Prior to the release of I’m Not Dead (2006) I didn’t care much for Pink musically. I was certainly aware of her growing popularity of the back of her worldwide #1 single Get The Party Started in 2001. By 2006, Pink had released her fourth album I’m Not Dead, reaching Top 10 charts around the world, and in the process establishing a truly loyal following here in Australia. Australia would come to love Pink, and Pink’s affection for Australia would be reciprocated. Interestingly, in 2009 Pink broke John Farnham’s record when she played 17 shows in Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on her Funhouse tour. Fast forward to 2013 and she broke her own record with 18 shows at the same venue.
It’s fair to say the combination of rock, pop and R&B with the heavy emphasis of guitars and thumping drums on I’m Not Dead, convinced me that Pennsylvanian Alecia Beth Moore was a force to be reckoned with. In short, the tantalising shift away from synths and hip-hop of her earlier records certainly pleased me and would set the benchmark for the amazing run of hits and albums that followed.
It is said with the commercial failure of Try This (2003), Pink was hoping to recapture listener’s ears with more of a radio-friendly album. In a clear message to critics and fans Pink’s punk rock outing on I’m Not Dead was exactly what she needed to do to bounce back. And bounce back she did!
I’m Not Dead was a solid return for Pink that played on almost all her strengths as a trend-setting artist. Her voice soars on I’m Not Dead and the assortment of rock arrangements and ballads are epic and pleasing to hear. The emphasis on electric guitars and the subtle use of piano also gave fans a baseline of familiarity that we would come to later expect and associate with future albums such as Funhouse (2008) and The Truth About Love (2012).
It’s interesting that Pink chose Stupid Girl as the lead single for the album. As a non-conformist, Pink takes a judgemental swipe at celebrity culture. It is cheeky in delivery, something that I really like about Pink, especially her willingness to poke fun at situations and herself in the music video for the song. Interestingly, the similar style and fun on Stupid Girl is replicated on U And Ur Hand as she mocks men and makes reference to masturbation.
Pink of course has still more to say on angsty tracks like Leave Me Alone (I’m Only). Lyrics include contradictory lines like “Leave me the fuck alone/ Tomorrow I’ll be beggin’ you to come home”. While on Cuz I Can Pink is throwing her wealth and status in our face. While it’s not meant to be taken literally it exemplifies Pink’s unpredictability to fuck with us. Personal I quite like her early song warning “Yeah I talk shit just deal with it”. It sets it up nicely to make it a really fun song.
Occasionally the progression from loud to the album’s gentler moments is needed for us to draw breath. For me it is best demonstrated on the rousing and empowering ballad Nobody Knows where Pink showcases her powerful vocals and presence. Equally beautiful is her stripped down open letter to George Bush on Dear Mr. President making references to things like homelessness and the Iraqi war. (Pink more recently named Dear Mr. President in her top five best songs she has ever written.)
While not a ballad Long Way To Happy cuts close to home for Pink as she addresses sexual abuse. It’s easy to see why this song in particular resonates with Pink’s strong female audience, as it highlights what Pink does best: take a heavy subject matter and make it socially relevant. To this day Pink continues to share her life through song all the while pushing forward strong social messages that help her exorcise her own demons.
Fun fact: The album was allegedly originally titled Long Way To Happy, after the song of the same name, but Pink apparently changed her mind months prior to the release of the album. She instead thought I’m Not Dead had more of an impact because the album was in a sense a reawakening both creatively and emotionally. The album’s title was in essence letting critics and fans know she was back again stronger than ever.
There’s no discounting the strength of the songs on I’m Not Dead. The six singles released from the album enjoyed varying degrees of success on international charts. Australian fans in particular couldn’t get enough of Pink’s infectious pop which saw the album peak at #1 on the ARIA albums chart in 2006. Interestingly from the assortment of songs on the album (and depending on who you ask) I believe the most celebrated track of Pink’s long career is found here. It is the mid-tempo Who Knew with its melodic guitar, thumbing drums and orchestral score. It is easily my favourite Pink song of all-time despite it heavy sentiment. The lyrics of course speak about the metaphorical death of friendship: “You took my hand/You showed me how/You promised me you’d be around/Uh-huh, that’s right”. Moreover I really believe the ambiguity of the lyrics allow it to take on different meanings for listeners to relate it to their own life. This is the power of Pink!