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Is Pink A Rock Star?

2 May 2023 | 3:51 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

This column certainly suggests that she is.

(Pic by Ryan Aylsworth)

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Tom Breihan, an author and The Number Ones columnist (and Senior Editor) at Stereogum, has posted the latest article in his long-running series of reviewing every #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, and the latest is So What by P!nk.

Like every entry of The Number Ones, Breihan explores the history behind the #1 single – in this case, it’s the history of P!nk and her partner, Carey Hart, how long So What stayed in the top spot (one week), and observations of the single’s impact and how it affected the career trajectory of P!nk.

What’s interesting about the So What entry of The Number Ones, and the reason for this article, is Breihan’s argument: What does a rock star look and sound like, anyway? Is P!nk a rock star?

Breihan notes P!nk’s penchant for provoking and challenging artists and the music industry and called her a “husky-voiced growler of hard emotional truths”. Then there’s the mention of Just Like A Pill and working with Dallas Austin (TLC, Boyz II Men) – P!nk’s “making pop songs with rock producers and rock songs with pop producers.”

So What was created with the most successful producer in pop music of the last two decades: Max Martin (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry), as well as his collaborator, Karl Johan Schuster, aka Shellback, who came up in black metal in the songwriting pair’s native Sweden.

Breihan writes, “P!nk sells the whole song with gusto. She sounds great, leaning hard into the raspy and Pat Benatar-esque grain of her voice. You have to act to sing a song like So What.” What do you think? Is P!nk a rock star?

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Read Tom Breihan’s article on So What here.

Demi Lovato, whose music and acting career began on Disney Channel, has stretched to pop-punk and emo on her eighth album, last year’s Holy Fvck. She quickly proved that no matter a singer’s beginnings, if you have a flair for rock music, following that path sounds natural.

Her current collaborator, ex-Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss, recently discussed the gatekeeping that she feels goes on within metal audiences, while Lovato’s music moves are widely supported by pop music listeners.

“The cool thing that I found is that Demi changed her entire style. She changed her clothing, her musical style and she reworked all her huge hits,” Strauss said in a new interview on the Full Metal Jackie radio show.

Strauss added, “She has a song Cool For The Summer that has billions of Spotify plays and she did a full-on rock version with a little Metallica thrown in there for good measure. And the fans loved it. The fans supported her and absolutely screamed their faces off until the end of the show. There was no pushback.

“There was no, ‘This is not what you’re supposed to sound like. This isn’t what we signed up for. We want the old Demi back…’ type gatekeeping that we see in the style of music that we’re more used to.” Check out the full interview here.