Pink’s Erotic Lessons, Killers Rock, Jackson’s ‘Bad’ Gems

'The Truth About Love'
"The Truth About Love" by Pink. The sixth studio album by the U.S. singer and songwriter features guest appearances by Eminem and Lily Rose Cooper. Source: RCA via Bloomberg

Pink is busy offering the world erotic lessons. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it: Who better than her?

Pink -- or P!nk as she becomes when she gets excited -- was once plain Alecia Beth Moore, another Britney Spears wannabe. She’s since improved, though not exactly matured. Her new CD “The Truth About Love” is a snappy class in pop hooks.

Her lyrics are witty and veer schizophrenically from tender to tough. First she says that romance is about songs, birds and all the poetry you’ve never heard. Next thing, love is “nasty, it’s salty, it’s regret in the morning and smelling of armpits.”

There’s a “na-na-na” playground chant as the star comes on like a schoolgirl trying to shock with rude words, laddered stockings and cheeky attitude. The aren’t-I-daring single is called “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).” Another look-at-me chorus trills, “You’re an asshole, but I love you.”

“True Love” is the sunniest pop and erupts into an insanely catchy refrain supported by Lily Rose Cooper (the new name of Britain’s Lily Allen).

Last time around on 2008’s “Funhouse,” Pink was lamenting a breakup with her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart. Now they are back together and she’s churning out jaunty little numbers, the sort of thing Madonna used to write in her sleep.

Rating: ***.

Michael Jackson’s “Bad” is rereleased in a 25th-anniversary edition. Back in 1986, the world’s biggest star was determined to beat the success of “Thriller” and started with 60 songs. In 1987 he recorded 30 and ended up releasing 10 -- hoping each one could be a single.

Some of those that missed the cut can be found on disc 2 of the new set. “Streetwalker” is a close relative of “Billie Jean.” “Don’t Be Messin’ ’Round” is mid-paced funk and “Fly Away” is one of Jackson’s most gentle ballads. Not at all bad, not quite true thrillers.

Rating: **** for the original album, *** for the extras.

The fourth studio album by the Killers is weighed with baggage after Republican candidate Mitt Romney declared his fondness for the band’s music. (“Anyone’s allowed to like us,” bassist Mark Stoermer later told Rolling Stone.)

The title “Battle Born” refers to the Nevada flag, the act’s Las Vegas studio and the closing track. This is meat-and-potatoes music with echoes of everyone from Bon Jovi to U2. It’s conservative with a small C, with singer Brandon Flowers -- coincidentally a Mormon like Romney -- leading the call to arms.

This is the Killers’ most straightforward record and it will sell in shedloads. “Runaways” and “Flesh and Bone” have serious words but these anthems are made for college dorms, hairdressing salons or lighter-waving in stadiums. Rating: ***.

“Cruel Summer” is a collaborative album by artists on Kanye West’s Good Music. The 54 minutes are squandered in trying to showcase the company. There is sadly little of the hothouse brilliance that sustained great rap labels from Sugar Hill to the original Def Jam. Production tweaks by West often help to make weak tracks at least listenable. Much of this should not have got off the drawing board. Rating: *.

Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear became one of the hippest names to drop in rock in 2009 with the complex “Veckatimest.” Now “Shields” is another mash of influences, time signatures and styles. The group remains easier to admire and cite knowingly than actually like and listen to. Rating: ***.

What the Stars Mean:
*****      Exceptional
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

Pink is on RCA, Jackson on Sony, Killers on Island, West on Good Music and Grizzly Bear on Warp Records. Prices start at $8 for a single CD, $13 for deluxe editions with extra tracks and $49.98 for the Jackson box set including CDs and a DVD of a 1988 show at Wembley, London. Download fees vary across services.

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(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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