Review Summary: Debut release gets Pink noticed & showcases her potential, but is let down by repetitiveness, insufficient standouts, unoriginal production and an overlong weak 2nd half.
The business world suggests that it is wise to target an unconquered audience rather than one with established competitors. The music world is no different and executive producers L.A Reid & Babyface knew that. In 1999, blonde teenagers Britney Spears & Christina Aguilera had successful debut albums which won over teenage pop fans looking for something new & catchy. Come the year 2000, there was really no point in competing against the Britney juggernaut which was about to release her smash 2nd album ‘Oops!... I Did It Again’. What was required was something just a little different… Something pinker!
Bursting onto a not too dissimilar scene, 20 year old Alecia Moore would come with the moniker of Pink. Why? Because she had noticeable pink hair for a gimmick. But it was not just hair color which differentiated Pink from the likes of Britney & Christina. She is a sassy & attitude-filled young lady and this came to the forefront on her debut album ‘Can’t Take Me Home’. Ultimately targeting the demographic of teenagers who not only wanted their pop more dance and contempory R&B-oriented, but also tougher and grittier, the release ultimately hit its mark with two Top 10 singles and over 2 million copies sold.
As can be seen by just the 2nd line of gimmicky opener ‘Split Personality’, where Pink sings “Can’t No Man Be Trusted”, a number of tracks on this debut take the “woman scorned” approach to the theme of relationship breakdowns. And for whatever reason, this is clearly where Pink appears most comfortable. On cuts such as track 2 ‘Hell Wit Ya’ and breakthrough lead single ‘There You Go’, she convincingly tells efficient stories that are involving, if not always likeable. Of course, being a variation on pop music, both are effectively catchy. This is especially the case with the latter’s smooth up-tempo delivery of the chorus, which helped it go Top 10 in both the U.S and U.K.
However, the most successful single released from ‘Can’t Take Me Home’ (reaching Top 5 in both the U.S & U.K) was actually ‘Most Girls’. This is noteworthy as in addition to being a safer mid-tempo track, it could appeal to a greater audience due to another catchy chorus which this time almost uncharacteristically asserts that this tough girl simply wants “real love”.
Pink’s vocals are very interesting and in a fashion are both her strength and weakness all in one. There is a controlled low-key nature to it which is both likeable and strangely alluring. It is a seemingly mature voice, but is it that way to help mask deficiencies and (contradictorily) immaturity? No matter what the reason, it unfortunately leads to too many of the 13 tracks included here ending up as nothing but solid chorus-reliant album tracks rather than anything too outstanding. See 3rd single ‘You Make Me Sick’, ‘Private Show’ and the once more gimmicky ‘Hiccup’ for examples of this.
Furthermore, the latter half of the album sees Pink attempting to add some variety via 3 or 4 slower cuts. Unfortunately, she does this unconvincingly as she simply does not have the strongest voice. She does not disgrace herself though and the songs themselves must take some blame as they are pretty much by-the numbers stuff. The best of the lot is probably track 7 ‘Love Is Such a Crazy Thing’, simply due to its impressive harmonies and effective use of piano. It is a real shame then that it has to be partially spoiled with an annoying synth-generated robotic background loop. In fact, most of the slower songs here fall victim to the same problem, adding an unwelcome plastic fakeness to them.
While the team of L.A Reid & Babyface has an exellent track-record producing such albums, one has to question whether or not Pink is the right artist for the team. Too often, it is apparent that her voice is more suited to sound better in front of live instruments, as opposed to the unoriginal and predominantly unimpressive programmed drum machines & synths here. And while there are clearly dance-oriented aspirations with ‘Can’t Take Me Home’, no track genuinely cuts loose into a party or dance-floor anthem. The closest would in fact be the title track, but the subject matter limits its appeal as Pink warns the opposite sex with a chorus of “Can’t take me home to momma, Coz she wouldn’t think I’m proper, Should have thought about that before you f**ked with me. Don’t say you’re falling for me, don’t tell me you adore me, Coz all you’re thinking about is f**king me”.
While ‘Can’t Take Me Home’ cannot be rated too highly, it is an effective enough debut as it gets Pink noticed and also showcases the potential talent that she has as a predominantly pop singer with enough twists to distinguish her from the pack. Not really immediate, a number of the songs will make their mark after repeated listens. However, as a whole, there are insufficient standouts, too many similar cuts and this front-loaded album is overlong at 13 tracks, meaning that it really does lose a lot of its appeal towards the end.
Recommended Tracks: There You Go, Most Girls & Love Is Such A Crazy Thing.