Critical Voices: Pink, Beautiful Trauma

October 20, 2017

From start to finish, Pink’s latest album Beautiful Trauma is a proud declaration that she has matured but hasn’t lost a single ounce of the unapologetic brashness that put her on the map.

Beautiful Trauma is singer-songwriter Pink (P!nk)’s seventh studio album. Although her last album release was in 2012 with The Truth About Love, she was by no means on a break. In 2014, she released an album, rose ave., as folk duo You+Me with Dallas Green, also known by his alias, City and Colour. She wrote and performed a new theme song for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, “Today’s the Day” that was used beginning in 2015’s 13th season onward, and she also performed “Just Like Fire” from the 2016 Tim Burton movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass.

The title track “Beautiful Trauma” opens as a slow crooner backed by a simple piano arrangement and drops to a peppy verse carried by a pulsing electro beat. Pink sings candidly about her toxic relationship with her husband and professional motocross racer, Carey Hart. She acknowledges their tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship with the lines “You punched a hole in/ The wall and I framed it.” It’s no secret that Hart inspired her 2008 break-up anthem “So What?” – he stars in the music video as himself – and in 2012, Pink admitted to once slashing Hart’s tires. Though the overall message of her album is to hold on to the beauty hidden in life’s trauma, the power ballad is a thinly veiled romanization of a toxic relationship. That said, “Beautiful Trauma” is exactly the kind of rebellious, electro-pop anthem that Pink is known for.

“Revenge” is a teasing piece with a simplistic, old school funk inspired beat. Singing and rapping alongside Eminem, Pink plots the demise of an ex. Eminem plays the role of her ex-significant other, making snide remarks about her friends and interjecting “Slut!.” It’s a bit of a jarring duet, but the juxtaposition of the lackadaisical tune and the harsh lyrics is right at the intersection of playful and uncomfortable that Pink herself is so comfortable dancing around.

Beautiful Trauma plays around with a plethora of different sounds, yet manages to remain completely cohesive as an album. Dreamy tracks like “Whatever You Want” and “Secrets” are reminiscent of early 2000s Pink, while “I Am Here” is a funky, tambourine-powered gospel fusion pop hoedown anthem. “What About Us,” the first single released off of this album, is the pop banger that’s sure to stick around the airwaves, but “Where We Go” and “Better Life” are the carefree soundtracks to your everyday life. The musical arrangements themselves aren’t terribly complex, but they simply create the framework to be filled by Pink’s vocals. Pink is able to inject such a vulnerability and poignancy into her vocals that make each song absolutely captivating. Pink has one of the most impressive ranges in the industry, and a weaker vocalist wouldn’t be able to elevate the simplistic arrangements the way that she does. The arrangements are at the same time fresh but familiar, but they take the backseat, letting her vocals be the real star of the album.

As part of the older generation of pop singers, Pink might not find grounding amongst young girls the way that Katy Perry or Taylor Swift do. After all, Can’t Take Me Home, her debut album, came out in 2000, six years before Swift’s Taylor Swift and eight years before Perry’s One of the Boys. That said, longtime fans of Pink will find Beautiful Trauma to be a fabulous complement and continuation to The Truth About Love with a mellower, more mature sound.

Unabashed and androgynous, Pink has always been a breath of fresh air in the music industry. Time and time again, her work has proved her to be a vocal powerhouse that’s here to stay, and her latest album is no exception. Strong yet vulnerable, unyielding but tender, Pink is fearless and unafraid of laying herself bare for the world to witness. While it might not conform to the pop hits crowding the radio waves today, Beautiful Trauma is the memoir of an unashamed woman dancing on ahead on the path she’s carved out for herself.

Voice’s Choices: “Beautiful Trauma,” “Where We Go,” “I Am Here”

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