Music, News & Commentary

Pink – the all-American bogan

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Australia’s love affair with Pink is a pretty intense thing. We know that she’s been breaking records with tours here since 2006 (last year, she played 46 dates across the country) and that her albums have always gone to the top of the ARIA charts. But the rapturous affair reached an incredible new height when ARIA released their end-of-year charts this week, with Pink having the highest selling album of the year. Again. With the same album. The Truth About Love, released in 2012, has now sold over 560,000 copies in Australia.
So what is it exactly about Pink that captures our hearts? And why has she never achieved the same super stardom in the US? Her career trajectory is a little like a more impressive version of Suzi Quatro’s – a rough and tough American pop-rock chick with commercial hits who made it far bigger in Australia than at home.
I don’t think it’s the quality of her songs; she knows how to write a solid pop-hook and lyrics that tread the line between sentimental and silly (U + Ur Hand, So What, Blow Me (One Last Kiss) etc.), but not many have reached a truly iconic status. Her singles are all so radio-friendly, and, let’s face it, safe, that they really don’t require fans to listen closely enough to take a song that deeply into their hearts.
And I don’t think we’ve fallen for her voice; not many people go to a Pink concert for spectacular vocals. Though I do think she happens to have one of the most underrated voices in pop music. It’s certainly distinctive, and seeing her in concert will leave you with no doubt that it’s a powerful, soulful and technically secure instrument (can she do a one-off concert of acoustic blues classics, please?).
Pink2It’s probably that deep-down, Pink is an all-American bogan. With her ugg boots, boozing, swearing, and her heavily tattoed, motorcross husband, would she really feel all that out of place in the ‘burbs of any Aussie city?
I first saw her live back in 2002 when she was just making a name for herself, at Austereo’s ill-fated Rumba festival (does anyone else remember Rumba?). She ran onstage wearing a VB singlet and loose-fitting white jeans and did her best impromptu rock-chick music festival act. By the end of her set, the audience was begging for more, but the organisers insisted that she couldn’t perform an encore, because Shaggy, who was co-headlining with Bon Jovi (yes, a world once existed where Pink was Shaggy’s support act) was due onstage.
It was hardly the kind of glossy extravaganza we’ve come to expect from her now, but the attitude remains the same. Unlike many of her pop diva contemporaries, Pink doesn’t live in an untouchable space. The relationship between Pink and her audience is more like a group of friends than the Queen and her subjects. I can’t imagine Pink ever singing a lyric like Beyonce does on her latest album in ***Flawless: “I know when you were little girls/ You dreamt of being in my world/ Don’t forget it, don’t forget it/ Respect that, bow down bitches.”
Pink’s down-to-earthness works perfectly for an Australian audience. We don’t have the kind of hero-worship that exists in America. Instead, we’ve long had a vicious tall poppy syndrome. If somebody asserts their superiority (especially a woman, it seems) in any way, we’re quick to rip them down. So how has Pink, with all the success she’s amassed, managed to stay in our good books?
Well, Pink has never asserted her superiority, which allows her audience to dream that they might one day be up onstage, doing exactly what Pink is doing. Because if our good, old (bogan) friend Pink can make a name for herself and make good, surely we can too, right?
It’s a little delusional, really. There probably is something more genuine about a pop star conducting themselves with the “keep dreaming, you’ll never be me” attitude. But hey, who doesn’t want to invite Pink around to the backyard for a VB and a barbeque? Maybe she’ll pull the guitar out and grace us with some tunes? It’ll never happen, but we can keep dreaming.

2 responses to “Pink – the all-American bogan

  1. Pink is absolutely great. She is self-mocking, which is so much a feature of Australian humour. Self-deprecation, fun lyrics and danceable music. What more can a poor boy want?

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