Seasoned rocker that she is, Pink knows how to work an arena.
“If there’s 10,000 people, I can pick out that one person that is the brother that had to drive his sister,” she laughed. “Nine-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine people are having a good time, I can pick out the one that isn’t!”
That’s because no one sees her fans quite like Pink does — spinning and snarling, equal parts pixie and badass, Pink has been making music for the better part of two decades.
Her music has been called by one critic “tough chick music.”
“In a box of crayons, that’s probably one color,” she said. “‘Cause some people think I’m a tough chick; some people think I’m the gooiest, most sensitive little delicate bird they’ve ever met in their life. So it just depends on the day.”
And the truth is? “The truth is, it’s all true!” Pink laughed. “And then some! It’s a very large box of crayons!”
The latest shade of Pink is “Beautiful Trauma,” her seventh solo album, which is out this week. Its first single is “What About Us”:
“It’s a protest song about people in this country and in many countries that just feel invisible and feeling forgotten,” she said.
We are searchlights, we can see in the dark
We are rockets, pointed up at the stars
We are billions of beautiful hearts
And you sold us down the river too far …
We are problems that want to be solved
We are children that need to be loved
We were willing, we came when you called
But man you fooled us, enough is enough
For Pink, those feelings go all the way back to her childhood, and her turbulent home in Doylestown, Pa. Her parents split when she was eight. “I mean, I prayed for a divorce; I wanted the fighting to end,” she said.
Her outlet was singing.
She gave her first public performance at just nine years old. “It was just pretty bad. But it was sweet,” she said.
Smith said, “But at the time, it probably felt — ”
“It was amazing. I played with live band at nine. I had a crush on the drummer! It was awesome.”
Back then, and to her friends today, she was Alecia Moore. But she chose her stage name early on.
Smith said, “There are differing stories on Pink, the name.”
“There are some more suitable than others,” she said. “They’re all true.”
The G-rated version is that an elementary school prank made her blush, and people started calling her “Pink.” But, as they quickly discovered, there was a lot more to her than just a catchy name.
Pink signed a deal with R&B producer L.A. Reid when she was barely out of her teens. And her very first album (“Can’t Take Me Home”) sold more than three million copies.
Still, she knew she could do more.
“I was being put into this very small box of, ‘You’re our token white girl,'” Pink said. “And I was like, ‘Well, that’s not enough. I have a lot to say. I’ve lived a lot in a short time.
“I wanted to figure out what I missed out on in the ’60s and ’70s when people were hanging out together and making music and talking about real stuff. So I did. I leaped. And that was ‘Missunderztood.'”
On “Missunderztood,” her second album, Pink collaborated with songwriters she chose, making music her way. The payoff was huge — 11 million records sold worldwide.
In the years since, what’s endeared her to critics and fans is what Pink’s music is about. “The theme of my music is living your life and being who you are and speaking your truth,” she said. “Fly your flag!”
Pretty, pretty, please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than, less than perfect
Pretty, pretty, please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you’re nothing. You are perfect to me
In her concerts, the soaring emotions of her songs are paired with a lot of soaring. Her Grammy performance in 2010 left just about everyone breathless, except Pink herself, thanks to years of training with an aerialist.
“And she’s like, ‘Well, okay. We’re gonna start at the jungle gym. And you’re gonna hang upside down and I’m gonna punch you in the stomach while you sing. Because that’s what you’re gonna ultimately feel like when you’re singing. And if you can do this, then I’ll start teaching you acrobatics.'”
She may look fearless. But she knows where to draw the line. “A couple weeks ago, I jumped from a construction crane. That was scary — that took me about 3 songs to calm down.”
Still, what keeps Pink up at night is being a mom. Her daughter Willow is six. “The worry was the part I wasn’t prepared for. That’s the part they don’t tell you about. I admire the parents that don’t worry and that are just like, ‘It was only ten stairs.'”
“You, who jumps off cranes?”
“Yeah, but I know what I’m doing. And it’s me. But I can’t have her hurt herself. She’s my little bean. And now he’s my little meatball.”
He is nine-month-old Jameson. Dad is her husband of 11 years, motocross star Carey Hart, the inspiration for many of her songs.
Sometimes I hate every single stupid word you say
Sometimes I wanna slap you in your whole face
There’s no one quite like you
You push all my buttons down
I know life would suck without you
“He’s my muse,” she said. “He is a wonderful man and a wonderful dad and sometimes a terrible boyfriend.
“I love him. I knew the second time we broke up that we weren’t finished. We just have a story that we’re writing together and we’re just never done.”
Today, they live on a sprawling farm in California — a model of domestic bliss that has its limits. A model of domestic bliss that has its limits. “I give myself ten days before I’m climbing the walls. But that’s a really nice ten days.”
Truth is, with her new album, the party Pink started is still very much on. And as for how it’ll end, well, Pink has an idea: “In a tutu in Vegas at 69.”
“Spinnin’ around in the air?” asked Smith.
“Spinning around. I don’t know if it’s gonna be a good look, but it’s gonna be fun still,” she laughed. “I may just be going very slowly, floating on something.”
If that something is the adoration of her fans, Pink will still be flying high.