Let's face it: 2012 hasn't been a great year for the pop album. Sure, it's been an excellent year for the pop single, but when the year's biggest sellers are 2011 releases from Adele and One Direction, pop fans have been chomping at the bit for an album that will set the tone for what radio might sound like for the next year or two.
Pink's "The Truth About Love" could very well be that album. Teaming her with first-time collaborators like Greg Kurstin, Jeff Bhasker and Semisonic's Dan Wilson, pairing her once again with heavy-hitters Max Martin, Shellback, Butch Walker and Billy Mann and featuring guest spots (rarities for a Pink album) from fun.'s Nate Ruess, Eminem and Lily Rose Cooper (a.k.a. Lily Allen), "The Truth About Love" is a peerlessly witty, endlessly melodic tour de force. The album has moments that will make Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and countless others who've followed in Pink's footsteps calling their A&R guys immediately to recreate them.
There's also a wealth of material to choose from. Due Tuesday at retail and digital outlets, the album will come in at least two different deluxe editions - one at Target, with four exclusive bonus tracks, the other at iTunes with two of its own extra cuts. Which are the best cuts? Check out our track-by-track review of "The Truth About Love's" deluxe Target edition.
1. Are We All We Are - An anthemic call-to-arms penned with Butch Walker, John Hill and Lana Del Rey producer Emile Haynie, "Are We All We Are" has a self-empowerment message that picks up where 2010 mega-hit "Raise Your Glass" left off. "We are the people that you'll never get the best of / Not forget the rest of / Just sing it loud until the kids will sing it right back," she sings.
2. Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Already a top 10 Hot 100 hit, the cheekily titled "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" is perhaps most representative of the album's overall spirit - state-of-the art production (courtesy of Greg Kurstin), playful, occasionally foul-mouthed lyrics and a narrative that finds the singer contemplating the end of her tumultuous 10-year relationship with motocross star Carey Hart ("I think I finally had enough / I think I maybe think too much") - complete with a mid-chorus key change that Pink has already cursed Kurstin over in her thank-you notes.
3. Try - Prepped as the album's second single, "Try" (another Kurstin production) is a handclap-heavy ode to taking risks with love, no matter the consequences. "Where there is desire there is gonna be a flame / Where there is a flame someone's bound to be get burned / But just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die / You gotta get up and try," she sings on the chorus. With a melody reminiscent of "Whataya Want From Me," the 2009 hit she penned for Adam Lambert, the single already pairs well sonically with Pink's catalog.
4. Just Give Me A Reason feat. Nate Ruess - Fun. fans, take note - this duet with the band's lead singer Nate Ruess (produced by "We Are Young" helmer Jeff Bhasker) would fit right at home on "Some Nights." Although it's a little jarring to hear Pink's raw, live vocals paired with Ruess' Auto-Tune, it's ultimately a less-schmaltzy version of those male/female duets found at the end credits of every 80s movie.
5. True Love feat. Lily Rose Cooper - Perhaps the album's brightest moment, Pink defines "True Love" the best way she knows it. "You're an asshole but I love you / And you make me so mad I ask myself / Why I'm still here or where could I go." With a giant chorus and a welcome cameo from Lily Rose Cooper (reuniting with Kurstin, the producer of 2009's "It's Not Me It's You"), "True Love" deserves to be one of Pink's signature songs.
6. How Come You're Not Here - A bluesy, glam-rock stomper with expert production from multi-instrumentalist Kurstin, "How Come You're Not Here" features one of Pink's most distinct vocal performances to date - the fact that its chorus begs for fist-pumps and stadium stomping doesn't hurt, either.
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7. Slut Like You - What do you get when you cross a riff and a "Woohoo" reminiscent of Blur's "Song 2," a couple "Scarface" references ("you'll be my little friend") and a monster Max Martin melody? One of the funniest post-feminist approaches to the sociological question, "If a guy can be a player, why can't a girl?"
8. The Truth About Love - Much like "True Love," the album's title track finds Pink contemplating the secret - or lack thereof - to a long-lasting bond. "The truth about love / is it's blood and it's guts / Purebreds and mutts, sandwiches without the crust," she sings in one of many great couplets.
9. Beam Me Up - A heartfelt acoustic ballad about taking a break from reality ("Beam me up / Let me be lighter / I'm tired of bein' a fighter / I think a minute's enough"), "Beam Me Up" recalls some of the quietest moments that also made "Funhouse" such an emotionally compelling album. An ace collaboration with Billy Mann.
10. Walk Of Shame - If you thought "Slut Like You" and "Blow Me" were fun, get ready for "Walk of Shame," which is about exactly what you think it is. To reveal any of its lyrics would deny the listener of the song's many surprising charms.
11. Here Comes The Weekend feat. Eminem
A reunion with both Eminem and producer DJ Khalil following 2010's "Won't Back Down," the song is also a sequel of sorts to "Get This Party Started" but without a hook or chorus quite as memorable. One of the album's weaker tracks, "Here Comes The Weekend" at least features a few random P. Diddy disses from Eminem's welcome guest rap.
12. Where Did The Beat Go? - An apt title for this midtempo track, Pink questions what happened to the pace of a once hot-and-heavy relationship. With military drums and multi-layered use of Pink's vocals, "Where Did The Beat Go?" also features some of the album's best lyrics.
13. The Great Escape - Ending the main album track list on a somber but hopeful note, "The Great Escape" is addressed to both a friend of Pink's who contemplated suicide and to anyone going through a rough patch. A collaboration with Dan Wilson (who co-wrote Adele's "Someone Like You"), "The Great Escape" is a showcase for some of Pink's most personal lyrics to date on the bridge alone - "I wrote the book on running / But that chapter in my life / Will soon be done oh / I'm the kind of the great escpae / you're not gonna watch me checkin' out of this place / You're not gonna lose me."
14. My Signature Move (Target exclusive) - Instantly dispelling the myth that bonus tracks are just leftovers, "My Signature Move" (the first of three bonus cuts co-penned with Butch Walker) has one of the best choruses Pink has written in years, and is worth the extra cash on its own.
15. Is This Thing On? (Target exclusive) - With a hushed but rhythmic intro that brings to mind 2006's "Who Knew," "Is This Thing On?" eventually builds to a danceable climax - the closest she lets herself get to a four-on-the-floor moment.
16. Run (Target exclusive) - A power ballad that would fit right at home on an 80s movie soundtrack, "Run" is another chance for Pink to bare her soul at the listener's expense. "I've got scars you won't believe / wear them proudly on my sleeve / I hope you have the sense to know / that sadness comes and sadness goes," she sings.
17. Good Old Days (Target exclusive) - Imagine Janis Joplin covering Colbie Caillat, and you can almost imagine the uniquely sunny yet hard-edged vibe Pink manages to capture on this track she co-penned with Billy Mann and David Schuler. A refreshing, live-in-the-moment message to end the album.