Singer and songwriter
Born Alecia Beth Moore, September 8, 1979, in Doylestown, PA; daughter of James (an insurance salesman) and Judy (an emergency room nurse) Moore.
Record label —c/o Arista Records, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.
Began writing songs, c. 1991; made singing debut with Schools of Thought, c. 1992; stint in punk band as young teen; briefly member of Basic Instinct; signed to LaFace label as part of R&B trio Choice, 1996; became solo artist, c. 1998; released debut solo album as Pink, Can't Take Me Home, 2000; released M!ssundaztood, 2001; released Try This, 2003.
MTV Music Video Awards for best female video and best dance video, 2002; Grammy Award for best female rock vocal performance for "Trouble," 2004.
Though pop/R&B singer Pink did not always sport her signature pink hair, her reputation as a woman with edgy tendencies did not change. After a difficult early life, Pink emerged as a popular singer with a big voice and distinctive persona in the early 2000s. With three very individual albums to her credit—each of which sold into the millions world–wide—Pink was a popular black sheep. As
Born in 1979, Pink was the product of the stormy marriage of James and Judy Moore. She grew up the same city she was born in, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, located outside of Philadelphia. Her parents' marital problems began when she was a toddler, but she remained especially close to and influenced by her father, a Vietnam War veteran who worked in the insurance industry. He taught her many survival skills, including how to fight, use knives and guns, and break wrists. He also played guitar and introduced her to the music of Bob Dylan and Don McLean. From an early age, Pink was seen as tough.
Before Pink was ten years old, her parents divorced. She never talked about what went wrong or consciously realized how it affected her until years later. Pink began acting out within a few years. Though she had asthma, she began smoking when she was nine years old, a habit she kept up for many years. Pink got her first tattoo when she was 12, and her tongue pierced the same year. Pink also began writing songs when she was 12. She made her singing debut with a rap group, Schools of Thought, headed by Philly club dancer/friend Skratch, when she was 13.
By the time Pink was 14, she was doing drugs and running away from home on a regular basis. She was also arrested on several occasions for rebellious misdeeds. Music remained an important part of her life. Pink explored many music scenes, from rock, punk, and rave, to hip hop, folk, R&B, and gospel. She also liked to go to clubs and hang out with skateboarders. She rode skateboards, and also participated in a number of sports including kickboxing. Pink lived with her mother after her parents' divorce, but got kicked out when she was 15 years old because of the lifestyle she was living. Pink later admitted that she was a wild and difficult teenager. After briefly living with friends and relatives, Pink moved in with her father.
By this time in her life, Pink was determined to be a musician, though she also held mundane jobs like working at McDonald's to help support herself. After stints in a punk band and as a member of Basic Instinct, a vocal group signed to MCA, she joined a woman–only R&B trio called Choice when she was 16 years old because this group seemed to have the best chance of success. In 1996, Choice was signed to the LaFace label by L.A. Reid, a successful R&B producer.
It was during her two–year stint with Choice that Pink took on her colorful nickname. There are several versions of the story of how she came to be called Pink. At the time, she had pink hair, though sources also say that she took the name because of the character Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs. Another version claimed that she was so named because she turned pink after being embarrassed in front of a boy she liked. While the name Pink stuck, she did not have as much success with Choice. The group struggled with creative conflicts, but Pink was able to rediscover her love of songwriting when one of the artists they were working with, Darryl Simmons, had her co–write a song with him, "Just To Be Loving You," for the group.
After two years, Choice could not make it work with producers. Reid believed that Pink had a chance as a solo artist and began grooming her for such a career. However, Reid and Pink each had a different vision for the direction of her solo career. It was a harsh education for Pink on how the music industry really worked. She believed that Reid wanted her to compromise who she was. Despite their differences, Reid continued to have a hand in the way Pink's career developed even after he became president of Arista Records. Pink also joined the label.
Pink's first album, 2000's Can't Take Me Home, was full of slick, overproduced songs, including the first single "There You Go." Most were dance–pop–R&B numbers aimed at a teen audience. The songs did not say much and Home was a critical failure, but the album managed to sell two to three million records worldwide. One point of controversy among record buyers was Pink's ethnicity. She told T'cha Dunlevy of the Gazette, "That's part of the mystery of Pink. Nobody knows what I am. Everybody thinks I'm what they are. White people think I'm white, Spanish people think I'm Spanish. Some black people think I'm black. I don't really care. Just listen to my music."
While Pink wrote or co–wrote seven of the 13 tracks on the album, she did not like how the record sounded and wanted to take more control of her career. She did not want to be a typical created–and–controlled R&B singer, but be honest and refreshing. Despite these qualms, the success of Can't Take Me Home proved to Pink that she could sing and sell records.
To take charge of her career direction, Pink fired her manager and hired a new one, the successful Roger Davies. She also stood up to her record company so that she could create an album that better reflected her personality and sound. She wanted to be more rock than polished R&B/pop. Of her struggles, she told Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times, "Everything in this business is designed to encourage you to play along. They know people are so hungry for stardom that they'll just follow the record industry game. I know because I was ready to do anything when I started out. But I found that selling records wasn't enough. I told myself after the first record that I'd rather go back home and start all over again than be trapped in a one–dimensional world any longer."
To that end, Pink chose to work with Linda Perry as a producer and co–writer of eight songs on Pink's second record, 2001's M!ssundaztood. Perry had been part of the rock group 4 Non Blondes which had minimal mainstream success in the early 1990s, and she had been struggling on the fringes of the music industry for a number of years. With Perry, Pink retained an R&B–dance–pop oriented sound, but she also became harder, edgier, and with a rock sound accompanying lyrics that better reflected who she was. Pink sang about herself, her rough teenage years, and her problems with her family and the music industry, often in an emotionally intense fashion.
Critics and audiences responded to the change in direction of Pink's sound. M!ssundaztood more than eight million copies worldwide, with five million copies in the United States alone. As Alexis Petridis wrote in the Guardian, "Whatever you made of the actual music on Missundaztood, it was a brave and radical career shift. Despite the mainstream, crowd–pleasing sound, there was an undeniable sense of shock about the album—it had been a long time since any pop artist had attempted to make music whose primary emotion was anger."
M!ssundaztood produced a number of hit singles for Pink. One was the first hit single "Get the Party Started," which became a club hit, then a huge pop hit. Another hit single was "Just Like a Pill," in which Pink sang about her personal insecurities. "Family Portrait," a hit worldwide, was about her parents' marital problems and its effect on her. The song was very hard for Pink to sing, but also was cathartic for her.
Following up such an intense record proved difficult for Pink. In 2003, she released Try This, an album that featured a number of musical styles recorded primarily in her own home studio. While Pink again worked with Perry on three tracks, seven songs on the record were co–written and produced by Tim Armstrong, a punk rock icon. Armstrong also played guitar and provided some vocals. The songs ranged from the punk rock–oriented "Trouble" to the R&B–type ballads "Waiting for Love" and "Love Song." "Oh My God" was recorded with rapper/performance artist Peaches, while "God is a DJ" was a pop/rock anthem.
While many critics praised Try This, others pointed out that it sounded much like Pink's second record but without the danger and the radio–friendly hooks. Still, many reviewers found much to like, including her attitude, image, and her work ethic. Joan Anderman of the Boston Globe wrote, "In a pop music landscape littered with boardroom–approved sex kittens and photo–ready rebels—yes, Pink is all that, too—the 24–year–old singer has an actual personality. She's cheeky and funny and blunt, all of which infuses her third album, Try This .…" Newsweek concurred: "Thanks to boot–stomping tempos, hissing guitar and rough–and–tumble melodies, the music finally matches Pink's acerbic lyrics and overall bad attitude."
Though Pink impressed many critics, the record–buying public was less impressed. The first single, "Trouble," only reached number 16 on the Billboard Top 40 charts, and was not much of a hit on radio either. "God is a DJ" reached the top five of the charts in the United Kingdom. The slower sales of her singles did not bother Pink. She told Nekesa Mumbi Moody of the Associated Press, "I don't judge myself on how well my songs do at radio, or how much my album sells. A failure and a success is all how you look at it. I've been creative to my highest potential at this point of my life, and I'm super proud of myself for making it this far."
Pink planned on touring extensively in support of Try This and remained sure of her vision for her musical career. She told CNN.com , "I'd rather fall down for what I believe in and for what makes me tick. Is that smart? Who knows. Might not be. But there's still some fear in me—I want to be understood. I want to be heard."
Can't Take Me Home, Arista, 2000.
M!ssundaztood, Arista, 2001.
Try This, Arista, 2003.
Associated Press, November 24, 2003.
Billboard, November 15, 2003.
Boston Globe, November 11, 2003, p. F4.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), November 7, 2002, p. 25.
Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), October 17, 2000, p. F8.
Guardian, November 7, 2003, p. 17.
Independent, August 22, 2003, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2003; November 9, 2003, p. E49.
Newsweek, September 1, 2003, pp. 56–57; November 10, 2003, p. 66.
People, November 10, 2003, p. 29; December 15, 2003, p. 78.
USA Today, November 23, 2001, p. 10E.
"Latest News," Official Pink Website, http://www.pinkspage.com/news/index.html (February 9, 2004).
"Pink: Expect the unexpected," CNN.com , http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Music/11/11/music.pink.reut/index.html (February 9, 2004).
— A. Petruso