The signs were there all along. When P!nk released the incredibly boring “Walk Me Home” as Hurts 2B Human‘s lead single, we should have known the album was going to be a disaster. If we go by the understanding that the lead single should be among the album’s strongest offerings, if not its most commercial one, then the choice of “Walk Me Home” is troubling.
As troubling as it is, the choice is understandable because Hurts 2B Human is a derivative, sleep-inducing, and uninspired collection of songs that sound like accidents. A quintessential P!nk track has a piercing vocal and punchy lyricism, so when the the hook on “Hustle,” the opening track, warbles “Don’t hustle me (Whoop, whoop)/Don’t fuck with me (Whoop, whoop)” you can’t help but feel swindled. Hurts 2B Human simultaneously feels like a ploy to get two or three more Adult Contemporary radio hits and a strategic record to fully transition P!nk into the streaming era. Her last album, the excellent Beautiful Trauma (review here), sold well but it did not pull impressive streaming numbers. Hurts 2B Human is a haphazard quilt of different genres and collaborators in order to score a legitimate streaming hit.
There’s the Cash Cash collaboration, “Can We Pretend,” that sounds like a seven-year old demo that thinks it’s edgy and cool. “Can we pretend that we will fight the president?” croons P!nk over a snappy EDM beat. In the Trump era, if you’re going to allude to his presidency in your music, you can’t half-ass it. Sadly, that’s exactly what P!nk does on Hurts 2B Human. Every song lacks intention and interest. Too many of the tracks either try to recall 2000’s P!nk or become an “emotional moment.” “Miss You Sometime” and “My Attic” each have interesting elements in their verses, but the song structure is so predictable that it feels like P!nk was sleeping while recording them. Take “Courage” and “Happy,” for example, these two songs are sure to be syndicated in the next dreary Hallmark or Lifetime movie. Yes, they’re that ponderous and corny. Hurts 2B Human sounds like the ugly stepsister of Beautiful Trauma; it is stacked to the brim with rejects.
Hurts 2B Human does have some redeeming moments, however. Chris Stapleton and Khalid save the day on “Love Me Anyway” and “Hurts 2B Human,” respectively. Chris’ gruff emotive voice breathes a sense of urgency into what could have been yet another sappy ballad. On the title track, Khalid modernizes P!nk’s guitar-driven sound and helps her update some of her old R&B sensibilities for a new era. “90 Days,” a collaboration with Wrabel, seems to be a typical P!nk power ballad on the surface, but the sparse production and surprising chemistry between the two vocalists make the song incredibly more interesting.
Hurts 2B Human is disappointing because P!nk has proven that she is capable of creating masterful albums with songs that are infinitely more engaging than these. Furthermore, Beautiful Trauma still sounds fresh. Sure, there may have not been anymore hits on that album, but that is no reason to rush out such a dreadful record.
Key Tracks: “Love Me Anyway”; “90 Days”