As of this week, Pink’s new song “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” is in the top ten. Woo! This is now her twelfth top ten single, which isn’t bad for a woman whose career seemed dead in the middle of the 00s.
As you may remember, I liked “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” when I first heard it, and it has grown on me since.
But how does it compare to Pink’s other hits? Is the new song rocking us like we’ve never been rocked before? Or is it more of the same old sass? To find, I’ve created a scientific ranking of Pink’s top 20 singles. (And by scientific, I mean “Not scientific at all.”) Here they are, from worst to best.
(Note: Pink has lots of amazing songs that were never singles or that didn’t reach the top 20. In my heart, I’m honoring their awesomeness, even though they aren’t listed here.)
Previously: I rank Katy Perry’s hits!
(17) “Stupid Girls”
Hot 100 Peak: #13
When “Stupid Girls” was released, it was supposed to be Pink’s comeback song, obliterating the memory of the underperforming Try This album. Only, whoops!, Try This is a fun, spiky record full of great songs like “Trouble” and “Oh My God,” while “Stupid Girls” is a predictable, tuneless attempt to mock airheaded women. Lyrics about self-hating chicks who only eat 300 calories are not only mean-spirited, but also cliche. Meanwhile, the track is just a mess, trying to sound hard and ending up as noise.
Even worse, the hypocritical music video shows Pink “mocking” celebrity bimbos by dressing up in slutty costumes. But here’s the thing: If you dress like a slut to make fun of sluts, then you are still dressing like a slut. The boys at home who are thwacking themselves aren’t thinking about your social commentary.
(16) “There You Go” (watch)
Hot 100 Peak: #7
If you played this song for someone who’d never heard it, they would never know it was by Pink. It’s hard to remember now, but her first album positioned her as roughneck R&B diva who was in the same family as Destiny’s Child and Christina Milian. I know, right? Considering that Pink is now firmly established as a rock-pop goddess who’s not afraid of folk and blues, this seems crazy. But the fact that it seems out of place isn’t what makes “There You Go” a bad song. Blame that on the generic, boring beat. It sounded alright in 2000, when everything else on the radio was the same, but now it’s clear the song is just filler from another time.
(15) “Family Portrait” (watch)
Hot 100 Peak: #20
This was the last single from Missundaztood, the album that overhauled Pink’s identity and made it clear she has both amazing talent and a unique point of view. Back then, “Family Portrait” was a startling personal statement because its autobiographical lyrics about a broken family were such a departure from the booty-shorts attitude of her first album. Now, the song sounds strained. It’s perfectly fine, but Pink has made richer, more musically sophisticated statements. (If you don’t know “Runaway,” make sure you check it out. To me, that’s her best “messed up family” track.)
(14) “So What”
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #1
This might be a controversial choice, since this is one of Pink’s signature songs, but I’ve never really loved it. I mean, it’s not terrible, but for me, it’s… inelegant. Lyrics like “The waiter just took my table and gave it to Jessica Simps” are supposed to be funny, I guess, but they seem lazy. And in Pink’s large collection of “snotty rock kiss-offs,” this one is the least interesting, musically speaking. That grinding guitar riff is distinctive, but it’s also kind of ugly, and it’s always sounded like it was trying too hard to be bad ass. The best thing about Pink is that she doesn’t have to strut around acting cool. She just is cool, and when she’s being honest, that’s still obvious. This song is about her failing marriage, and that would have been powerful enough, even without the clunky riffs and the big raspberry she blows at the end.
(13) “Most Girls” (watch)
Hot 100 Peak: #4
This is Pink’s other hit from her R&B period, and it’s about a billion times better than “There You Go.” It’s probably because it was written by Babyface (!!), that champion of 90s music who wrote smashes like Madonna’s “Take a Bow” and Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You.” His knack for melody makes this song stand out even today, and if you catch me on the right day, then I will definitely tell you that shortie got a job, shortie got a car, and shortie can pay [his] own rent.
(12) “Don’t Let Me Get Me” (watch)
Hot 100 Peak: #8
This is where some stuff gets crazy, because “Don’t Let Me Get Me” is a terrific song, but it’s still at number 12 on this list. That tells you how many great singles my girls has dropped on us like glittering bombs of glory. Remember before when I said the “Jessica Simps” line in “So What” was weak? That’s because I’m judging it against this line: “Tired of being compared/ to damn Britney Spears./She’s so pretty;/that just ain’t me.”
Now that is a clever celebrity reference, because it does more than just mock someone. It tells us something about Pink, too. It tells us that Pink, at this point, didn’t necessarily think she was pretty. He rebellion is mixed with doubt, which is so much more interesting than cockiness. The only reason I’m holding this song back on the list is that is feels a little young. Pink would cover similar ground to deeper affect on later albums.
(11) “Get the Party Started” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #4
Is she coming “up” or coming “out?” I’ve had so many arguments about it! (For the record, the lyric is “I’m coming UP, so you’d better get this party started.”
I’ve always felt like “Get the Party Started” was the first “real” Pink single… the one that pointed out how awesome and sassy and interesting she really is. (Bonus points: It was also the song that brought former 4 Non Blondes frontwoman Linda Perry, who wrote and produced, back into the limelight. Without “Get the Party Started,” there would be no “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.)
(10) “Lady Marmalade” (featuring Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Christina Aguilera)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1
Yes, ma’am. This song is so epically symbolic of early-00s pop that I can barely comprehend it. The glorious excess in the vocals. The giddy insistence on feminine power mixed with the casual use of bustiers.
But even more importantly, Missy Elliott’s production keeps the song tight. Even when Pink and Christina are hollering all over the place, Missy keeps us focused on the song’s classic melody and the story of a sassy whore who knows how to do her job. Instead of endless riffs or layers of sound, we get just the right amount of personality and just the right blend of stripped-down interludes and crazy beats. Perfect example: The bridge, where the sound falls away for a few vocal riffs, then explodes back in our ears when Christina shoves her way on stage.
(9) “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” (watch the lyric video)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #9 (for now)
Give me a few more months, and I’ll probably put this song even higher on this list. I’m just hesitant to give a new song such a high ranking. Still, after just a few days of listening, I am loving the classic Pink mixture of anger, humor, and vulnerability. There’s a really pretty melody in here, along with a great line about sending a desperate, stupid dude off to see a trick.
(8) “Who Knew” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #9
It’s crazy it took so long, considering how well she sings them, but “Who Knew” was Pink’s first hit ballad. It’s sad and lovely, with Pink reflecting on losing someone she loved, but it’s also tough. She informs us that just a few years ago, if someone had told her this loved one would be gone, then she would have punched the shit out of them.
And I love that. That is one of the most appealing aspects of Pink’s musical personality: She is crying and fighting at the same time. She’s laughing and running, vulnerable and messed up in a way that most pop stars just aren’t. Compare her conflicts to the glossy sexuality of a Britney Spears or even the heightened theatrics of a Lady Gaga: Next to those ladies, Pink seems much more actual, like a woman you might clink beers with after you swap stories about how life sucks sometimes.
(7) “U + Ur Hand” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #9
It had to be released twice before it finally caught on, but after almost a year on the charts, “U + Ur Hand” officially ended Pink’s slump and sent her back into the top ten for the first time in years. And it’s obvious why. This is Pink’s best kiss-off track: The lyrics are raunchy, but they’re also funny and clever. Even the line, “It’s just you and your hand” is refreshingly coy and provocative, and unlike a dopey joke like “if you seek amy,” it also tells us something about the wit and attitude of the woman singing it. Plus, producers Max Martin and Dr. Luke deliver a rocking edge that’s also melodic and smooth.
(6) “Please Don’t Leave Me”
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #17
There’s no question this is a wonderful ballad about a woman admitting how hard she is to love… but how much she needs love anyway. Considering how powerful that sentiment is, the song is bewitchingly understated, letting Pink suggest pain with a subtle vocal instead of just belting it out. The surf-rock bounce of the music matches her softness, and you can hum this song all day before you realize how sad it is.
But the music video is the total opposite. Pink plays a literal crazy person who kidnaps her boyfriend rather than letting him walk out, then subjects him to some freaky activities. When she plops him in that theatre full of dolls? Or chases him with an axe while she’s wearing clown make-up and tenderly singing? My skin crawls. This video is even more effective because its freakiness supports a gentle song. Whispers can be even more upsetting than screams, you know?
(5) “Just Like a Pill” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #8
Do people even remember this song now? Because it’s pretty damn phenomenal, and I feel like it gets overlooked. So in case you haven’t listened in a while, follow that link up there. You’ll hear a killer rock anthem with an unstoppable chorus that I want to scream along with right now.
(4) “Fuckin’ Perfect” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #2
Released in the midst of pop’s self-empowerment boom (see: “Firework,” “Born this Way,” “We R Who We R”), “Fuckin’ Perfect stood out for lots of reasons. For one thing, it’s musically complex: Folky guitars give way to arena-rock drums, and then the bridge throws out some random white-girl rapping that actually works. I think that’s because the lyrics are so specific and vivid, full of images of Pink craving ice-cold beer as she considers all the people who don’t (or won’t) understand her and all the ways she lets them affect her. And once again, this song tries to empower people by having Pink acknowledge her own problems. Oh, it lets her belt some amazing notes. A stadium filler for the ages.
(3) “Raise Your Glass” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #1
I’m not going to front like the lyrics in “Raise Your Glass” are on par with Walt Whitman. “Don’t be fancy, just get dance-y?” “If you’re too school for cool?” Um… okay, sister. And a goo-goo-gajoob to you, too. But sometimes, pop music can make silliness an art form… an explosion of joy and abandon that makes me we want to dance and spin around and just feel good. And it’s not easy to walk the line between “stupid” and “fun.” Plenty of songs fall on the wrong damn side, but sometimes, a track like “Raise Your Glass” gets it right. That’s a testament to the vocals, the songwriting, and the sleek production.
(2) “Glitter in the Air” (watch)
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #18
What’s that? You want to hear one of the most heart-rending vocals in recent pop history? You want to hear Pink make the line “you called me sugar” sound like a wailing testament of relief that uncomplicated love has finally, finally entered her life? And you want all of that wrapped around a simple, unforgettable piano melody? Well then here you go! And it doesn’t hurt that this song broke through because Pink performed it on the Grammys while spinning above the ground while wet and upside down. And she was still on pitch, y’all! I can’t prove it, but I feel like this song made a lot of people realize how much Pink has to offer, and no wonder. Who else could do what she does here?
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: #15
There are many reasons that “Sober” is my jam.
For one, the lyrics are dense and satisfying. It takes more than a superficial listen to catch the nuance in this tale about a woman who only loves herself when she’s drunk, who wishes she could like herself this much when she’s sober, but who can’t seem to pull herself out of her spiral. She doesn’t want to be out there partying at 4:00 in the morning, but she can’t seem to stop.
Plus, this story gets told with a thrilling rock score, and I’ve learned from karaoke experience that it’s really fun to sing. The “spinning ’round” bridge is quiet and lovely, while the chorus is all shouts and emotion. The verses are fully of theatrical pauses and inflections, and the ending just dripps with power notes. It’s amazing. (And co-written by Kara DioGuardi, by the way.)
And then there’s the video, which features two Pinks fighting for control of a single soul. And at one point, they have hot sex. With each other. The clip just seals the deal for making this Pink’s all-time greatest song.
Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He has written about pop music for the New York Times and NPR. Listening to all these Pink songs has really made his day kick ass.