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
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.
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.
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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.
Yes … we’re going to have a lot to answer for someday.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.