Normally I hate to listen to "leaked" (whether officially by an artist/record company or a hacker/blogger) music before the album officially drops; call me old-fashioned, but I like to be surprised by what blares out of my car stereo on the day the album is downloaded to my iPod (okay, so I guess I'm not too old-fashioned!). But after weeks of being bored with my current song selection, I saw a message online that P!nk's newest album, Funhouse was up for listening on mtv.com and headed right over to give it an early listen. It was the only album I had on my waiting list other than Kanye's, and considering the bonus tracks only available through the pre-order I had already placed with iTunes were not on this preview playlist, I figured I had enough of an opportunity for the surprise factor next Tuesday with what those few had to offer.
Unfortunately for me, though, my instincts were once again correct, and I never should have clicked on the link I listed for y'all above. I was in no way disappointed with what I found there-- in fact it was quite the opposite-- and that is the problem: I got a taste of what is to come, and now I find myself wanting to sing along in my new Honda Accord with a seven-speaker-complete-with-subwoofer sound system and yet still having to wait until next Tuesday (or Monday evening if Apple is feeling especially kind) in order to do so. Sometimes it really is better not to know what you're missing.
Perhaps ironically, that seems to be the theme to Funhouse anyway, as it kicks opens with "So What," P!nk's post-divorce fun-poking single at the expense (and with the help) of her ex Carey Hart. Undoubtedly you've already heard this on KIIS FM or the VMAs by now, setting up a fun-filled romp of a disc from the tough, "tell it like it is" chick we've come to know and love. And once again she does not disappoint-- except when P!nk "tells it like it is" this time around, she turns the mic toward herself and what she may have done wrong in her relationship. She is fixated on her failures and her missteps to the point where it touches every single one of the twelve tracks on this (standard version) album-- albeit in different ways. Two songs into Funhouse she hits us with a slightly more reflective, take on her recent experiences with "I Don't Believe You," which a few years ago we may have assumed she was singing about her own parents' divorce. With lyrics like "It’s like the way we fight/The times I’ve cried/We come to blows/And every night/The passion’s there/So it’s got to be right/Right?" P!nks lets her fans in in a way she never has before: she is vulnerable and serious and softer somehow. Two songs later in "Please Don't Leave Me" she delves further into self-reflection and almost regret singing "I can be so mean when I wanna be/I am capable of really anything/I can cut you into pieces/But my heart is broken." Never going into so many specific details, her words are universal and relatable, and she can be-- no, she is talking to every one of us.
For those looking for the lighter, dance-along tracks, P!nk provides "Bad Influence" in which she calls herself an "instigator of underwear" and claiming she likes to party because "it's genetic." Following that with the title track "Funhouse" provides for some solid minutes of losing yourself in shaking your hair and your hips, but it is hard to ignore that P!nk's words are still full of pain she may not be able to shake off with a slammin' beat. It's easy to hear the chanting-singing along to "This used to be a funhouse/But now it's full of evil clowns/It's time to start the countdown/I'm gonna burn it down down down/I'm gonna burn it down... I'm crawling through the darkest home/My key don't fit my life no more/I'll change the drapes/I'll break the plates I'll find a new place/Burn this f**ker down" like an anthem, but it's that much easier to hear the "cracks in the crystal ball," as she puts it later. Funhouse is probably not the album LaFace Records expected (or perhaps even wanted) P!nk to make as a follow-up to the politically charged I'm Not Dead, but it's so poignant and timely it's impossible to imagine any other release.