Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Pink, a true pop artist

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 12:16 PM EST, Tue November 20, 2012
Singer Pink proves she's still a showstopper during the American Music Awards on Sunday.
Singer Pink proves she's still a showstopper during the American Music Awards on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Why does our culture let auto-tuned syrup dominate the pop charts?
  • Granderson: Thank God for Pink, who care really sing
  • He says Pink deserves the kind of attention that Lady Gaga and Adele receive

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

(CNN) -- One day, many years from now, future generations will look back at this time in our country's history and wonder what in the hell were we thinking.

The Kardashians are famous for no reason, same-sex marriage is controversial for stupid reasons, and somehow the "Twilight" franchise is a cash cow.

But our culture's biggest sin may well be the auto-tuned syrup we've allowed to dominate the pop charts. All-time chart records are handed to vacuous acts such as the Black Eyed Peas and singing awards are given to vocal lightweights such as Taylor Swift.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

History will show a dark time in our culture in which a million followers on Twitter became a key component to winning a Grammy.

But thank God for Pink.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



That's what I was thinking as I was watching her performance during Sunday's American Music Awards. She recreated the video for her current single, "Try," a midtempo ballad about the ups and downs of an imperfect relationship.

Where there is desire

There is gonna be a flame

Where there is a flame

Someone's bound to get burned

But just because it burns

Doesn't mean you're gonna die

You've gotta get up and try try try

Singing words like that live with the right level of emotion that Pink is known for is hard enough. Doing so while in engaged in an athletic pas de deux, complete with lifts, is breathtaking. She received a standing ovation afterward, much in the same way she commanded one at the 2010 Grammys as she swung over the audience's heads on a trapeze, asking:

Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?

Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, "I just don't care"?

It would all seem like a meat-dress wearing gimmick if she didn't have the voice and lyrics to back it up. But she does, and thus we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing her voice will be there for future generations to discover when looking back at us.

Pink won't be able to scrub our record clean singlehandedly -- there's just too much manufacturing for one person to overcome. But at least there will be evidence for my great-great grandkids to see that we weren't all "American Idol's" sheep. While Christina Aguilera has a tendency to oversing, Britney Spears can't sing, and Lauryn Hill sorta stopped singing, Pink has managed to carve a brilliant 13-year-career by being something that is incredibly rare these days -- an artist.

A complete artist.

Maybe the most underrated artist we've had on the radio in the past 20 years.

That's not to suggest she's been ignored -- Pink has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. It's just when you look at the amount of publicity given to her in comparison to say, Lady Gaga or Adele, well there is no comparison. We know she is phenomenal, but the others are considered phenomenons. Gaga and Adele are worthy of the accolades, but whenever I listen to Pink's "Dear Mr. President," "Family Portrait" or "Sober," I feel the need to atone for us not making more room for her in the pop culture paradigm.

Billboard magazine -- one of the most respected names in the music industry -- ranked the top five performances from the American Music Awards. For them, Pink's brave rendition of "Try" was second. Tops was Psy doing "Gangnam Style" with MC Hammer.

MC Hammer!?!

Yes ... we're going to have a lot to answer for someday.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT