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Track Review

Conflict grips our culture today. Hardly a day goes by without some kind of racial or political story dominating the news cycle. It's a time of discord and distrust, of cynicism and anger. And celebrities often stand at the front lines with metaphorical megaphones, amplifying messages of outrage and protesting injustice.

Into this fray wades Alecia Beth Moore, better known as P!nk. As a singer, she's never wavered from speaking her mind. And she's doing so again on "What About Us?" (the lead single from her forthcoming album, Beautiful Trauma).

Taken in isolation, it's tempting to interpret a few lines from the song's chorus as a description of a crumbling romantic relationship. But it seems pretty clear by song's end that P!nk's singing about something bigger than just a bad romance.

Us & You

The opening lines of this plaintive piano ballad find P!nk setting the narrative stage by identifying with a group of people she feels kinship with. "We are searchlights," she sings. "We can see in the dark/ … We are billions of beautiful hearts." But she quickly moves from that beauty to accusing someone of a stinging betrayal: "And you sold us down the river too far."

So who's the "you" here? P!nk doesn't answer that question explicitly. That said, the "you" in question seems to be a person (or perhaps a group of persons) who has, she alleges, broken trust with all those beautiful souls.

She unpacks that betrayal in a series of questions in the song's chorus: "What about us?" P!nk asks. "What about all the times you said you had the answers?/ … What about the broken happy-ever-afters?/ … What about plans that ended in disaster?"

Those questions are followed up by two more that get at the foundation for any relationship: "What about love? What about trust?" And then the titular question again: "What about us?"

Waking Up & Throwing Down

The song's second verse follows the same structure as the first, contrasting "we" and "you": "We are the problems that want to be solved/We are the children that need to be loved," P!nk tells us. "We came when you called." But then, still more dashing of hopes: "But, man, you fooled us, enough is enough."

By the end of the song, P!nk is done with her litany of grievances. Now, she says t's time for action. "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!"

If that sounds like a pep talk for a revolution, well, P!nk seems to know it. Because she quickly walks her rhetoric back just a bit: "I don't want control," she sings, "I want to let go." So maybe she's not fomenting a revolution after all, but just trying to stir up dialogue or conversation or … something.

The song concludes with her recapitulation of all her questions: "What about love? What about trust?/ What about us?"

A Subjective Question

So what do we do with this track? I suspect each individual's response to P!nk's latest will depend a great deal upon who you think the "us" and "you" are that P!nk is singing about.

Some may hear "What About Us?" as a cry for justice and unity, a call to embrace important shared values such as love and trust. Others may perceive P!nk to be delivering a thinly veiled political jab, one that only reinforces existing cultural divisions instead of building bridges across those gaps.

Personally, I can see both interpretations. I believe P!nk is trying to offer a substantive critique of our fractious and fractured cultural moment. But whether she's helping or hurting here remains a subjective question indeed.

Positive Elements

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Topped iTunes' singles chart.

Record Label

RCA Records




August 10, 2017

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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