Review Summary: Cut loose to do her own thing, Pink fulfils the flashes of potential shown on her debut, improving on almost every facet of her compositions.
Right from the very beginning of Pink’s 2nd album, it is apparent that she has something to say. Overlooking the gimmicky spelling of the album and opening song title, she wants the world to realize that the perception conveyed on her debut LP ‘Can’t Take Me Home’ was not the real Pink. She was, in fact, misunderstood. While initially remaining a little mysterious about the subject (the first lyrics to be heard on the gimmicky, but melodic, opener are “I might be the way everybody likes to say, I know what you’re thinking about me”), it doesn’t take at all long for this 22 year old to be more direct.
In what is coincidentally the 2nd verse of the 2nd track and also 2nd single ‘Don’t Let Me Get Me’, Pink tellingly sings the following lyrics: “L.A told me you’ll be a pop star, all you have to change is everything you are”, before going on to tell the world that “I’m tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears, she’s so pretty, that just ain’t me”. The “L.A” referred to on the former line is pop / contemporary R&B producer extraordinaire L.A Reid, who has nothing to do with producing this much more mature release. And thank goodness for that.
Lyrics similar to those already quoted are used throughout this album, even if they are not all quite as literate and direct as that example. It brings a much more personal feeling to the listening experience, with Pink suggesting that she is not as confident as the sassy exterior suggests. ‘Don’t Let Me Get Me’ goes on to proclaim “Everyday I fight a war against the mirror, I can’t take the person staring back at me, I’m a hazard to myself”. Following track and 3rd single ‘Just Like A Pill’ then hints at the performer’s teenage drug abuse. Just as importantly as the lyrical content though, these 2 cuts which Pink co-wrote with Dallas Austin are accessibly poppy and catchy, resulting in both going Top 10 in the U.K and U.S!
Elsewhere, Pink has chosen her co-writers and producers exceptionally well, as can be seen on the two slower album highlights ‘Family Portrait’ and ‘Lonely Girl’. Canadian Scott Storch is at the helm of the former, which is a super impressive personal cut detailing the break-up of her parents from the perspective of a child. Its effective use of simple and natural family-life happenings is exquisite and it is topped off nicely by the choir-like vocals of children in the breakdown.
The predominant co-writer and producer on this album though is Linda Perry, a name some may recognize as lead singer of the band 4 Non Blondes. With track 11, the overlooked and under-rated ‘Lonely Girl’, she also lends her voice to a song which details Pink’s occasional inability to handle the pressures of fame. Containing a clever and excellent sing-along chorus where Pink answer’s Perry’s questions, this is quite simply the singer’s best vocal performance of her entire career!
It is not all slow and serious going though, as 1st single ‘Get The Party Started’ proves. As the song title suggests, this is the dance-oriented party-starter that the artist’s debut album lacked. While elsewhere, a thicker fuller sound musically helps lend greater quality to solid album tracks such as ’18 Wheeler’ and ‘Numb’. It seems that Pink has simply improved on the weaknesses apparent on ‘Can’t Take Me Home’. Even the bordering on man-bashing lyrics littered throughout her debut is adjusted to be more of a strong defiant female stance, as can be seen on track 5 ‘Respect’.
The only weakness carried over from the debut is over-length. At 14 tracks and 55 minutes long, it is ultimately impossible to keep the quality up right to the very end of ‘Missundaztood’. The bluesy ballad ‘Misery’ is an interesting collaboration with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler that simply turns into a warble-fest. ‘Dear Diary’ and ‘Gone To California’ are ok for something different, but only one was required. While Pink still still doesn’t quite get the super-slow ballad right on track 10 ‘Eventually’. Thankfully, in addition to ‘Lonely Girl’ being on the latter half of the album, ‘Missundaztood’ also comes with effective closer ‘My Vietnam’. In the same vein as ‘Family Portrait’, it uses an interesting metaphor in amongst very good lyrics and a sample of Jimi Hendrix’s version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ to close it out.
Cut loose to do her own thing, Pink fulfils the flashes of potential shown on her debut with this excellent follow-up release. Predominantly learning from the many weaknesses which littered ‘Can’t Take Me Home’, Pink has improved on almost every facet of her compositions here. While containing more than a sufficient amount of the poppy elements heard previously, ‘Missundaztood’ includes a superior overall dynamic through better live instrumentation, much-improved lyrics and more emotional & diverse vocals. No wonder ‘Missundaztood’ has sold over 13 million copies worldwide!
Recommended Tracks: Lonely Girl, Family Portrait, Get The Party Started & Don’t Let Me Get Me.