Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Pink: Missundaztood [Arista, 2001]
Teen idols have matured at their peril since Del Shannon told us the name he was born with, and between the Internet gossip roast and Carson Daly's Dick Clark act, the current crop will have it even tougher. Which makes this meeting of L.A. Reid's double-platinum Philadelphia white girl and justly forgotten 4 Non Blondes emoter Linda Perry even more of a feat. These are pop songs in the sense that they deliver their payloads in 90 seconds. But they're also confessional, dark, downtempo--and, OK, a little gauche sometimes, which just makes them seem realer. Despite Pink's audacious claim that she's not as pretty as "damn Britney Spears," celebrity anxiety takes a backseat to a credible personal pain rooted in credible family travails, a pain held at bay by expression. Artistically, it's a next step for a genre I never thought would take one. I wish I believed Justin Timberlake's solo debut will sound half as honest, frustrated, and fulfilled. A