'I Could Do So Much More:' Pink On 'Beautiful Trauma' | KERA News

'I Could Do So Much More:' Pink On 'Beautiful Trauma'

Oct 15, 2017
Originally published on October 16, 2017 2:28 pm

Alecia Moore, better known as Pink, has built her career on making songs that were honest, and sometimes heartbreaking — but always fun.

She is a multi-platinum pop star who has dipped her toes in a variety of genres. She started her career as a member of the R&B group Choice, though her breakthrough moment arguably came from "Lady Marmalade," a track she did with Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim and Mya for the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge! Since then, she's collaborated with on songs with Sia and Nate Ruess of fun. and made an entire album with Canadian indie-folk singer Dallas Green, better known as City and Colour. Her latest album, Beautiful Trauma, features a track with Eminem.

The singer has also been vocal about her politics, in her music and online. Recently, she's faced criticism for some tweets directed at President Trump, one of which reads, "I've seen people change and turn their lives around. There's still hope for you @POTUS. It's what the world needs" — a statement she says has been widely misinterpreted as one of support.

Pink spoke with NPR's Michel Martin about the meaning behind Beautiful Trauma, wading into political speech and staying relevant after close to 20 years as a solo artist.


Interview Highlights

On where the title of her album comes from

I think life is really traumatic, and it feels — even though it makes me sound like my parents to say this — like it's getting more so. But I also think that there's really beautiful people in the world, and there's more good than bad, and there's love to be made and joy to be had. I try to hold on to the beautiful part. But, you know, my dad always says something to me: "I wish you enough." And what he means by that is, I wish you enough rain to be able to enjoy the sunshine. And I wish you enough hard times to be able to enjoy the easy bits. And that's beautiful trauma to me.

On the backlash to her tweets to President Trump

This part has been — just from the Twitter, just from the misunderstanding of that, that actually broke my heart. I cried a lot about that. I'm really sad about where we are as people. it's always been very hard for me to tolerate injustice and inequality and racism and homophobia and sexism and all these things. And I've been fighting my entire life against it, and to be misunderstood that way, it broke my heart. And we're all so defensive. And we're all so divided that we can no longer communicate. And that tweet, in particular, was — I have seen people come back from heroin addiction. I've seen people come back from the worst kind of alcoholism. I've seen people that were abusive stop being abusive. I've seen change. And I have to believe that change is possible because if I stop believing that, then it's just a little too much for me.

On her political responsibility as an artist

I grew up with a Vietnam vet dad and a Vietnam vet stepmom and a nurse for a mom, people that have always been of service. My dad's nickname is Mr. Cause. I grew up listening to rock and roll and, you know, protest music. And I feel like with songs like "What About Us" and "Dear Mr. President" and even "Stupid Girls," I'm doing my part a little bit. It's very clear who I am and what I believe in. I've been marching and protesting. And, yes, I could do so much more. Honestly, I could do so much more.

Web intern Steffanee Wang contributed to this story.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, she's gotten us pumped up for parties, consoled us through breakups, encouraged the misfits, made the meek feel strong. For close to 20 years now, Pink has offered songs that are honest, sometimes heartbreaking but always fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SO WHAT")

PINK: (Singing) Na-na-na-na (ph), na-na na, I want to start a fight. So so what? I'm still a rockstar. I got my rock moves. And I don't need you.

MARTIN: She's kept up the tradition with her latest album, her seventh. It's called "Beautiful Trauma."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEAUTIFUL TRAUMA")

PINK: (Singing) 'Cause I've been on the run so long, they can't find me. You waking up to remember I'm pretty. And when the chemicals leave my body, yeah, they're going to find me in a hotel lobby 'cause tough times, they keep coming, all night laughing and [expletive]. Some days like I'm barely breathing. And after we were high in the love, doped out, it was you.

MARTIN: We'll be bleeping some of that, but...

PINK: Yeah.

MARTIN: That's Pink. And Pink aka Alecia Moore is with us now from our bureau in New York. Pink, welcome. Welcome back, I should say.

PINK: Hi.

MARTIN: Thanks for joining us once again.

PINK: Thank you for having me. Do you know what I think happened? I think it's 'cause I'm around my kids all day long, and then I go to the studio at night. And I haven't been able to curse at all. And then I finally get behind a microphone. I'm like, I'm free. I'm free to say what I really think.

MARTIN: Well, that then describes how so many people listen to your albums in the car, doesn't it?

PINK: (Laughter) Yeah.

MARTIN: Well, congratulations on the latest album. It's climbing up the charts as we speak.

PINK: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

MARTIN: So where'd the title come from?

PINK: I think life is really traumatic, and it feels - even though it makes me sound like my parents to say this - it feels like it's getting more so. But I also think that there's really beautiful people in the world. And there's more good than bad. And there's love to be made and joy to be had. And I try to hold on to the beautiful part. But, you know, my dad always says something to me. He says, I wish you enough. And what he means by that is I wish you enough rain to be able to enjoy the sunshine. And I wish you enough hard times to be able to enjoy the easy bits. And that's beautiful trauma to me. It's simultaneous, but it just depends on which part you're looking at.

MARTIN: Do you think that what you mean to people has changed over time? I went through a lot of the old videos starting, you know, back in the day and looking at the comments. And the comments are very - they've changed, like, because they've changed with you. But for a lot of kids, it's like, well, I always play this song when I'm getting ready to go out. Or - and then it's like, I play this song when I need to be lifted up. Or there are things like, I play this song when I feel like I can't keep it all together. And it's very interesting because I feel like in one way, your audience has grown up with you. On the other hand, you're still finding people who are finding you at different points, like when you were 15 and 20 and...

PINK: I love that idea. I think I'm just a hot mess and (laughter) people appreciate that. But I look like - I go on tour. And I look at the audience. And I can see every age. There's no real demographic. There's - it's very surprising. It's three generations. And that's what I love about music. That's - it just - it's the only sort of universal language that we all speak. And I don't know. I just - I love that part. It's wonderful.

MARTIN: I'm trying to decide whether I want to play "Barbies" now or "What About Us." What should we do? Which one should we play now?

PINK: I don't know. Do you want to be sad or fired up?

MARTIN: Let's go with fired up. OK. Let's play "What About Us." Let's go with - I don't think you could make me sad, so here it is. Let's play "What About Us" and we'll talk about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT ABOUT US")

PINK: (Singing) We are searchlights. We can see in the dark. We are rockets pointed up at the stars. We are billions of beautiful hearts. And you sold us down the river too far. What about us? What about all the times you said you had the answers?

MARTIN: I heard this song cold, like knowing nothing about it. And I'm thinking, boy, this could be about a relationship. This could be about a family. And this could certainly be about what's happening more broadly. So without kind of ruining it for people who are just hearing it for the first time, do you mind if I ask, what were you thinking about when you wrote this?

PINK: I think that's so interesting. I played this for one of my girlfriends a while ago. And she said, oh, my goodness, the way you write about your relationship and your love, and to me, that's love. And I thought in the back of my head because that's, for me - I'll tell you what I wrote it about - but at that moment, I was like, wow, you should never tell somebody what a song is about because I never want to take away their meaning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT ABOUT US")

PINK: (Singing) We were willing. We came when you called. But, man, you fooled us. Enough is enough, oh. What about us?

The place I was coming from was just sort of I just feel like we've been failed by our government and that we have this very dysfunctional relationship. And that government in general has a dysfunctional relationship within itself. And, you know, I grew up listening to my mom and dad argue, and it just feels like that. And there's a lot of people that feel forgotten and invisible and are being made to feel less than and unwanted and unloved. And it hurts my heart. And so I have a pen, and I write. I write about that.

MARTIN: You know, it's been such an interesting just week when it comes to that because you had some tweets earlier this week directed at the president. You said, you know, POTUS, you're doing a terrible job, worse than every other job you've done terrible at. Do you seriously have time to worry about the NFL?

PINK: (Laughter) Yes.

MARTIN: And then you posted a more kind of - I don't know - a sort of a gentler message, saying, look, I've seen people change and turn their lives around. There's still hope for you. It's what the world needs. And then...

PINK: That was one of the least cynical moments of my life and I paid dearly for it.

MARTIN: Well, that's what - you know, you got all this backlash from people. I found that fascinating, given that you've...

PINK: I did too. It hurt my heart actually.

MARTIN: Yeah. Tell me about that. I mean, given that you've never been shy about your critiques of political leaders.

PINK: Sure.

MARTIN: I mean, you wrote a piece in 2006, an open letter to President Bush. So tell me what this has been like for you and what you make of it. I'm curious what you make of it.

PINK: This part has been - just from the Twitter, just from the misunderstanding of that, that actually broke my heart. I cried a lot about that. I'm really sad about where we are as people. And it's always been very hard for me to tolerate injustice and inequality and racism and homophobia and sexism and all these things. And I've been fighting my entire life against it. And to be misunderstood that way, it just - it broke my heart. And we're all so defensive. And we're all so divided that we can no longer communicate. And that tweet, in particular, was - I have seen people come back from heroin addiction. I've seen people come back from alcoholism and the worst kind of alcoholism. I've seen people that were abusive stop being abusive. I've seen change. And I have to believe that change is possible because if I stop believing that, then it's just a little too much for me.

MARTIN: What do you feel, as an artist, is your responsibility right now?

PINK: As an artist, I mean, you know, I grew up with a Vietnam vet dad and a Vietnam vet stepmom and a nurse for a mom and people that have always been of service. And my dad's nickname is Mr. Cause. I grew up listening to rock 'n' roll and, you know, protest music. And I feel like with songs like "What About Us" and "Dear Mr. President" and even "Stupid Girls," I'm doing my part a little bit. I'm doing a little bit of my part. And it's very clear who I am and what I believe in. And I've been marching and protesting. And, yes, I could do so much more. Honestly, I could do so much more.

MARTIN: Well, thanks for talking with us.

PINK: Sure (laughter).

MARTIN: It's always great talking with you. And it's still fun. And you're still laughing.

PINK: Sure. And you should try my cheesecake.

MARTIN: I know, right?

PINK: (Laughter).

MARTIN: What do you want to go out on? What should we go out on?

PINK: Oh, my God, play something happy (laughter).

MARTIN: Or, I don't know, "Secrets"? You want to do that?

PINK: "Secrets" is fun. Do "Secrets." That's a good one.

MARTIN: All right, "Secrets." All right.

PINK: That's a good dance song.

MARTIN: That is Pink joining us from our bureau in New York on the occasion of her latest album, "Beautiful Trauma." And this weekend, she just appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and doing all a bunch of good stuff. Pink, thank you so much for speaking with us once again.

PINK: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SECRETS")

PINK: (Singing) What do we conceal? What do we reveal? Make that decision. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.