Pink no longer seems like the pop singer who’d just as soon beat you up. But she’s still pretty feisty, and wants the world to know, as she proclaims in the title of her new LP, “I’m Not Dead.”
Even casual fans of Pink’s addictive Top 40 dance staples may wonder what’s up with the proclamation. Didn’t the D.J. just play “Trouble”? Isn’t “Get the Party Started” still stuck in our heads? Yet “I’m Not Dead,” is her first new LP since 2003’s “Try This.” That’s about 1.5 millennia in pop star years. Indeed, if you’re following the press surrounding “I’m Not Dead,” you may even believe she’s Lazarus raised from the tomb.
Maybe the new LP title is a joke Pink, 26, wants us to get. She’s always been keenly aware of — and openly uncomfortable with — the trappings that lump her into the 1999-2000 wave of female prefab pop singers. Throughout her career, she’s worked hard to distance herself from the likes of Christina Aguilara, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. In fact, the hilarious video for her new LP’s first single, “Stupid Girls” has Pink spoofing the later two, as well as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
Still, don’t let the latex pants and snarling potty mouth fool you. Pink is still part of mainstream music. She is, after all, performing for on Friday, July 7 as part of the NBC’s Today show concert series. But unlike the Britneys and Jessicas of the world, Pink seems very much her own woman — and that’s what makes her interesting.
It’s impossible to imagine Pink putting up with the antics of a K-Fed. And unlike Jessica Simpson, there’s no way Pink would walk around for months, pretending her family life is dandy. If, heaven forbid, her recent marriage to motocross champion Carey Hart falls apart, you can bet we won’t have to suss it out from gossip blogs or photos of Pink solo on the town sans wedding ring. If it all goes to heck, she’ll be the first one to tell us.
Granted, Pink’s tough-girl attitude is a pose. This is show biz kids, everyone’s wearing a mask. The daring outfits she wears, whether torn or couture, reek of stylist intervention. Her enviable abs and cut-yet-feminine biceps were no doubt sculpted by a trainer. The top songwriters and producers in the business meticulously craft her hits. Even the lyrics are pointedly calculated. Take the line from the self-effacing ballad, “Don’t Let Me Get Me”: “Tired of being compared to/Damn Britney Spears/She’s so pretty/That just ain’t me.”
Further, it’s not like Pink’s parents named her Pink. Her real name is Alecia Beth Moore. So yeah, the pop persona is a fictional character, but one in which Alecia had major say-so in the cultivation. Unlike Christina, Britney or Jessica, Pink’s parents didn’t cart her over to the Disney back lots forMouseketeerauditions. To hear the singer tell it, her own childhood was a whole different kind of hell; drugs, street fights, running away, etc. She came to her career the old school way — and that may help her in the long run.
Pink is the cookie-cutter pop star that boldly spread beyond the aluminum pattern. When preparing to record, she actively pursues songwriters and producers whom she admires. Her work with former 4 Non Blondes vocalist Linda Perry is her most successful collaboration to date. Together they wrote and produced most of the tracks on Pink’s double platinum LP, “Missundaztood.”
Not all of Pink’s collaborations have been so successful. She co-wrote much of her third LP, “Try This” with Tim Armstrong, frontman for punk band Rancid. While the single “Trouble” earned a Grammy, the LP’s rock departure didn’t interest fans of her familiar dance sound. Disappointing sales and the singer’s frustration with the music business led to a three-year hiatus, during which she married Hart whom she met at the X-Games.
The new LP, “I’m Not Dead” is a noticeable return to the dance and pop sound that made Pink famous. No more punk rock co-writers. Instead, she teams with no-fail hit-makers including producers Billy Mann (of Backstreet Boys fame) and Max Martin (hit master for Britney Spears). No doubt, her record company LaFace had a strong hand in guiding the new LP, and Pink doesn’t hide her exasperation in interviews. But it’s not like she’s given up. More like, she knows how to play the game
There’s plenty on “I’m Not Dead” that goes the sassy singer’s way. The LP’s hidden track features a duet between Pink and her father James Moore singing “I Have Seen The Rain,” a song he wrote while serving in Vietnam. There’s also the obligatory anti-Bush song “Dear Mr. President,” though the controversy surrounding the nasty little ditty is somewhat overblown. Pretty much every musician outside of country music (excluding the Dixie Chicks) has vocalized, or at least verbalized criticism of the current U.S. presidency.
Song clichés aside, Pink demonstrates survival skills. That’s a rare commodity in performers. When she needed a break from the business, she took it and left the drama at home. No crazy name changes (Hey Mimi! Hey Xtina!). No ill-advised marriages (Hey Jessica! Hey Britney!). She didn’t even steal someone else’s man (Hey again, Britney!). Pink went to the X Games and got one of her own.
Inevitably, a vapid pop singer backlash will send the offending artists to the pop culture archive. (It happens every time.) More than toughing it out, Pink may very well lead the charge.
New York-based writer Helen A.S. Popkin is trouble, ya’ll.