P!nk - Beautiful Trauma
by Srinandini Mukherjee
While I have never bothered to listen to an entire P!nk album before, I have always thought of her as an admirable example of all that good pop music can potentially be. With her striking lyrics, impressive vocals, and catchy melodies on tracks like Raise Your Glass, Try, and Perfect, I had high expectations from her latest album, Beautiful Trauma. To sum it up in one line, even though it’s not as powerful as I was hoping for, P!nk doesn’t disappoint.
The titular song starts off the album on a pretty good note. It’s all the things we love about P!nk – she sounds as powerful as ever, and the lyrics describing an unhealthy yet happy relationship are decent. Interestingly, in this song, as well as several others on the album, the music is slightly more electronic than her previous albums, probably in an attempt to fit in with the rise of EDM, but its use in this song in particular adds to the sense of dissonance between the pain and the pleasure in the relationship P!nk is describing. The most well-known track of the album, What About Us also relies on the electronic element, but uses it pretty well, giving the song an uplifting, if slightly unoriginal vibe. The artist also shows her strengths with more of the inspiring, motivating songs she is known for, such as I Am Here, which illustrates enjoying every moment of life to the fullest, and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, which encourages fighting for what you believe in, with powerful lyrics like, “To want my share is not a sin” and “My freedom is burning / This broken world keeps turning”.
In spite of the pretty decent use of electronic music in this album, I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of it: catchy as it is, in some cases it overpowers the artist’s vocals and takes away some importance from the lyrics, which, as expected from P!nk, are pretty memorable and original consistently throughout the album, rather than a filler. Where We Go is one such song, which gives P!nk a Rita Ora-like vibe, minimising the emotion in what could have been a moving track about an unhappy relationship. Another weakness in this album is P!nk occasionally changing the key within a song, probably in an effort to keep her tunes original. While I appreciate the attempt towards preventing pop music fans from hearing the same tune over and over again, tracks like Whatever You Want changes key so forcefully as to sound dissonant, which distracts from P!nk’s fantastic vocals and makes it more forgettable. Her collaboration with Eminem is a light, comical take on post-breakup anger - while it’s fun to listen to once or twice, there’s nothing really standout about it.
P!nk has an incredible voice, and she knows it. She definitely shows off her voice at every chance in Beautiful Trauma, and it pays off. Some of the best songs on the album are those which rely on minimal acoustic backing, and highlight her talent. But We Lost It and Better Life, both of which describe a souring relationship, and Barbies, which is about nostalgia for childhood, are impactful tracks which stand out from the more heavily-instrumented songs on the album. Needless to say, the lyrics of these songs, such as “I see it on my father’s face / Another line that comes with age / I know that time will have its way / Where did it all go?” (Barbies) are also more noticeable and moving, which strengthen the tracks further. The closing track, You Get My Love is intended to showcase P!nk’s voice the most, and successfully does so, as she effortlessly alternates between two octaves in the verse and the chorus.
While this album might not be the most memorable one P!nk has ever produced, it retains her place in the pop music industry as an icon with a strong voice and lyrics to match - besides the catchy tunes, that’s what pop music should be about.