Pop stars often forsake Utah. After all, quickly after Kanye West announced he was coming to Utah to perform later this year, he canceled.
But a bona-fide pop star, P!nk, will be headlining EnergySolutions Arena on Monday, Jan. 20 (after two postponements), a long way since the 34-year-old Alecia Beth Moore arrived on the music scene in 2000 with the underwhelming debut album “Can’t Take Me Home.”
In fact, when she sang on the intensely popular 2001 remake of “Lady Marmalade” for the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack — you know, that song with the unpronounceable refrain of “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)” — P!nk was arguably the least well-known of the musicians involved (Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Missy Elliott). But she has eclipsed the success of those singers without resorting to twerking half-naked in front of audiences and paparazzi. True, she is not a shrinking violet by any means, but over the course of five albums since her debut, P!nk has become one of the most compelling and thoughtful pop stars of her generation with an appealing balance of fun and melancholic loss. Even better, in an age of manufactured icons, she writes her own music and lyrics (with collaborators).
Because she doesn’t twerk, P!nk isn’t yet a household name, despite over a decade of pop success, primarily because she chooses not to become a fixture in the tabloids.
So The Salt Lake Tribune thought it would offer five songs that illustrate the best of what P!nk has to offer in a pop world devoid of real talent.
“Get the Party Started”
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P!nk’s second album, “Missundaztood,” in 2001 was where she began being taken seriously, even though this single is all about not being serious. In this call to arms for party animals, the singer showed her playful side, which would in coming years be overshadowed by more serious subject matter about the trials and tribulations of love. Most of all, “Get the Party Started” established P!nk as an artist and is considered her signature song. Sample lyrics: “Pumpin’ up the volume with this brand new beat / Everybody’s dancing and they’re dancing for me /I’m your operator, you can call anytime / I’ll be your connection to the party line.”
“U + Ur Hand”
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From her fourth studio album, “I’m Not Dead,” released in 2006, the name of the song refers to the line “Looks like it’s just me and my hand tonight,” a phrase she’d heard guys using after being rejected by girls all night. It is an anthem for women sick of getting hit on by brutes and could even be considered an antidote to the misogyny often shown in male-dominated rock ’n’ roll. Sample lyrics: “I was fine before you walked into my life / ’Cause you know it’s over / Before it began / Keep your drink just give me the money.”
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From her fifth studio album, “Funhouse,” released in 2008, this is a testament that a song about marriage problems can still generate more than 100 million views on YouTube as long as the song is catchy. With a pop rock sound unusual for mainstream pop at the time, the lyrics are based on her separation from motocross racer Carey Hart, who became a constant source of subject matter for P!nk. (Note: They are still married.) Sample lyrics: “I guess I just lost my husband / I don’t know where he went / So I’m gonna drink my money / I’m not gonna pay his rent / I got a brand new attitude and / I’m gonna wear it tonight / I wanna get in trouble / I wanna start a fight.”
“Raise Your Glass”
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Even as P!nk got more serious entering her 30s, she never forgot that much music relies on, well, partying. But this is a different song than “Get the Party Started.” It shows more maturity as well as sharpened lyricism and a superb sense of song craftsmanship that shows off an undeniably infectious chorus. Sample lyrics: “So raise your glass if you are wrong / In all the right ways, all my underdogs / We will never be, never be anything but loud / And nitty, gritty, dirty, little freaks.”
“Just Give Me a Reason” (featuring Nate Ruess)
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This 2012 hit from her sixth studio album, “The Truth About Love,” is a duet with fun.’s Nate Ruess that shows off P!nk’s sensitive side as well as a talent for balladry that is unusually perceptive. With detail-laden lyricism that is more kin to the better country songs of the 1970s, she and Ruess (one of the most talented emoters in pop music) illustrate a chemistry that burns as it simmers. Sample lyrics: “I was your willing victim / I let you see the parts of me / That weren’t all that pretty / And with every touch you fixed them / Now you’ve been talking in your sleep, oh, oh / Things you never say to me, oh, oh / Tell me that you’ve had enough / Of our love, our love.”
When • Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Where • EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $39.50-$99.50 at SmithsTix