Pink performed “What About Us” and “Beautiful Trauma” on Monday’s “Good Morning America.” Watch the full “GMA” video below!
Pink’s seventh studio album, her first in five years, dropped earlier this month. Her latest single and title track “Beautiful Trauma” was released on Thursday, and its accompanying dance video has been viewed more than 500,000 times since its debut. In addition to the singer’s highly-anticipated album, Pink announced a 40-day North American tour in support of the record. The U.S. tour kicks off in Phoenix on March 1, 2018 and ends on June 2 in Los Angeles, stopping off in Boston, Cleveland, New York, Dallas and Chicago along the way.
Many of the tracks featured on the album deal with Pink’s own relationship with Carey Hart, her husband of 11 years, with whom she’s split a couple of times. After taking a break from their relationship in 2003, the couple tied the knot in 2006. Pink and Hart, who share 6-year-old daughter Willow and 9-month-old son Jameson, later split in 2008, but have remained together ever since.
Prior to the morning show performance, Pink spoke about her relationship with Hart and explained why it’s important to be honest and candid. “I don’t know how to be any other way. [Hart is] used to it, he has thick skin and a really good sense of humor. But a lot of the time, I don’t think he’s listening,” Pink joked. And on touring with her family, including her two young children, she said, “It’s insane. My dressing room looks a lot different now, there’s a lot of cuddly, plush shaggy things. It’s really fun. There’s hard times and beautiful moments.”
This isn’t the first time Pink has performed both songs on TV. As Gossip Copreported, in addition to a powerful performance of “What About Us,” Pink sang “Beautiful Trauma” on “SNL” last weekend, marking her return to the show after 14 years. Watch the full “GMA” performance below!
Amid the online pouting, posing and preening, and in an age when media-trained celebrities are reluctant to stick their heads above the parapet with an opinion, thank goodness there remain “dissenting voices” (her words) to redress the balance. Loudly.
“There are some people who are very successful because they never come out with a political opinion or anything too edgy cos they wanna be liked by everybody,” she says. “That’s not how I was raised to be. We don’t always agree in our family but we talk. We debate.”
She lowers her voice and breaks into an impression of her father Jim, whose nickname is Mr Cause on account of his activism.
“Dissent is the cornerstone of democracy, daughter,” she growls. “And sometimes you have to stand on a hill by yourself!”
She unleashes an earthy cackle.
“See, this is the s**t that’s been in my head since I was two, so I can’t be any other way!”
When Kim Kardashian famously plastered a completely starkers bathroom selfie all over social media last year, it prompted Pink to respond on International Women’s Day with a “shout-out” to women to use their brains, their strength and their talent and to “keep on resisting the urge to cave”.
She didn’t namecheck Kim, but was it a dig?
“I don’t wish anybody ill and I respect everybody’s hustle,” she says today, sitting in a Los Angeles hotel room not far from her home in Venice. “I’ve never pretended to be perfect and I’ve never said I haven’t taken my clothes off in photographs myself.
“But naked selfies in a bathroom don’t boost your self-esteem and I just think there needs to be some voices who are dissenting because right now that’s the majority. The majority want to take their clothes off, take pictures in the bathroom and post it on Instagram or Snapchat or whatever.
“It’s not empowering. You’re not being good at anything. Nobody respects that. They might envy it, they might be jealous of it, they might wanna f**k you. But they don’t respect you.
“There’s nothing wrong with being sexy or in charge of your own body. But let’s all ask ourselves what are we really doing it for because if that’s feminism…? Pfft. Well, it’s not what it used to be.”
She rolls her eyes and says she knows she’ll be accused by some of being self-righteous. Or a hypocrite.
“People can throw rocks at me but I will be one of the voices. I may even get drowned out because there aren’t enough of us. But I’ll tell you: F**k. That. You don’t have to do that to be successful. There are other options.”
After a five-year hiatus from releasing new music, during which she gave birth to her second child, wrote her new album, and turned in a few live performances,it’s good to see that Alecia Beth Moore, 38, has lost none of her chutzpah. She’s a sheer joy to interview;full of wit, warmth and intelligence, and with brilliant, effortless comic timing.
The pop world has missed her but Pink is very definitely back – new album Beautiful Trauma boasts some of her strongest vocals to date. The first single What About Us, a soaring synth-heavy dance track that peaked at No.3 in the UK this summer, has been labelled a political protest song, railing against the ascendancy of Donald Trump. She says the timing of the release was “like kismet”.
Trump might be a figure of fun to some, but Pink’s not laughing.
“This country [America] is in a really s**tty spot right now with separation and segregation and racist s**t going on.
There’s nothing funny about promoting hatred. He’s a bully.
“I don’t actually think he’s that powerful. I really don’t. I think he’s inspiring more powerful people to do awful things… but himself? I think he’s just kind of an idiot.
“If you look at his businesses, he’s bankrupted so many of them. I know a lot of really successful business people and they’ve never done that. Maybe once. But not like four or five times.”
So what happened? How did he end up as president of the United States?
“The spectrum of human potential is amazing. Human beings can be absolutely amazing and human beings can be absolutely vile. I can be f**king amazing and I can be so awful I hate myself.
“What he did was bring out the worst in all of us.
He made people think it was OK to be that. I think that’s what’s happened, and the butterfly effect means that the world is in a shambles.
“But there are more good people than bad. And that’s why this album is called Beautiful Trauma, because life is traumatic, but there are a lot of beautiful people doing beautiful things and you can’t hold us down.
“And rock bottom is a great place to start to change. I try to think that because otherwise it’s really scary.”
In the past 17 years, Pink has sold over 40 million albums and 70 million singles (including Don’t Let Me Get Me, Just Like A Pill and Just Give Me A Reason), winning three Grammys, a Brit and a shedload of MTV awards.
Her fiery 16-year relationship with former motocross racer Carey Hart, 42, has become almost as legendary as her music, not least because she’s documented their many trials in her lyrics, perhaps most famously with 2008 break-up anthem So What. They married in 2006 and went on to have daughter Willow, six, and son Jameson, 10 months.
“Carey and I just scratch our heads sometimes. We’ve been together for 16 years off and on – mostly on – and sometimes you look at someone and you think: ‘I could never live without you. You get me in a way that no one else could.’
“And then literally five minutes later it’s like: ‘I’ve never liked you. There’s nothing I like about you. I don’t ever want to talk to you ever again.’ Ha ha!
“There are rough times and there is always that fantasy, that parallel universe, the what if, what could? Are we even right for each other after all this time?
“But at the end of the day… we’re never done with each other. Even when we thought we were done, we weren’t. And thank god because we went on to have our two babies. So we just keep fighting the good fight and I keep writing songs about it.”
The blazing rows that used to characterise the relationship have subsided now. They attend regular couples therapy for “maintenance” and have a rule that they don’t fight nasty in front of the kids.
“We’re a lot better than we used to be, but when we’re really mad at each other it’s really ugly. My parents, they hated each other. It was WW3 in our house, it was eff you, get the eff out, and Carey and I swore we’d never do that.
“But if we have a truth that we need to talk about, yeah we’ll disagree in front of Willow. Conflict resolution is really important to teach kids. We’re human, we’re not always going to agree. I don’t even agree with myself half the time! And Willow needs to see that.
“So we disagree and we communicate but we don’t fight. And what it comes down to is that I’m right and he’s wrong. Ha!”
Ask her how she’s coping with the sleeplessness since Jameson came along last December and she crosses her eyes in mock delirium.
“It’s the most amazing, overwhelming, beautiful, terrifying blessing in the world. And yet sometimes I can’t believe how sad I feel. Ha ha ha!
“It’s all down to sleep deprivation. There’s a reason they use that as a torture device. I haven’t quite figured [parenthood] out yet.”
Not figured it out? Anyone who watched Pink’s now famous “We don’t change” speech at the VMAs in August, as she accepted the prestigious Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, might argue with that. She used the opportunity to deliver a poignant message to Willow, who had recently confided out of the blue: “Mama, I’m the ugliest girl I know.”
In the speech Pink told Willow: “Baby girl, we don’t change. We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl and we help other people to change so that they see more kinds of beauty.”
The clip went viral. And no one is more surprised than Pink herself, although her overwhelming feeling is one of sadness that it made such an impact.
“In some ways I think that’s beautiful because girls and boys need to hear that they’re OK just the way they are, but it’s also really sad that it resonated with so many people. Just how many people are feeling that way and raising kids who are feeling that way? It makes my heart hurt.”
She says Willow has been distinctly unimpressed by the attention it brought – Pink and Carey are currently grappling with making sure she’s as unaffected by their fame as possible.
“How to bring her up in this circus we live in and make sure she has a healthy outlook on how society views celebrity women and celebrity in general is going to be a lifelong conversation.
“I tell her being famous is just silly. It really doesn’t matter. The only thing it’s good for is dinner reservations – that part’s awesome, by the way – but other than that it’s dumb.”
There are other perks, though. Being able to call on Eminem to work with you on your album, for example. Pink managed to coax the enigmatic rapper out of wherever he’s been hiding and convince him to feature on Revenge, the second track on Beautiful Trauma.
“I just love him,” says Pink. “He’s a lyrical genius. I’m a feminist and I fight for gay rights and women’s rights, whereas he says the most f**ked up things. But he makes me think that sometimes can’t we just take the p**s and take some of the heaviness out of this stuff? This song is just fun.”
The latest collaboration (they previously worked together on Won’t Back Down in 2010) came about after Pink sent him a drunken email “basically professing my undying love for him”.
She says: “I wrote the song with Max Martin and Shellback, and we were drinking a lot of wine. It started as a joke. I said I wanted a rap Grammy! I wanna rap Grammy!
“And then I went home and I was kinda thinking about it and thought: I want Eminem on this song. So I emailed him: ‘Dude, you know I love you, I’ve loved you since I asked you for your autograph in 2001 at the MTV Awards and I know Rihanna’s way hotter than me but I’m funnier! And I wanna rap with you, I wanna rap Grammy and I want you to be on this song with me.’
“And he just wrote back: ‘OK.’ And then four days later, there it was.”
But then, Pink’s probably not the sort of woman many people say no to. She has always had drive and ambition, although she says she’s had to work harder than some of her contemporaries to be accepted by the mainstream.
“People who don’t like me say: ‘Ah, she’s snarling and bitching about boys and it’s that whole loud Pink thing and I can only listen to her when I’m on a treadmill.’
“I’m very polarising. I have a lot of opinions. I’m one of those females who you’re either gonna agree with or never want to listen to again. And I’m cool with that because it’s authentic.”
However, she has mellowed ever so slightly. Motherhood has done that.
“I didn’t used to be very thoughtful about things. And I think it’s a product of age and being a mom that I consider more now, which makes things more nerve-wracking.”
She pauses for the punchline. “Because, believe me, it’s a lot easier to just blow s**t up and keep moving.”
Besides her own brood, husband Carey Hart and their children Willow and Jameson, there are the band members, dancers and inner circle who have been with her for more than a decade.
They are a tight-knit crew but not a clique. Newcomers to the fold are welcomed with a warm hug as I discovered when I joined P!nk on the UK leg of her summer tour in August.
I’m not exactly a newcomer to the team; Alecia Moore and I have known each other since she coerced me into drinking white chocolate martinis with her during our first interview in 2000. I haven’t drunk one since and have zero plans to ever do so again.
Whenever we reconnect it is the same. Our interview time is quickly eroded by minutes of shared laughter. Pretty much everything she says is hysterically funny and almost always self-deprecating.
But this is the first chance I have had to meet the extensive crew who keep P!nk on the road and as the singer would say herself, they’re a rad bunch.
The team had enjoyed a big family dinner hosted by Alecia, as she is known to her friends and family, the night before to celebrate being back on the road as the What About Us pop star launched her campaign to usher seventh album Beautiful Trauma into the world.
And backstage in their V Festival compound everyone is cheering as Willow competes in a cartwheel competition with one of the dancers or shoots Nerf guns with her new best friend, the daughter of guest British musician James Gillespie.
“The best thing about getting the band back together, the first day I got notes from everybody, teary lovefest notes about how happy and proud everybody was to be back,” she said.
“When I am in my head, they pull me straight back into my heart.”
The feeling is very mutual. From keyboardist James Chapman who has been with her for 18 years to the “freshest” member Eva Gardner who joined the band a decade ago, those who help P!nk bring her music to the people all credit their boss for the good vibes.
“It starts from the top. All of us have played with lots of different artists but there’s nothing like this. This is a really special situation and I think that’s because she’s special,” Gardner says.
Backing vocalist Stacy Campbell, who has also worked with Cher, Tina Turner and Janet Jackson said it occurred to her during the Truth About Love tour in 2013 that P!nk’s team is a reflection of the artist herself.
“On the last tour, it hit me. We must be parts of her. She is the whole; she is the guitar player, she’s the background singer acting like a nut, she’s the drummer bashing the s … out of things. She’s the keyboard player playing the melodies, she’s the dancer. It occurred to me that we are her dissected into a bunch of pieces,” she says.
Drummer Mark Schulman said the unified dynamic is particularly unique when you consider the crew has been created by the pop star rather than forming as an organic band.
“The truth is, like any other job we are all individually selected. It’s not like we came together as a band, we were either auditioned or invited,” he said.
“And that is hit and miss. Trust me, I’ve been touring for a long time, nearly 30 years. Fortunately most of the tours I’m on, we all get on extremely well but this is extraordinary. You are doing 10, 12 hour bus rides and if you don’t get along with the people on the bus in very cramped quarters it can be very challenging.”
Their boss also loves to play matchmaker. More than a few marriages and babies have resulted from the unions formed within Team P! nk.
Guitarist Justin Derrico who has been in the fold for 11 years met his wife, dancer Clare Turton on his first tour with her.
“Because of Alecia, I met my wife Clare and now we have a child. She was one of the dancers on my first tour with Alecia. We became really good friends and now we’ve been together for 10 years. So thank you for the rest of my life,” he said.
“And I’m not the only one. Tracey, one of the dancers, met her fiance on the last tour. There’s been all these relationships and kids to come out of this family.”
Mention their return to Australia next year for the two-month leg of the Beautiful Trauma tour and everyone gushes enthusiastically. These tourists all have their favourite haunts — and love of flat whites — and take as much opportunity to explore as P!nk when she and the family settle into their Down Under groove.
Ask why they think she has built such an intense and resounding rapport with her Australian fans and they all the same thing.
“I love Australians. They are call it as they see it people. They really like no bulls …. What I believe it is about Alecia that resonates is she’s tough and she’s honest but she’s playful. That’s an Aussie win,” Schulman said.
Her bonhomie backstage and on stage is contagious. But there is also a side to this most honest of pop stars which she rarely reveals outside of the confines of her dressing room or tour bus.
She is a hard-ass perfectionist and can judge herself harshly. While tens of thousands of people in front of her stage at the V festival in Essex gave her a resounding reception for the gig, P!nk said she was a sobbing mess when she came offstage.
The rush of adrenaline which slammed through her system after she ziplined from a giant hook dangling above the main stage onto the catwalk briefly threw her off her game.
She messed up the words to the latest hit single What About Us — the crowd sang along anyway — and covered it brilliantly by joking “it takes me four years to learn a new song”.
“I’m glad you got to see possibly the roughest show of my entire life that has ever happened in the history of all time,” she tells me in her dressing room the next night, ahead of her V festival set in Sheffield.
“The audience was amazing, a-mazing and no one said it was as awful as I thought it was. I got off stage last night, went to the tour bus and sobbed like a baby.
“Everyone was ‘What are you talking about?’ But you don’t know what it’s like in here (points to her head).
“Now, it’s already better. I did hear there were people having sex. My friend Laura Wilson was walking around and she thought she saw two girls fall down.
“But then she looked again and they started gyrating on each other. I’ve never seen it in the crowd but I’ve heard about it.”
The fact is P!nk and Alecia are exactly the same person. The pop star is not a persona nor a heightened version of the wife, mother and friend who is at the centre of this family.
“This is my real life; I am surrounded by beautiful people all the time who are into living life and making memories, sharing great bottles of wine and laughing and all that,” she said.
”Pop music is about feeling free and happy and inclusive and all that. That’s why live shows are the best because you stand there and close your eyes and feel. You’re not thinking. It’s the perfect place to be.”
As they gathered backstage before a concert in Berlin to watch the video, which has now had 75 million views, tears streamed down the faces of her tour family.
“I cried while I was singing it. We were crying on set as we did the video,” she says as her tour bus rolls out of London, heading for the V festival in Chelmsford, Essex.
The first single from Beautiful Trauma, her seventh studio album, had already barrelled to the top of the charts in Australia. And its powerfully emotive video, directed by British filmmaker Georgia Hudson, confirmed the initial impressions this was a protest song, an anthem for those who felt disenfranchised in a world gone mad.
It wasn’t her first pick for the single to reintroduce Alecia Moore, known as P!nk to millions of fans for the past 18 years. It was the last track she wrote for an album she had spent three years working on, penning more than 50 songs.
When she has mixed politics with pop, the Get The Party Started singer hasn’t always been met with universal approval.
Her 2006 song, Dear Mr President, an open letter to then US President George W. Bush protesting his administration’s record on equal rights, poverty and the Iraq war, provoked a firestorm of hate from those who didn’t agree with her social conscience. She was even booed in concert by Bush supporters, who also happened to be P!nk fans while supporting Justin Timberlake on the American leg of his FutureSex/LoveShow tour in 2007.
But every time she played What About Us to anyone, the response was an immediate and emphatic “hell yeah!” And when Willow Hart, the daughter of Alecia Moore and her motocross champion husband Carey Hart, proclaimed it as her favourite, its first single fate was sealed.
“It became her favourite,” P!nk says, pointing at Willow who is playing Monopoly with her dad and nanny.
“It got me thinking. ‘Oh, that’s weird if a six-year-old likes it. That was not what I expected.”
Willows asks her mum why she thought it was weird.
“I don’t know … it seems to be an older, more serious song, I guess. But it’s not, is it? It just feels good. And every time I heard it, it grew on me and grew on me and grew on me
and grew on me.
“And obviously if your head is not completely in your ass, then you are aware of what’s going on in the world, and it felt more and more like my truth.
“I’m known for bombastic, gimmicky, screamy, obnoxious, heartbroken first singles; So What, Raise Your Glass. And I loved that this wasn’t that. It just felt more true” .
When P!nk completed her 2013 The Truth About Love world tour, after 140 concerts in America, Europe and Australia, she needed time out.
There were two projects on top of her list. The first was a creative one, a duets album with her friend Dallas Green, the Canadian singer songwriter known as City and Colour. Calling themselves You+Me, they released their musical joint venture of acoustically driven folk — including a version of Sade’s No Ordinary Love, in October 2014.
And then P!nk started working on a project with her husband with the working title Baby No.2. Their son Jameson was born last December and his mum isn’t the only one who wants to “eat his face off”. He is one adorable little boy.
While the Harts were trying to procreate, she kept creatively engaged by writing songs for movies.
“I spent a year just writing for movies, just to try it, just to see. Why not?” she says.
“I had never had this kind of time. It was fun writing just to write, without being on a deadline, without expectations.
“So I got to write a lot of different stuff. I kept going, things picked up and then it was ‘OK, here we go.’”
One of her soundtrack submissions proved to a supremely successful stop gap for fans patiently awaiting something new from the Who Knew chart-topper.
Just Like Fire was released as a single from the Alice Through The Looking Glass soundtrack last year and topped the Australian charts on its second week, going on to reach triple platinum here with more than 200,000 copies sold.
Like many of her clips in recent years, her husband and daughter made a cameo in the music video.
She proved to be on a pyromania roll when she returned to the charts a few months later as the featured artist on Setting The World On Fire, a single from American country music star Kenny Chesney. With her assist, it became his highest chart entry in Australia, peaking at No. 26.
And then she returned to the Australian top 20 when she joined with Sia to sing on Waterfall from EDM artist Stargate.
P!nk confirms she wrote several songs with her friend Sia for Beautiful Trauma but none made the cut. It was tough competition; she had 50 songs to choose from, co-written with some of the world’s most famous hitmakers.
Jack Antonoff is the writer and producer she worked with on the title track. Lovers of pop trivia would recognise his name firstly from his days in pop band fun. and then as the sonic architect who helped Lorde and Taylor Swift sculpt their recent musical offerings.
As well as Beautiful Trauma, another hit-in-waiting called Better Life, a commentary inspired by the unreal world of Instagram, was among “the bunch” she created with Antonoff.
“I had worked with Nate from fun for Just Give Me A Reason,” she says.
“I thought Jack and I might have fun together and I was right. I just love his whole thing. He’s this quirky Bruce Springsteen loving rad New Jersey dude. I just love him.
“Did you hear Better Life? That’s another one inspired by Instagram. I want to start an account that is actually the real stuff, how you actually look when you wake up in the morning or when you’re having an argument.
That breastfeeding photo I did the other day … I do post a lot of “I probably shouldn’t have posted that” photos. It looked weird.”
During her years of writing “slow, sad songs” which reminded her of Adele, through to rediscovering her “fun songs’ side and socially conscious affirming anthems — and having a baby — she reconnected with Max Martin, the Swedish producer with the Midas touch who has been crafting the sound of now for the past two decades.
He produced Revenge, one of the album’s “fun” tracks which she also jokes but also hopes will score her a nomination for a Best Rap Grammy.
It features a Grammy-winning rapper whose identity has been much rumoured but will be confirmed when Beautiful Trauma is released on Friday.
P!nk and her team swore everyone who has heard the song to secrecy. And who wants to be the one to spoil a P!nk surprise?
Another of her favourite collaborators was Issues chart slayer Julia Michaels. The 23-year-old emerging pop star already had credits on tracks by Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony, Selena Gomez, Hailee Steinfeld, Justin Bieber, Rita Ora and Britney Spears before busting out as an artist with her own single.
“She’s so good, so good. She’s really comfortable in her delicateness. She’s very, very talented and her strength is in that delicateness,”’ P!nk says.
“Most people who have that try to hide it, camouflage it a little bit but she is comfortable with it. I found it really easy with her. And she’s just a cool chick, quirky and cool. And a lot is happening for her right now.”
She cites one of her favourite track is Barbies. And no, it’s not an ode to that great Australian cooking tradition.
“I love Barbies, Willow loves Barbies,” she says.
“There were five different versions of this album and I didn’t finalise it until four days ago.
“It was really hard. It’s like leaving out a child, it’s awful. What could I live without for now? I would change it tomorrow.”
Everything you need to know about P!nk’s seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma, is right there in its choice of lead single, the enervated ballad “What About Us?”
On the other end of the spectrum is the title track and opening cut, which is pop/rock as just about no one but the artist born Alecia Moore knows how to properly deliver: Elegant and bloody, shimmering and grungy. “Tough times, they keep coming/ All night, laughing and fucking,” P!nk sings on the pumped-up pre-chorus, over a throbbing, stately synth-rock soundscape from producer-of-the-moment Jack Antonoff that gives the song flight without robbing it of its gravity. It’s life-affirming without being pandering. It’s widescreen highs, it’s blinds-shutting lows. It’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).” It’s “Raise Your Glass.” It’s P!nk, dammit, as even her most casual fans would know to ID her. It’s the perfect lead single. And it wouldn’t have made any sense for Beautiful Trauma’s introduction whatsoever.
Instead, P!nk opted for “What About Us?” as the album’s first taste: a world-weary howl delivered over a dolorous 4/4 pulse that strongly echoes Coldplay’s spectral EDM foray “A Sky Full of Stars,” but still projects primarily as “ballad.” The song initially reads as a relationship-gone-awry plea for sanity: “What about all the plans that ended in disaster? What about love? What about trust? What about us?” Closer reading (or watching the song’s video) reveals that the song is actually more about disillusionment, with the government and He Who Shall Not Be Named: “We are children that need to be loved… But man, you fooled us, enough is enough.” Either way, the song trembles with hurt, anger and fear; it’s anthemic, but the rallying cry is one of tested faith and anxiety over what comes next. And that’s Beautiful Trauma.
But first off: To properly appreciate how improbable it is we’re even still talking about P!nk in 2017, you need to go back to the liner notes of 2000 debut album Can’t Take Me Home and look at some of her producers on that set: Babyface, Kandi Burruss, Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs. That’s how many pop eons ago it was when Moore first made her debut. She began in the age of Destiny’s Child, and after coming into her own on 2001 blockbuster LP M!ssundaztood, subsequently navigated her way through the eras of Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Fergie, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift — all without radically changing her sound or personality, and all without losing her place in the pop stratosphere. In a recent New York Times profile, she attributed her staying power to never being at the center of top 40’s orbit: “If you look at any paragraph about pop music, I don’t get mentioned — my name doesn’t come up. And yet, here I go again, right under the wave, duck-diving.”
P!nk’s greatness — four Hot 100 No. 1 hits, 15 top 10 hits, five multi-platinum-certified albums in six tries — may have consistently flown below the radar, but she’s finally seeing some appreciation for how underappreciated she’s been. Following a series of early-decade award-show performances that stunned with their virtuosity and grace, she’s developed a reputation as one of pop’s premier artists, and her longtime work as a leading music video artist earned her MTV’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award at this year’s VMAs. She’s a legit live draw with has a deep catalog of hits she can tour behind forever, and even if her increasingly adult pop/rock doesn’t necessarily lie at the heart of streaming, she’ll live on pop radio (“What About Us” climbed to No. 11 on Radio Songs this week) until she doesn’t want it anymore. She’s also been married for over a decade, and now has two kids that she’s notably attached to. She’s never had less to prove, but she’s also never had more to lose. And on Beautiful Trauma, she sounds scared shitless by that.
The first two tracks on the set — the title track and the Eminem-featuring “Revenge” — feature the freewheeling P!nk we’ve come to know best this millennium. P!nk doubles down on the volatile romance of her opener with “Revenge,” which with its warm organs, sauntering groove, and sweetly sentimental chorus, seems totally at odds with the song’s subject of mutually assured betrayal (“We can do revenge together”). In the hands of Alecia and Marshall, the double-cheating sounds downright intimate, a healthy outlet for bad relationship vibes that ends with the couple sounding closer than ever for their unfaithfulness. Surprise surprise, Eminem’s contribution is especially virulent: He screeches “SLUT!” at his female lead and ends his verse threatening “You’re a whore, you’re a whore, this is war!” It’s uncomfortable, but part of P!nk’s appeal has always been her ability to stay unflinching as she gives as good as she gets, and you can imagine her chuckling to herself during Em’s invective, plotting her own return fire.
But even if she’s not scared of her quick-triggered co-star, Beautiful Trauma quickly shows that P!nk is far from totally fearless this days. After the album’s opening gambit, the album downshifts with the Max Martin-as-Stargate acoustic shuffle of “Whatever You Want” — in which P!nk dubs her relationship a sinking vessel, but determines to go down with the ship — and never quite winds up again. The set isn’t necessarily draggy: “Where We Go” is propelled by a Robin Schulz-like loping guitar melody, while “Secrets” even has a touch of deep house to it. But it is unmistakably heavy, especially compared to past P!nk collections; even 2012 predecessor The Truth About Love is sparked by far more pop-punk spunk than you may remember. That sense of levity disappears from Trauma almost completely after its first two cuts, and there’s still 11 songs to go.
It’s an often brutal listen — likely for husband Carey Hart more than anyone, though it’s dangerous to read too much explicit autobiography into P!nk’s lyrics, especially since she and Hart are reportedly on good footing these days, and most of the IRL worries she expresses understandably involve her kids and the world they’re growing up in. But relationship insecurity certainly seems to have fueled the album on some level, as some moments seem far too vivid to be phoned in.
The rawest comes via final track “You Get My Love” — P!nk has long excelled at the showstopping closer — in which Moore and co-writer Tobias Jesso Jr. detail a scenario in which the singer prepares to confess an unforgivable sin to her sleeping beloved once he wakes, silently begging him to accept that even if he can’t trust anything else about her afterwards, trust that she still loves him. It’s the grown-ass flip side of “Revenge,” in which the stakes of a relationship are simply too great to laugh off something like an affair with a “Well I’ll show HIM!” smirk, and P!nk delivers it with such quaking dread that you can practically feel the film of cold sweat on her skin, can hear her heart jumping out of her chest. Scale down the belting on the chorus, and you can imagine it as an emotional nadir on side four of The River.
Beautiful Trauma will likely prove a transition album in P!nk’s formidable discography, one that after 17 years of consistent pop hitmaking, may finally see her largely ceding top 40 in pursuit of loftier goals — some Grammys, perhaps, and maybe general acceptance among an NPR crowd of fellow parents. Or not: “What About Us” reaches a new peak of No. 25 on the Hot 100 this week, while “Revenge” is said to have an video on the way that “recall[s] the MTV glory days.” P!nk has been inextricable to the pop world for so long that she’s officially central until proven marginal. She may use Beautiful Trauma to pivot to a second career as a confessional singer/songwriter. Or maybe next time she’ll go with the Jack Antonoff song as the lead single, and reclaim the pop charts as her own from there.
Pink knows what it’s like to have struggled with confidence as a young person and she doesn’t want her own kids, Willow, 6, and Jameson, 9 months, to suffer the same anguish.
In fact, the “Perfect” singer revealed this week that her No. 1 concern as a mom is that her children grow up with healthy self-esteem.
“Because of what I went through being a girl and being a kid and being a little bit different from everyone else, my biggest fear is self-esteem for my kids,” the “Perfect” singer, 38, said Wednesday at Apple’s premiere of the short film “On the Record: Pink: Beautiful Trauma,” according to Us Weekly.
Her lack of self-esteem as a young person made her treat herself “really badly,” the singer admits.
“I didn’t expect other people to treat me with respect and I didn’t demand it and I didn’t have boundaries and I gave my power away over and over and over,” said the candid star.
Although Pink often encourages fans to love themselves no matter how gloriously offbeat they are — and gave a show-stopping speech at this year’s MTV VMAs advising little Willow to do the same — she admits it took a long time to learn to cultivate self-respect, and to demand respect from others.
“That was something I had to learn in my life, was how to have boundaries and how to love myself, and what to love myself for and how to demand respect,” said the Grammy winner. “Just all these life lessons.”
Now, she looks at her young daughter and wishes she could share what she’s learned over the years about the life-saving power of loving yourself.
“I see my 6-year-old and I’m like, ‘I just want to give you the sh-t that I already know,'” she said. “But you can’t borrow somebody else’s knowledge, you have to buy your own. I know that too.”
“It sucks when you’re a mom,” added the star. “I don’t want my kids to buy their own knowledge, I just want them to swallow mine.”