“You want a beer?” Catch­ing up with pop star Pink

Waterloo Region Record - - NIGHTLIFE - Mikael Wood

“You want a beer?” Pink asked, though she seemed more than happy to drink alone.

Stand­ing in her cheer­fully clut­tered kitchen on a re­cent evening, the pop star had just fin­ished a lengthy tele­vi­sion shoot at her home north of Los An­ge­les and was now over­see­ing din­ner for her nine-month-old son, Jameson.

It had been a long day, and it wasn’t over yet.

“Cheers,” the singer said, turn­ing to me with a weary grin. Then she clinked her bot­tle against mine and took a restora­tive gulp.

At this point, Pink, 38, is ac­cus­tomed to hang­ing in there — and to do­ing more than one thing at a time. Born Ale­cia Moore in bluecol­lar Doylestown, Pa., she’s set to re­lease her sev­enth solo stu­dio al­bum, “Beau­ti­ful Trauma,” on Fri­day, nearly two decades af­ter she first crashed the top 10 with her de­but sin­gle, “There You Go.” Since then she’s con­sis­tently racked up hits (in­clud­ing the No. 1 smashes “So What” and “Raise Your Glass”) even as her mu­sic has evolved from quick­step­ping R&B to gui­tar-fu­eled pop to lung­bust­ing power bal­lads like “Just Give Me a Rea­son.”

On “Beau­ti­ful Trauma,” Pink takes up many of her re­li­able themes — fear, anx­i­ety, the lure of dam­aged love — in highly de­tailed pro­duc­tions that pull from rock, folk and hip-hop. Yet the mu­sic, which Pink cre­ated along­side stu­dio wizards such as Max Martin, Jack Antonoff and Greg Kurstin, al­ways feels de­signed to show­case her pow­er­ful singing.

Ross Golan, who cowrote “Bar­bies” and served as Pink’s vo­cal pro­ducer on the track, re­mem­bered ask­ing his en­gi­neer to turn off Auto-Tune as they were record­ing the song.

“He looks at me and goes, ‘There isn’t any Auto-Tune on,’” Golan said. “I was sure the vo­cal was be­ing ma­nip­u­lated — that’s how ac­cu­rate it was. But she’s just that good.”

Pink’s singing isn’t merely a tech­ni­cal achieve­ment; its emo­tion also gives her records a wel­come time­less qual­ity. At a mo­ment when many of her peers seem pre­oc­cu­pied with chas­ing the lat­est sonic trend, she’s cling­ing to an older-fash­ioned idea of what a great song should de­liver.

Which doesn’t mean she hasn’t been “ter­ri­fied” to get back in the game, as she re­vealed when she flopped down on a wine-stained couch af­ter Jameson fin­ished din­ner.

“Sorry,” Pink said, point­ing to a dark splotch. “Carey likes to fall asleep hold­ing his glass while we’re watch­ing shows at night.” Th­ese are ex­cerpts from our con­ver­sa­tion.

What’s scary about putting out an al­bum? You’ve done it plenty of times.

I have two kids — I have a baby. And it’s so dif­fer­ent now. I’m not in­clined to­ward drama and feuds and sound bites. But I al­most got caught up in it. I was do­ing ra­dio in Lon­don, and we played this game called “Pink Fast.” They’re like, “Team Katy or Team Tay­lor?” And I said, “Ei­ther way, I can’t win — but Tay­lor?” And I should’ve just kept my mouth shut, be­cause I don’t be­lieve that. I don’t care. But I felt rushed, and I didn’t know what to do. And I paid for it, be­cause then the next day: “Pink is Team Tay­lor.” Does the cli­mate sur­prise you? It sur­prises me how snarky it’s got­ten. There were al­ways th­ese feuds between rock stars — I mean, if you like Oa­sis, there’s al­ways a feud. But it’s got­ten pretty bad. And we’re giv­ing our power away by play­ing into it.

It’s be­come the main way to stay in the con­ver­sa­tion.

I can’t base my self-worth off this stuff be­cause it’s silly. I’ve chased that car­rot my whole life. I wanted to get the hell out of Doylestown and get to Venice Beach and get dis­cov­ered and change the world. But I’m go­ing off a thing that died at Wood­stock. My model was the model my dad gave me, which was Steven Tyler singing “Dream On” and Ja­nis Jo­plin and Jimi Hen­drix and this thing where ev­ery­body hangs out to­gether and has bon­fires ev­ery night, and some­body gets lit on fire but they’re OK. That’s what I’m buy­ing into.

Do you see new things to get ex­cited about?

Real mo­ments like Ken­drick La­mar’s per­for­mance (at the VMAs) — peo­ple that are still out there, still re­ally kick­ing ass and do­ing it from an au­then­tic place. That’s su­per-in­spir­ing to me. I walked into that night feel­ing a lit­tle bit like an out­sider as al­ways. But I did my per­for­mance and I said some­thing to my daugh­ter, and I felt re­ally good about that be­cause it was an au­then­tic mom mo­ment for me.

That speech touched a lot of peo­ple.

It did. I got a lot of cool Twit­ters from ma­mas. Wil­low and I have a re­ally good con­nec­tion. I tell her very hon­estly about my life, and she lis­tens.

“Beau­ti­ful Trauma” has some heavy mo­ments. You wrote “What­ever You Want” with Max Martin about a cou­ple whose “ship’s go­ing down tonight” — not ex­actly the type of pop banger he’s known for.

I wasn’t feel­ing that way most of the time in the last four years. I spent a year just writ­ing slow, sad songs, think­ing I was Adele.

When you work with Max or Jack Antonoff or one of th­ese other A-list guys, do you think the process is dif­fer­ent from how they work with other singers?

I have very hon­est con­ver­sa­tions with them. If they play me some­thing, I’m like, “No, that could be any­body — I’m not do­ing that.” It has to be a lit­tle bit darker. But, you know, Max is a closet punk rocker.

And they’re gen­er­ally up for that?

I think they take it as a real chal­lenge and have a lot of fun with it. The first time Max and I got to­gether, I didn’t want work with him, and he didn’t want to work with me. It was a record com­pany blind date: “You need sin­gles, and I want you to work with this per­son.” So I showed up with three bot­tles of wine and we started talk­ing and get­ting to know each other, and I said, “Wow, I’m the per­son I al­ways said I wasn’t — I to­tally pre­judged you.” And it’s blos­somed into a beau­ti­fully hon­est friend­ship.

EL­IZ­A­BETH WEIN­BERG, NYT

The pop star Pink in Los An­ge­les last month

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