Song: ‘U + Ur Hand’
US chart peak: 9
Release date: October 31, 2006
Writers: Pink, Max Martin, Lukasz Gottwald, Rami Yacoub
Producers: Max Martin, Dr Luke
Quintessential Max Martin Moment: The way those chunky guitar riffs suddenly become synths in the chorus
Video synopsis: The world’s least convincing mechanic, Lady Delish, goes on a night out
Over the course of two and a bit albums, Pink (I refuse to refer to her as P!nk, I’m sorry) came to define herself as pop’s major label rebel without a cause. She was the party-starting (‘Get The Party Started’), pill-popping (‘Just Like A Pill’), trouble-making (‘Trouble’) naughties pop renegade with the flash of neon hair and the potty mouth. By 2003’s ‘Try This’ album, however, things had started to go a little awry, her boozy broad schtick starting to feel a little played out. In fact, ‘Try This’ was such a commercial disaster in America – 750,000 sales compared to (apologies to the English language) ‘Missundaztood’’s 5.6m – that she changed the title of its follow-up from ‘Long Way To Happy’ to the more knowing, ‘I’m Not Dead’.
That album did initially show signs of a slight commercial re-birth, but it was third single ‘U + Ur Hand’ that finally reignited the album’s sales and Pink’s career (the song actually came out after ‘Who Knew’, but its success lead to ‘Who Knew being re-released in America afterwards). ‘I’m Not Dead’ represented the first time Pink had collaborated with Max, who was still in the Strokes-with-proper-choruses phase first ignited by Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’. The pair would go on to work together on 2008’s ‘Funhouse’ album and 2010’s best of album, but would collaborate on just one song on 2012’s ‘The Truth About Love’ (the literally not very good ‘Slut Like You’).
Taken at surface level, ’U + Ur Hand’ is typical Pink – all nudge-nudge, wink-wink innuendos and Camden market t-shirt sloganeering. But a quick scan of the lyrics – about Pink going out for a dance with some friends and not wanting to be ogled or groped by feckless men – throws up some genuinely powerful moments, specifically the chorus’ opening, chant-ready line of “I’m not here for your entertainment” and the use of the criminally under-used “dickhead” in a pop song. Musically it’s all ‘Hey Mickey’ meets Joan Jett in the verses, before the guitars are slowly morphed into new wave-style synths for the unapologetic rush of the chorus. There’s also an example of pop’s greatest stealth attack – the spoken word interlude: “You know who you are, high fivin’, talking shit, but you’re going home alone aren’t cha?”.
Brilliantly, Pink was asked to change the lyrics to ‘U + Ur Hand’ for a performance on American Idol (at a time when a performance on American Idol was still a big deal). The idea was she’d sing ‘U + Ur Heart’ instead, a typically numb-skulled censorship solution that, as Pink delicately pointed out, didn’t actually make any sense. “You want me to rewrite my song for you. For American fucking Idol? What does that even mean, how do you have sex with your heart?” She’d perform the less wank-tastic ‘Who Knew’ instead.