It's hard to believe it's 19 years since Pink burst on to the scene with her debut album, Can't Take Me Home. She then rose with Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and Nelly Furtado to become one of the most commercially reliable artists in pop.
Her last album, Beautiful Trauma, was among the world's bestselling albums of 2017, putting her alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. Tickets for her concert at the RDS in Dublin this summer sold out in half an hour. She has the kind of mass appeal many artists can only aspire to.
On her new album, Hurts 2B Human, Pink seemingly sets out largely to emulate Beautiful Trauma’s winning formula of soaring ballads and anthemic bangers. She tries on a few other genres for size, too, including dance and country, but leans heavily on the powerhouse ballads. The effect is an album that skews a little too safe to really pack a punch.
Its lead single, Walk Me Home, sees the singer reteam with Nate Ruess, with whom she collaborated on the 2013 hit Just Give Me a Reason. It's an admittedly catchy, if overwrought, number that seems tailor made to soundtrack the climax of an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
Courage, which she wrote with Sia, is envisaged as another of the singer’s empowerment bangers, the type you hear on ads for women’s razors. Unfortunately, it’s too half-baked and similar to Sia’s own work to have the desired effect.
Nor do Love Me Anyway, a collaboration with the country singer Chris Stapleton, and the album’s title track, a duet with Khalid, live up to their promise. Neither rises above being pleasant background music.
More effective is 90 Days, a collaboration with Wrabel, a sparse ballad reminiscent of Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap. It's powerful, urgent and a welcome reprieve from the aggressively radio-friendly ballads that populate the rest of the album.
Even when the songwriting is formulaic, Pink sings with such conviction and verve that she can momentarily trick you into thinking a song is better than it really is
Can We Pretend is an infectious dance number that features the singer yearning to go back in time to when she was 22. One of the song’s refrains is, “Can we pretend that we both like the president?” It’s cheeky, dance-floor ready and an ideal showcase for Pink’s personality. Likewise, Happy and We Could Have It All – the latter written with Beck – are both welcome throwbacks to the pop-rock hits of yore.
And even when the songwriting is formulaic, Pink sings with such conviction and verve that she can momentarily trick you into thinking a song is better than it really is.
Hurts 2B Human may not be Pink’s most standout work, and there is a feeling that perhaps she is capitalising on the enormous commercial success of Beautiful Trauma to the detriment of the songwriting, but there should be enough here to satisfy her fans and generate at least one or two hits.
The release of this album has been completely overshadowed by the release of Taylor Swift's new single. Pink needn't worry, though. She knows that slow and steady wins the race. Long after Swift and Ariana Grande have faded from memory, Pink will likely still be standing.