a kiss-off to her husband … when she made the accompanying video, he starred as the jilted lover, and in real life, they reconciled and are now expecting their first child.)

P!nk isn’t the same person who spilled her guts about her adolescence. Now, she’s 31 and pregnant … I’m reminded of Chrissie Hynde in “Middle of the Road” singing “I’m not the cat I used to be, I’ve got a kid, I’m 33.” But that same person still lives inside her, and it prompts songs like “Fuckin’ Perfect”:

I support the kids out there that feel so desperate/numb/powerless, that feel unseen and unheard, and can't see another way.. I want them to know I'm aware. I have been there. I see them.
Sometimes that's all it takes.

When she raises her glass to the woman played by Tina Majorino in the video, she is acknowledging the connection between herself and her audience. Ann Powers wrote a fine comparison of this single and the new one from Avril Lavigne, mentioning an interview Ann had done with P!nk last year:

[She] justifies her return visits to Max Martin’s hit factory in part by insisting that her buying public is a community. … P!nk kept returning to the subject of her fans, and her decision to focus as much on touring as on recording because she recognizes that the loyalty of real people sustains her in ways the payoffs of product placement do not. … P!nk has compassion. It’s in the bluish purple swoop of her voice on a ballad; it’s one of her driving motivations, and it’s something that makes her different from maybe half of her diva/starlet competitors these days. … It is sign of her genius … that this late in her career P!nk has figured out how to be both a brat and a grown-up lady, and to ride that combination to the top of the charts.

There is an emotional edginess to much of P!nk’s work, an edginess that most definitely shows up in the video for “Fuckin’ Perfect.” It is, at times, almost unbearable to watch. But the chorus offers hope through an understanding companionship: “Pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel like you’re nothing, you’re fucking perfect to me.”

Making this video was a very emotional experience for me, as was writing this song. I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms. And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well. There are good people in this world that are open-minded, and loving. There are those that accept us with all of our flaws. I do that with my fans/friends, and I will do that with my child, whoever they decide to be.

Here’s a song from earlier in her career. It addresses some of the above … “I’m a hazard to myself,” she sings, “I’m my own worst enemy … I wanna be somebody else.” This is the P!nk who can relate to “the kids out there” … she “has been there.” And the video is truly remarkable. For most of the song, she runs through her litany of problems, reminding us that she has wanted to be somebody else for a long time. But then she hits the stage (for a “welcome back” appearance at her old high school), and suddenly, she is the somebody else that the people in the audience want to be. As she sings, she morphs into various fans … she becomes them, she gets to be somebody else, and they become her, they are somebody else, as well, and everyone is everyone. They “accept with all our flaws.”

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