Ariel Pink: ‘Black Ballerina’ Single Review

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Ariel Pink is a busy man. He practically works as his own publicist. Remember that one harmless anecdote, when he took credit for singlehandedly being responsible for rejuvenating Madonna’s career? Or the incident where he was infamously labelled as a “saggy Kurt Cobain” after one of his alleged hookups went sour? Any press is good press, even the kind that makes you seem like a deprived pervert.

To most, the resemblance to Cobain is only superficial. Yet on his new track, “Black Ballerina,” Ariel Pink joins the ranks of self-crazed megalomaniacs (looking at you Kanye West) who can simply write a damn good song.

Pink really tries hard to make you hate him on this track though. Besides the whole egoism and sexism, the premise of this song is a story of a grandfather taking his son to a strip club for the first time. If that doesn’t scream hit, then you probably aren’t a fan of the former Haunted Graffiti frontman. But if this baiting, self-inflicted diatribe hasn’t completely made you nauseated, then you are in for an awesome throwback to the time of synth-crazy dance music and cheese-curd drum machines: the 80s.

The track starts with a robotic bassline that weaves in and out of Pink’s spaced-out voice. In the background, effects fade in and out in a way any 80s hit-maker would be proud of. During the chorus, Ariel Pink chimes in with “elevators, manufacturers” for no apparent reason, except to remind you of the tech-heavy progressions made by his trusty synthesizers.

And then, just like that, we are reminded of Ariel Pink’s large personality. A skit depicting a grandson’s first encounter with a stripper, of course accompanied by his slutty grandpa, might seem way too deviant for pop music. But on “Black Ballerina,” everything seems caricaturized to the point of humor. Grandfather beckons grandson to introduce him to “one of his friends,” said friend turns out to be a stripper, and grandson gets caught getting too frisky with that friend’s “areolas.” It’s all proverbial stuff.

The way Ariel Pink can combine catchy basslines and comedy makes “Black Ballerina” fun, unique, and inventive. It’s not the most genre-bending or thought provoking material, but I’m sure if you know Ariel Pink, you wouldn’t expect that anyway.