From the start, P!nk made it her business to be different: “Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears,” she sang on 2001’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me." “She’s so pretty/That just ain’t me.” Even as she rose in fame, she retained the whiff of an outsider—someone too frank, too unapologetic, too real for the show: not an icon, but a human being. As a girl, P!nk (born Alecia Beth Moore in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in 1979) loved Madonna and Janis Joplin, and tried her hand at opera, show tunes, and punk rock. She started performing in clubs as a teenager, taking her name from Steve Buscemi’s "Mr. Pink” character in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs: quippy, edgy, ready for trouble. After the demise of her first group, Choice, which was briefly signed to LaFace Records, P!nk released her 2000 debut, Can’t Take Me Home, co-writing more than half the album’s tracks. A year later, she released M!ssundaztood, a leap forward both artistically and commercially, bridging the immediacy of club pop with songs that were confessional, genuine, frustrated, and raw (“Family Portrait,” “Just Like a Pill”). That style paved the way for artists like Halsey, Kesha, and just about every other major female pop star in her wake.
While her attitude was central to her appeal—whether she was tilting toward rock on 2003’s Try This or tipping back to dance on 2006’s I’m Not Dead—what really set her apart was her versatility: It was hard to imagine another singer capable of tackling something as bitterly sarcastic as “I Got Money Now” (“You don’t have to like me anymore/I’ve got money now”) and then shifting, with total credibility, to “Dear Mr. President” or “Who Knew”—who could be a punk one minute and an embracing, almost maternal comfort the next. She also set new standards as a live act, incorporating aerial dance and acrobatics into her extravagant stage shows. (Check out her performance of “Sober” at the 2009 VMAs for proof.)
In 2012, The Truth About Love marked another career high, tackling marriage, parenthood, and the heft of Real Adult Emotions with a frankness that was funny, touching, and refreshingly unsentimental (“It’s whispered by the angels’ lips,” she sang on the title track, “and it can turn you into a son of a bitch”). Speaking to Beats 1 host Zane Lowe about 2019’s Hurts 2B Human, she described the album’s title track in classic P!nk fashion—welcoming, human, but with an edge: “Everybody is going through something. And the point is, it’s all about your village, it’s all about your people, and the circle you create around you to get through all the bullshit in this world.”
BORNSeptember 8, 1979