One of the most compelling pop stars of the 2000s, Pink spent her first five albums straddling genres or ignoring them entirely. Though her songs often recall the work of confessional female singer-songwriters, no one has ever accused her of being a folkie; early on, in fact, she presented herself as an R&B diva. Later, collaborations with Aerosmith's Steve Tyler and Rancid's Tim Armstrong — as well as live covers of hits by bands like AC/DC, Queen, and the Divinyls — established what she calls her "rock moves." At the same time, Pink has sounded as any conflicted as any grunge or hip-hop icon about her own stardom; in a couple of her better-known songs, she expressly set herself in opposition to teen idols of her era, even though it's not clear that many fans had lumped her in with them in the first place.
Born Alecia Beth Moore in 1979, to a nurse and a Vietnam veteran in the working class Philadelphia suburb of Doylestown, Pink endured a childhood that her songs have often depicted as tumultuous. But by early adolescence she was dancing and singing for local hip-hop troupes and pop-rock bands, as well as writing her own dark lyrics.
Before long she was drafted as a member of a couple of major-label-corralled R&B groups that never wound up releasing records. But those connections led to a solo contract with L.A. Reid's LaFace Records, which put out her debut album, Can't Take Me Home (Number 26), in 2000; on the cover, as would become her habit, she spelled her name, "P!nk." Largely an R&B effort in the mode of TLC and Destiny's Child, and full of semi-symphonic breakdowns and complicated rhythms from producers like She'ksphere and Dallas Austin, the record produced three more-or-less soundalike hits, two of which — "There You Go" and "Most Girls" — went Top Ten in the U.S.
In 2001, Pink appeared with Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and Mya on cover of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" that was spawned by the film Moulin Rouge. The song topped the pop charts, but Pink began expressing second thoughts about her dance-pop image. And though she had another Top Ten pop hit and took home a pile of MTV Music Video Awards for the upbeat pumper "Get The Party Started," which could easily have fit onto her debut, she had other directions in mind.
Her second album, late 2001's revealingly named Missundaztood (Number 6), was full of inward-looking laments with uncelebratory titles ("Misery," "Numb," "Dear Diary," "My Vietnam," "Family Portrait"); eight of 14 tracks were written with Linda Perry, from Nineties hippie-revivalists 4 Non Blondes. "L.A. told me/You'll be a pop star," Pink complained in one. "All that you'll have to change/Is everything you are/ Tired of being compared/To damn Britney Spears/She's so pretty/That just ain't me." But despite L.A. Reid's reported initial reluctance, Missundaztood wound up going platinum five times over — more than doubling the success of its seemingly more commercial predecessor.
The even more explicitly rock-oriented Try This (Number 9, 2003), Pink's third album, came out two years later. But it never quite exploded, despite eight songs fully or partially credited to Rancid's Tim Armstrong — which is to say, it sold a mere million copies in the U.S. Its biggest hit — the pop-punkish "Trouble" — peaked at a modest Number 68 in Billboard, but also earned Pink a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. She also took home a Brit Award for Best International Female Artist in 2003.
Pink's next two albums went platinum as well, and she's managed to stay in the spotlight even when she hasn't had current product on the shelves. Songs she co-wrote have been recorded by artists ranging from Faith Hill to Lisa Marie Presley to Hilary Duff; she's appeared in movies such as Rollerball and Catacombs; and she's made a name as a vocal supporter of PETA's animal-rights causes.
Though it took a few years to come out, 2006's I'm Not Dead (Number Six) certainly lived up to its title in terms of the visibility of its songs — the Indigo Girls-assisted anti-Dubya protest "Dear Mr. President" only scored on radio overseas, but "Stupid Girls" went Top Twenty in the U.S. right off the bat, helped by a promotional clip that skewered theoretically more frivolous girlies Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson and won an MTV Best Pop Video Award. I'm Not Dead didn't really take off, though, until the Top Ten early 2007 hit "U + Ur Hand," wherein Pink informed a lousy suitor that he'd be pleasuring himself alone for the night.
In 2008, Pink finally managed a Number One pop single with one of her own songs — the feisty "So What," ostensibly a chronicle of her on-again/off-again relationship with motocrosser Carey Hart, whom she'd married in 2005 and separated from a couple years later. (The couple eventually reconciled.) Pink's fifth album, Funhouse (Number Two, 2008), produced a couple more introspective Top Twenty singles in "Sober" and "Please Don't Leave Me." By then, thanks in part to some highly acrobatic trapeze swinging, she'd established herself as a world-class live draw as well: In terms of gross receipts and attendance, her 2009 tour ranked only behind tours by U2, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and AC/DC.
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