Remember when Kesha removed the dollar sign from her name? It gave her a bit more cred as a serious artist, making her seem less like a flash-in-the-pan novelty act. But Pink has always stylised herself as P!nk. It complemented her image as a punky upstart and fit the rebellious spirit of the early noughties, but now, it feels kind of out of place. There’s something embarrassingly juvenile about the exclamation mark, it no longer feeling congruous with Pink’s image that has become increasingly muted and mainstream over time. And while Pink’s name has remained firmly stuck in the past, so too have the recurring themes in her music.
With her new track, the title song from upcoming album Beautiful Trauma, Pink is still revelling in messy youthful fantasies.
A recurring theme in Pink’s music is dreadful men. Only, half the time, Pink doesn’t seem to realise just how dreadful these men are. On ‘Beautiful Trauma’, she coos over a guy who ‘punched a hole in a wall’, before deciding the hole is worthy of being framed. Instead of backing away from a guy who sounds like an awful thug, she instead marvels at his emotion with the line “I wish I could feel things like you.” It’s a weird spin to put on a violent outburst and smacks of a deeply unhealthy relationship.
But Pink admits she’s just as much of a trouble maker, confessing to slashing the bloke’s tires and later threatening to ‘fuck up a hotel lobby’. While this reckless abandon in pursuit of true love might have piqued a certain interest a few albums ago, it’s massively lost its appeal in the intervening years, Pink’s chaotic exploits now sounding more symptomatic of a genuine personality disorder than a bout of lovesickness.
Lyrically, ‘Beautiful Trauma’ is clunky and predictable. No one wants to hear the phrase ‘my perfect rock bottom’ unless it’s in reference to some gym stud’s backside, but using it to refer to a guy you’re supposedly in love with is deeply unflattering at best and just a really shoddy lyric at worst. Musically, there isn’t much to like here either, the arrangement formulaic and boringly Pink. A surging pre-chorus reminiscent of the best tracks off Taylor Swift’s 1989 briefly threatens to make things interesting, but quickly fizzles out to give way to a slow, painfully dull chorus.
If ‘Beautiful Trauma’ as a track is representative of Beautiful Trauma as an album, we can expect a record of sloppy half-ballads and tired cliches. I can think of many good ways to pass forty minutes, but listening to Pink’s comeback album is dropping further and further down the list.