Changing how the world thinks about nursing

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Pink, "Missundaztood" (2001)

Arista Records

Nursing rating 1 star

Rating guide:
excellent = 4 stars; good = 3 stars;
fair = 2 stars, poor = 1 star

Artistic rating 2 1/2 stars

Pink Missundaztood cover"Missundaztood" dresses Pink's young misfit thing in safe rock and hip-hop styles, and the self-declared un-Britney emerges with a fairly engaging album for bubblegum pop graduates. Unfortunately, the record includes a prominent and troubling reference to nurses.

"Missundaztood" deals with the pain of romance and family relations, and of course, identity. Some of its heartfelt lyrics aren't inept or cliched. And the lack of cynical sexual or romantic come-ons probably counts as integrity. Pink sings well enough, though the music is crafted largely by veteran multi-instrumentalist Linda Perry and superstar producer Dallas Austin. Hit singles, notably Perry's propulsive "Get the Party Started," helped the album find its target: it sold 12 million copies worldwide, and millions more were likely downloaded.

The album's mildly catchy pop-rock single "Just Like a Pill" explores how love can, you know, make you sick--a theme familiar even to fans of Pink's prior album, which included "You Make Me Sick." "Just Like a Pill" compares the speaker's lover to both recreational drug use ("It must be a bad trip") and standard health care. One key lyric, repeated clearly just before the chorus three times, goes:

I can't stay on your life support
There's a shortage in the switch
I can't stay on your morphine
Cause it's making me itch
I said I tried to call the nurse again
But she's being a little bitch

Apparently, some nurses object to being called unresponsive little bitches. But what's more interesting is how the lyric--written by Pink and/or Austin --includes the nurse with inanimate elements of care that one might find in an ICU: life support machines with switches and drugs like morphine. By contrast, in the single "Don't Let Me Get Me" which precedes "Just Like a Pill" on the album, Pink implores: "So doctor doctor won't you please prescribe me something / A day in the life of someone else."

On "Missundaztood," physicians get honorifics, politeness and the wish that they had supernatural power to relieve pain. Nurses get diminutive misogyny and comparisons to broken machines and itchy chemicals. Pink is all about girl power--the rap-influenced "Respect" gamely tries to update the Aretha Franklin classic, exhorting "sistas" to resist pushy players and even spelling out the title, like Aretha does. But Pink might consider just which sistas are "missundaztood" in "Just Like a Pill."

Am I reading too much into this? Maybe. But I can think of over 12 million reasons to take that chance.

Review by Harry Jacobs Summers
Nursing Editor: Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
Reviewed October 26, 2003

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board Members or Advisory Panel of The Truth About Nursing.


Listen to the mp3 of the offensive lyrics by clicking here.

Take Action!

Pink herself encourages fans to Change the World by donating talent, money and effort to campaigns to address social problems. Let's ask Pink to apologize to nurses for these damaging lyrics, to keep these issues in mind when writing future songs, and to make amends by supporting campaigns to address the nursing shortage.

Write to Pink and encourage her to change her part of the world at fanmail@pinkspage.com and copy this letter to the head of Pink's record company, Arista Records CEO Antonio "LA" Reid, at info@arista.com. Please blind carbon copy the Center at letters@truthaboutnursing.org on any letter so that we can track the effectiveness of this campaign.

If we work together to change the world, as Pink says, "[t]he pay-off may be one of the most worthwhile experiences that you ever have."

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