P!nk’s new studio album Beautiful Trauma is epicly P!nk, which is to say it’s an amalgamation of emotions and stream-of-consciousness thoughts crafted into pop songs. Her processing her thoughts or fears tend to lend themselves to her strongest tracks and, on this particular collection, one of those is the all-too-timely “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.”
In her Apple Music documentary On The Record, P!nk (née Alicia Moore) shares that she originally wrote the song for the 2015 film Suffragette. And while she doesn’t say why it didn’t end up on the film’s soundtrack, she does explain its inspiration.
“The movie is about the suffragette movement which is women’s right to vote,” P!nk said. “You have to fight for what’s rightly yours which is rights and respect and love and kindness and compassion and you have to be willing to die for it. These women were.”
While P!nk has several other political songs in her repertoire (most notably “Mr. President” featuring Indigo Girls), “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” is incredibly resonant in its release during the days of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and subsequent discussions about rape culture and women coming forward on social media to say “Me too” when it comes to who count themselves among the (up until now) silent majority affected by sexual assault and harassment.
“I will have to die for this I fear/ There’s rage and terror and there’s sickness here,” P!nk starts on “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.” “I fight because I have to/ I fight for us to know the truth/ There’s not enough rope to tie me down/ There’s not enough tape to shut this mouth/ The stones you throw can make me bleed/ But I won’t stop until we’re free.”
A self-professed feminist (in interviews, not the doc itself), Pink is not just proud to be a woman, but frequently speaks and sings about the current landscape of how men and women to relate, as well as how women relate to one another. She publicly acknowledges and supports other female artists, including those that she’s had less-than-friendly relationships with in the past (she now say she doesn’t hold grudges) and those the press attempts to pit against her or vice versa.
It’s worth noting that in 2006, her album I’m Not Dead included the song “Long Way to Happy,” which P!nk said was based on a poem she’d written about surviving sexual abuse by a cop when she was a teen.
“One night to you/ Lasted six weeks for me/ Just a bitter little pill now/ Just to try to go to sleep/ No more waking up to innocence/ Say hello to hesitance,” she starts. But then on the rocking chorus, she maintains: “It’s gonna take a long time to love/ It’s gonna take a lot to hold on/ It’s gonna be a long way to happy, yeah/ Left in the pieces that you broke me into/ Torn apart but now I’ve got to/ Keep on rolling like a stone/ Cause it’s gonna be a long long way to happy.”
“I know a lot of people that have been abused and/or molested and/or fucked over by someone close to them. And I’m no exception. And that’s that song,” she told The Independent the year I’m Not Dead was released.
“Long Way to Happy” co-writer Butch Walker told PopMatters of the song: “Well, obviously when we go into the studio it’s going to be [a] pretty emotional time, so let’s make sure the vocal goes down naturally and, sure enough, she was practically in tears when she sang it. And I don’t blame her.”
More than 10 years after “Long Way To Happy,” “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” is an updated reminder to P!nk and the women of the world that, like the bittersweet sentiment of “Beautiful Trauma” itself, there’s a unifying strength underlying the darkness — that a century after the Suffragettes started their first formations of feminism and demands of equality, resistance and persistence is not only necessary, but ingrained within us as women. It’s a defiance that says the Harvey Weinsteins of the world will not continue to keep women under their thumbs as silent, complacent, good girls who are expected to swallow traumatic recollections and their reverberations in order to keep the power structures balancing the patriarchy from falling in on itself. The song is Pink’s “Me Too” and, like many of us, she can say (or sing) that more than once.
That kind of pain-fueled, feminist performance is just as much P!nk as is the playfulness we see in videos for “Get This Party Started” or “So What?” or in many other fun moments in On the Record. Even when she’s singing about sadness, though, she’s echoing strength, as the lyrics for “Long Way To Happy” have Pink as hopeful as she is on “Wild Hearts.”
The kind of problematic P!nk can be, though, is also part of Beautiful Trauma, as a collaboration with Eminem called “Revenge” has him calling her a slut and a whore for cheating on him. When talking with The Guardian about the song, she laughs and barely attempts to defend the track, instead saying, “I think he’s funny as shit. I don’t think he believes in any of the shit he says. Otherwise, why would he respect a woman like me? Which he does. And I think he’s one of those people that likes to take the piss out of all the shit we hold so precious and so dear. I think all of us get a little too serious at times and that’s why I think it is hilarious that he says, ‘You’re a whore, you’re a whore, this is war.’ I’ve called [husband] Carey [Hart] a whore like 50,000 times.”
But it’s not P!nk calling Eminem a whore on the track — it’s the other way around, and somehow, it doesn’t sound quite as funny as it once might have to fans of either one. An artist who frequently raps misogynistic lyrics, Eminem recently seemed to elevate his own lyrical fodder with an anti-Trump performance on the BET Awards, so it almost seemed like a regression for him to make his verse on “Revenge” more akin to his earlier tracks about getting back at an ex.
Perhaps we can look at the two songs and decide that “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” is an answer to “Revenge” — that in the face of being called a slut or a whore, women are able to withstand the misogyny and violence all-too-often flung our way.
“Wild hearts can’t be broken/ No, wild hearts can’t be broken,” she sings. “This is my rally cry/ I know it’s hard, we have to try/This is a battle I must win/To want my share is not a sin.”
P!nk acknowledges early on in On The Record that she has “a lot to say … that’s going to make people angry.” Her feminism is the kind that speaks its mind, but without kid gloves keeping her from taking care to keep anyone else happy. She’s very much her own woman in the way that singing songs called “Slut Like You” or “Stupid Girls” are both celebratory and contradictory in the way that she wants them to be. Inevitably, each P!nk album is built of these kinds of paradoxes, just like the woman behind them. For every P!nk album, there’s at least one song that can rally the troops — us sluts and whores and wild hearts included.