Pink agonizes over her parents' screaming matches in the sensationalistic "Family Portrait."
Flustered strings and a gruff bass open the single, setting a tense tone. Pink introduces the song by saying it will be emotionally heavy.
" Uh, uh, some deep s***, uh, uh."
Pink hears her mom's wailing from downstairs. She feels as though she is being ripped apart inside. The sound of glasses breaking never fails to startle her. Earlier in the day, she apologized for her mom to her dad. She hoped it would end the yelling.
"Momma please stop cryin', I can't stand the sound/Your pain is painful and its tearin' me down/I hear glasses breakin' as I sit up in my bed/I told dad you didn't mean those nasty things you
In the pre-chorus, she adds that her parents argue about who spent too much on the credit card for the month and how to handle their kids. Pink compares her home to a battlefield. She doesn't know what love actually is. She's never had a good example. She wants to come out of her family unscatched.
"You fight about money, 'bout me and my brother/And this I come home to, this is my shelter/It ain't easy growin' up in World War III/Never knowin' what love could be, you'll see/I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family."
Pink wonders if her family will ever be whole again. She vows to follow their rules to prevent her dad from walking out and her mom from breaking down.
"Can we work it out? Can we be a family?/I promise I'll be better, Mommy I'll do anything/Can we work it out? Can we be a family?/I promise I'll be better, Daddy please don't leave."
In the second verse, she hears her dad shouting at her mom. She whispers for him to soothe her mom. She doesn't want her mom to get a divorce. She says that her mom does love him, despite what she may say when they fight. She tells him that she loves him.
"Daddy please stop yellin', I can't stand the sound/Make mama stop cryin' 'cause I need you around/My mama she loves you, no matter what she says/It's true/I know that she hurts you, but remember I love you, too/
In the pre-chorus, she can't take it anymore and runs away from home. Her home is an uninviting and scary place to live. She's afraid it will shatter her. She returns home anyway
"I ran away today, ran from the noise (ran away)/Don't wanna go back to that place, but don't have/No choice, no way/
It ain't easy growin' up in World War III...I don't want love to destroy me like it did my family."
After the chorus, is the theatrical bridge. Pink notices a family portrait which was taken years ago. Everyone is dressed up and smiling. Pink urges her parents to be that happy family again and love each other. She doesn't want to be a child of divorce. She doesn't want to have to chose what parent she will have Thanksgiving or Christmas with every year. She doesn't want to two homes. She doesn't want to have to deal with a stepmom or stepbrother. She doesn't want her mom to go back to her maiden name.
"In our family portrait, we look pretty happy/Let's play pretend, let's act like it/
Comes naturally/I don't wanna have to split the holidays/I don't want two addresses/I don't want a stepbrother anyways/And I don't want my mom to have to change her last name."
Children's voices are added to the next part to tug at the heartstrings even more. The children sing the section first. Then, Pink sings it twice. They were just like any other family then. They had their problems but still managed to work through them.
"In our family portrait we look pretty happy/We look pretty normal, let's go back to that/In our family portrait we look pretty happy/Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally/In our family portrait we look pretty happy/We look pretty normal, let's go back to that/In our family portrait we look pretty happy/Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally/In our family portrait we look pretty happy/Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally/In our family portrait we look pretty happy/We look pretty normal, let's go back to that/In our family portrait we look pretty happy/Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally."
A somber Pink begs her dad not to go. As he's on his way out the door, she makes one last ditch effort. She tells him about the one time he accidently took her shining star he had. She asks him not to abandon them. She promises mom won't say anything mean. She'll behave and make sure her brother does, too. She says she will be careful and listen to them. She says she will be his little girl again. She won't even stay out late anymore.
" Daddy don't leave/Daddy don't leave/Daddy don't leave/Turn around please/Remember that the night you left you took my shining star?/Daddy don't leave/Daddy don't leave/Daddy don't leave/Don't leave us here alone/Mom will be nicer/I'll be so much better, I'll tell my brother/Oh, I won't spill the milk at dinner/I'll be so much better, I'll do everything right/I'll be your little girl forever/I'll go to sleep at night."
"Family Portrait" is marred by its histronics. The single willingly allows itself to be a trainwreck. The tragedy is too much to take after a verse and pre-chorus. While it may have been like that when Pink was growing up, it does translate well to song.
The single's use of R&B is mismatched with the troubled strings. It wants to be a power ballad yet at the same time, a tough, unfeeling hip hop song. The children singing in the bridge is also manipulative attempt to garner sympathy.
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