In 2019, who is P!nk? One of the defining voices in Pop music from the past 2 decades, she’s a part time dancer, part time pop hit machine and full time aerial acrobat in her elaborate stage shows. She’s a born performer, that’s clear to see, but as someone who could name about 30 P!nk songs that he loves, I couldn’t place any of her full length album releases anywhere close to the quality of her contemporaries.
Yet to crack the album, the often exceptional Missundaztood and The Truth About Love are the closest she has come. You couldn’t tell by looking at sales numbers though, all 7 of her previous albums have sold upwards of 3 million copies worldwide. That includes Beautiful Trauma, released just a year and a half ago, it’s the album she is set to tour here in the UK a month from now. Hurts 2B Human’s release isn’t just strange because it comes so soon after another album, but because it barely sounds like an album at all.
The 13 songs here share one thing and one thing only, the writing and vocal talents of Alecia Moore. It’s one hell of a voice still for sure, it’s hard to hear a song like Courage and wish that P!nk would deliver more vocally and emotionally, while Circle Game features some of her most personal songwriting in years, talking frankly about how she sees herself in her daughter.
There’s plenty here that I really do enjoy. It’s just a shame Hurst 2B Human sounds like a covers album.
P!nk was surely in a collaborative mood when writing everything here; Nate Ruess on Walk Me Home, Khalid on Hurts 2B Human, Sia on Courage, Wrabel on 90 Days, Julia Michaels on My Attic, Imagine Dragon’s Dan Reynolds on Hustle, Max Martin on (Hey Why) Miss You Sometime, Beck on We Could Have It All, Greg Kurstin on Circle Game, Ryan Tedder and Cash Cash on Can We Pretend and Chris Stapleton on Love Me Anyway. There are literally 2 songs I didn’t mention in that list, but the disparity between writers, producers and styles on every single song here is so jarring.
There are highlights We Could Have It All is the one glimpse we get at P!nk in her most feisty and powerful rock mould, while the 3 duets on the album all succeed for blending voices together with increasingly more impact. Love Me Anyway could be a painfully saccharine country ballad, but once the always terrific Chris Stapleton starts to harmonize it becomes a heartbreaking moment on an otherwise confused record. Walk Me Home may as well be another Greatest Showman cover from the woman who made me go from loving, to hating, to loving, back to hating A Million Dreams last year.
If every track matched these heights I could probably see past the messiness of everything, but most of the songs here make me question even more why Hurts 2B Human even exists.
Courage doesn’t just sound like Sia’s Unstoppable, I’m pretty sure it was an alternate version of that song, while the impossibly generic (Hey Why) Miss You Sometime surely can’t be from the same writing team that gave us P!nk classics U + Ur Hand, Raise Your Glass and Fuckin’ Perfect.
Everything comes to a head on Can We Pretend, a dance record that could literally be sung by anyone, about anything at any time in the last 3 years. Some could describe it as a basic bop, but I refuse to believe the same woman who is so authentically herself in every interview, performance and previous song could be happy with a song as painfully bland and predictable as this.
It sums up the biggest problem that Hurts 2B Human has perfectly, by working with so many people to produce a single body of work, not a single second sounds anything like P!nk. I was baffled that this album existed when it was announced and after spending the last few weeks with it, I’m even more baffled.
Words by Sam Atkins.