P!nk may just be one of the most underrated pop stars around. Sure, she's not some unknown artist forced to play tiny hole-in-the-wall venues, but the show she put on Monday night at Staples Center should put her at the level of the best pop stars in the game right now. While all the buzz and the charts are dominated by the Ariana Grandes, Taylor Swifts, Lady Gagas and Beyoncés, P!nk has continued her show-stopping, Cirque du Soleil–level performances and consistent messaging of embracing your inner freak, just as she's done for the last 19 years.
P!nk is on the second leg of her Beautiful Trauma World Tour, which first came to L.A. with two dates last May and June (P!nk is playing a second show on this leg at the Forum on Friday, April 19). Perhaps P!nk flies more under the radar because she has never fit the cookie-cutter pop star package. Even as early as her 2001 single “Don't Let Me Get Me” from her career-making album Missundaztood (the title alone is evidence of my point), she sings, “I'm tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears/She's so pretty, that just ain't me.”
Indeed, her grit, spunk, take-no-prisoners attitude and androgynous look have set her apart from her contemporaries. Her set list was a great retrospective of her entire career, although her first album, Can't Take Me Home, and third album, Try This, were sadly not represented. P!nk also switched out two songs from the previous leg of her tour in favor of two new songs, the funky “Hustle” and the folky “Walk Me Home,” both of which are from her upcoming new album, Hurts 2B Human, due out April 26.
At her show on Monday, P!nk did everything you could possibly want to see a pop star do in concert and more: She entered the arena literally swinging from a chandelier (Sia, eat your heart out), she flew through the air while fighting a giant inflatable Eminem (he's featured on her song “Revenge”), she rode a flying bed, she spun around high above the stage while strapped to her dancer and, at the end of the show, she literally flew across the entire arena doing flips, twirls and tricks. And she did all this while singing live with flawless vocals. Not to mention she had multiple costume changes and kept up with some great choreography. With average ticket prices for non-nosebleed seats around $200 these days to see a big pop show, this is what truly makes it worthwhile.
But that's not to say the show was all theatrics and no substance. P!nk proved how strong a singer she is during an acoustic set toward the end of the show. And perhaps the most inspiring moment of all was a video on the giant LED screens while she was changing. The video touched on all sorts of hot-button issues, from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo. “I don't want there to be gay marriage, I just want there to be happy marriage,” P!nk said in the video.
The video led straight into “What About Us,” where P!nk and her dancers displayed some amazing choreography and she sang, “Sticks and stones, they may break these bones/But then I'll be ready, are you ready?/It's the start of us, waking up, come on/Are you ready? I'll be ready.” I still have goosebumps thinking about it. And the message definitely resonated with the diverse audience — P!nk even commented that it was the best L.A. crowd she'd ever seen in her life, including gay and straight, young and old. In fact, there were so many little girls in the audience it's surprising that P!nk's music isn't played on the radio more than it is (her last album, Beautiful Trauma, for example, had one single that reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, but no other singles made the top 40).
So why is that the case? Again, it most likely goes back to P!nk's refusal to conform. In her 2017 speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, when she accepted the Vanguard Award, she described a moment when her daughter told her she was ugly because she looked like a boy. “I went home and made a PowerPoint presentation for her. And in that presentation were androgynous rock stars and artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on, wave their flag and inspire the rest of us. … We don't change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.”
P!nk also included the audio from this speech as a part of the concert in a video while she was changing costume, before coming onstage to perform the inspirational “Raise Your Glass,” which was right on theme with her message. As she said in the other video that played before “What About Us,” “We're all pink on the inside.” While most of us can't fly through an arena, what we can do is use the strength that P!nk has been demonstrating as a strong female in the tough music industry for nearly two decades to embrace our inner P!nk and love ourselves for who we are, without conforming to what society thinks we should be.