By Simone Lee
Sitting in a military-green bomber jacket, Asian-inspired combats and a soaring rockabilly quaff, Pink – real name Alecia Beth Moore – gives the
impression of a woman totally in command and control of all around her.
Her booming cackle and extreme gestures give off the air of overwhelming confidence while an open, in-your-face nature indicates someone entirely secure in who they are.
Let’s be frank: this is a woman who has dangled from trapeze ropes during her performances, once held up a sign trackside that said, ‘Will you marry me?’ while her then-boyfriend-now-husband Carey Hart was riding a motorbike in an international race, and in an utterly badass move, emailed rap’s bad boy, Eminem to tell him she thought he was pretty cool. Sounds fearless, right? So what on earth could possibly scare her?
“Sh*t gets real when you’re raising a child,” the mother-of-two says seriously. “It’s when something clicks in your head and you tell yourself, ‘OK, time to get serious now’. You’ve gotta know what you’re doing with your day, making sure your child is happy, and not dealing with your own neurotic sh*t.”
Mother to Willow and Jameson – who she lovingly calls her “meatball” – Pink takes her role of mama incredibly seriously, whether it’s shoo-ing the paps away from her kids (“That brings up the rage in me and I don’t want my kids seeing me like that”), or using her massive public platform to remind her daughter that she is truly beautiful.
Recalling that incredible moment at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, when the 39-year-old used her acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award to speak to her daughter about the definition of beauty, the Just Give Me A Reason singer is reflective. “I made that speech for her, solely because I wanted her to feel better. There was no indication it would hit so many people. And that to me is equally awesome and sad. It saddens me that so many would feel this way. We should not be feeling this way. But it’s the reality of the world and society.”
She is, of course, referring to the moment Willow told her mother during the morning school-run, “I’m the ugliest girl I know. I look like a boy with long hair.” Taken aback, Pink didn’t say a word, but went home to make a Powerpoint presentation to show her daughter after school that day. It included entertainment artists who had likely been teased their whole lives – Michael Jackson, David Bowie, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Elton John. “Her eyes glazed over,” Pink says of the moment she showed Willow the slides and reminded her young daughter, “We don’t change, baby girl. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl, and we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty.”
It was a moment that had mothers around the world high-fiving their TV screens. Reflecting on the moment today though, Pink shares that she has been shocked at the number of people who reached out – and continue to do so – since that speech. “They have said the speech helped them, helped their brother or sister, helped their child to realise their worth, realise who they are. That stays with me, it will always stay with me.”
Pink credits her daughter with forcing her to look harder, and dig deeper when it comes to finding ways to raise her kids to be confident, content, empathetic people. “That kid, she’s got this crazy, clear insight into things. She cuts through all the shit with a knife, and she says to me, ‘Mama, can I ask you something?’ And I’m like, what is going to come out of that mouth now because sometimes, actually a lot of the time, it’s stuff I can’t answer. So it’s all learning for me and looking at how I perceive stuff and she challenges me every day and so I’m always on my toes,” she laughs.
Pink recorded her most recent album, Beautiful Trauma, when Jameson was a newborn, and says the experience was wildly different to any album before.
“It was definitely a soberer experience,” she laughs. “I’d had my meatball, I was in the studio, would do a take, then run to the other room, pump then back into the studio again.” That’s not to say it was smooth-sailing though. “I love my babies with all my heart, but being a parent is hard. It’s a battle. You’ve got this little person in your arms who doesn’t want to be held, who doesn’t want to be put down, who’s hungry but doesn’t want to eat, who’s tired but doesn’t want to sleep. And I think, this kid is totally f*cking with me. I felt like I was being pushed to breaking point, and that’s when he’d start laughing, and I’m thinking, ‘You fat little meatball, you are testing me’.”
It was worth the effort though – Beautiful Trauma was the singer’s first studio album in seven years and – according to critics – worth the wait. And the proof is in the numbers. It was the third global best-selling album of last year, with over 1.8 million copies sold. Interestingly, she reached out to singer Eminem with a collaboration request. “I’d already written Revenge. I loved it. And after drinking some wine, this was my lightbulb moment. I thought, ‘I’m gonna email Marshall’. And I’m like, ‘Marshall, I love you, I’ve always loved you since you signed your autograph for me at the MTV awards in 2001. You’re a genius, a lyrical master, I love your sense of humour and I think you should work with me because I’m funny. I know Rihanna is beautiful but I’m funny, you’re gonna laugh with me.’ And I went on and on and he just wrote back, ‘OK’.” So what was it like to share a studio with one of rap’s most controversial performers?
“We never actually recorded together, we weren’t even in the same country together, he just sent me back what he did from Rio or wherever he was, and it just made me fly. It’s the best, it’s one my favourites, it’s my mum’s favourite, it’s so fun. I literally wrote him back, ‘I want to hug you and tackle you and just hug you and push your face into the ground’,” she laughs.
That’s not to say that, seven albums in, Pink doesn’t still doubt herself. “I still get very nervous for every new thing I do, every new thing that comes out,” she says. “Albums, tours, songs. Am I going to suck? Will I sound even more like Alvin and the Chipmunks? I won’t ever get over that and I probably don’t want to, if I’m honest.”
Honesty. The soul and heart of the Pink image. Seventeen years after her breakthrough with the R’n’B flavoured Can’t Take Me Home thrust the young firebrand into the spotlight, the singer and star has kept her ever-growing masses of disciples guessing and the hits coming.
From Get This Party Started, to Stupid Girls, Try, Just Give Me a Reason, and Just Like a Pill, each of her albums have been chart-toppers around the world.
Reflecting on her success, she ponders a moment before sharing: “I’ve learned a lot and that’s what I teach my kids – well my daughter because she’s old enough – that everything we do, no matter what the outcome, success, failure, what we intended or not, is a win because it adds to life. And we’re always learning. We must never stop learning.”