At the turn of the millennium, Pink was a white girl singing R&B with an aggressive pink dye job and a nonconformist streak. The shtick worked. In fact, it worked so well that she had the confidence and was given the freedom to change it up on her sophomore album, "Missundaztood." On November 20, 2001, and the album was released to global commercial and critical success, critics welcoming the more mature pop sound Pink presented on the record after a dance-pop/R&B debut. "Missundaztood" is a bold leap from her debut, "Can't Take Me Home." The R'n'B/Hip Hop roots are still strong, but this predecessor far excels in versatility. Here Pink drives her van full of attitude on a journey through sassy pop, and deep and meaningful acoustic guitar-led ballads.
Radio was filled with an odd mixture of hits that offered reflection or escapism. Songs like Enrique Iglesias‘ “Hero” and No Doubt’s “Hey Baby” made their home on the Top 40 airwaves that fall. “Get The Party Started” had an infectious sentiment, and the catchy rhythm is a fantastic opener. Writing credits for Linda Perry of dodgy one-hit wonders 4 Non-Blondes may raise a dubious eyebrow initially. Still, Pink's faith in her childhood idol has paid off as Perry's contributions make up many of the highlights. It became the highest-charting single of that cycle, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the bombastic track wasn’t exactly an accurate preview of the heavy insight into Pink’s personal past that rounded out much of the album. “Don’t Let Me Get Me” followed at the top of 2002 with lyrics and visuals that playfully mocked Reid and gave a full video introduction to Pink The Rocker. Then that summer, “Just Like A Pill” continued her full dip into the post-grunge pool with an angsty video. Both singles cracked the top 10.
This resulted in two dominant themes on Missundaztood: female empowerment and melancholic nostalgia. “18 Wheeler” and “Respect” fell into the former category and were pop confections. Cuts like “Eventually,” “Lonely Girl,” “My Vietnam,” and “Misery” gave the collection such an authentic heart that it appealed to an audience beyond radio inclinations. Even “Family Portrait” was just the right amount of torment and confessional that set her apart from the Class of Y2K Pop. But, then there were songs like the title track "Missunderztood," a quirky bobbing, country-tinged ditty of self-assurance and "Dear Diary" with its weird confessionals, we see Pink getting personal. Boys and romance are off the menu now; this is about serious redefining. Not too serious, mind. Mixed in with the blend of pure R'n'B ("Everything"), she was previously known for being genre leaping nuggets like "Numb" (full-on grungy-electro rock), whereas "Respect" falls halfway between a grown-up Daphne and Celeste and an Aretha Franklin homage.
"Missundaztood" defied expectations both in sound and themes, and the gamble paid off. The LP spawned four Top 40 singles and sold 10 million copies in the US, catapulting Pink into pop’s upper echelon. But the pop-rock glory the pair crafted on Missundaztood paved the way for career-making albums in that mould from other pop stars: Avril Lavigne’s debut Let Go in 2002, Kelly Clarkson’s "Breakaway" and many more. Alecia Moore was the first to leave the doomed small town of “pop trend” and head to the big city where artists make personally meaningful albums while finding their signature aesthetic. That’s why "Missundaztood" remains fresh today, even years later.