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P!nk
Funhouse
La Face Records
www.pinkspage.com


It would be fair to say that when Alecia Moore, better known under her stagename P!nk, burst onto the music scene roughly eight years ago few would have thought that she would have lasted past her debut disc Can't Take Me Home. With slick R&B numbers and a bonafide attitude, P!nk's first foray was decent, but definitely not the career-defining debut that promises an artist a long and prosperous career. But as the years progressed and the singer produced more top ten hits and multi-platinum albums, she began to defy the odds. Even after her third disc, Try This, failed to produce any major commercial singles, she bounced back with I'm Not Dead, which redifined the singer as a force to be reckoned with in the music world. With her spotlight reaffirmed and her boxing gloves in place, P!nk is now back in form to take over pop radio with her latest release Funhouse.

First single "So What" has already claimed the top crown on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but the punky and snotty tune is more of the minority on this new album. Known for her off-the-wall songs and unorthodox lyrics (see 2006's "Stupid Girls"), P!nk's albums always dance the line between crazy and funky and the morose and heavy-handed. Funhouse's title comes across as slightly ironic, for there seems to be little fun taking place throughout the 12 tracks.

Focusing largely on the personal hardships faced during the singer's recent divorce from motorcross start Carey Hart, the sadness in P!nk's heart has made itself all too present. But as always, P!nk makes sure that the sticky melancholy sap that has all too often clogged the ears of her peers stays far away from her ballads. The blues-inspired "Mean" is brutal honesty served in a piping hot package. "Crystal Ball" is an acoustic gem that calls to mind Stevie Nicks with penetrating lyrics and the beautiful rasp that has made P!nk's voice all her own. And the battling of her own position on the divorce volleys between tracks "It's All Your Fault" and "Please Don't Leave Me" - one minute she's apologetic, the next she's angry, one minute she's to blame, the next she's the victim. Such psychological mayhem makes Funhouse not only a fully effective "break-up" disc, but an emotional roller coaster that has P!nk daring her pop princess peers to make something even remotely as powerful. And on the brighter side of the disc, along with "So What", are a pocketful of rocking fresh tunes where P!nk admits to having a partying addiction ("Bad Influence") and then threatens to burn down her ex's house ("Funhouse").

Funhouse is not P!nk's best release so far - for that you should look to the smorgasbord of diversity on I'm Not Dead or her pop masterpiece Missundaztood - but it definitely does further solidify her position as a master (and risk-taker) of radio pop-rock. She makes smart decisions and therefore succeeds in delivering powerpunches with each release, making herself a vital part of today's popular music scene. To paraphrase "So What", she is definitely still a rockstar with her rockmoves, and she most certainly doesn't need us - it's us that need her.

-Josh Page

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