A friend told me a story about her start with an all girl group several years ago. She said that the group was about to sign a deal with a fairly large production company. After meeting with the girls a few times, the company chair pulled her aside and informed her that unless they get rid of one of the girls, he would not work with them. Such is the way the business works. Many times artists are faced with a decision that will impact their future forever within the music industry. Our featured artist this week made several decisions early in her career that helped her find continued success. This week Weekly Music Commentary’s featured artist is Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Pink.
Alecia Beth Moore was born on September 8, 1979, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Although a healthy baby at birth, she quickly developed asthma that plagued her through her early years. When Pink was a toddler, her parents began having marital problems, and before she was 10, her parents had divorced. Pink developed her voice early in life. In high school, Pink joined her first band, Middleground, but it disbanded upon losing a battle of the bands competition. As a teenager, she wrote lyrics as an outlet for her feelings, and her mother commented, “Her initial writings were always very introspective. Some of it was very black, and very deep, almost worrisome.”
Pink began performing in Philadelphia clubs when she was about 14. She adopted her stage name, “Pink”, around this time. She had that nickname for quite some time by that point, and initially it had been “a mean thing”. She had gotten that name from the character “Mr. Pink” in Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs. Pink has said, “I was extreme. I went through phases from skateboarder, to hip-hopper, to rave child, to lead singer in a band. I did it all, and all at the same time.”
Pink seemed to often find her way to bands at this early stage in life. In fact, it was with a group that she received her first major break in the music business. At 16, Pink and two other teenage girls, Stephanie Galligan and Chrissy Conway, formed the R&B group Choice. A copy of their first song, “Key to My Heart”, was sent to LaFace Records in Atlanta, Georgia, where L.A. Reid overheard it and arranged for the group to fly there so he could see them perform. After that, he signed them to a record deal. Since the three girls were under 18 at the time, their parents had to cosign the contract.
Although the band had a recording contract, and an album of material completed, the album was never released. Soon, Pink was faced with one of those career-defining decisions. During a Christmas party, Reid gave Pink an ultimatum: go solo or go home. The band Choice disbanded, and Pink would go on as a solo act.
Pink signed a recording contract with LaFace Records and began working on her début solo album with producers such as Babyface, Kandi Burruss and Tricky Stewart. Her début single, “There You Go”, was released in February 2000 and became her first top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it peaked at number seven. In April, Pink’s début album, Can’t Take Me Home, was released to commercial success. Despite a moderate peak of 26 on the Billboard 200 chart, the album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for two million units shipped in the United States. It also went platinum in the United Kingdom and multi-platinum in Australia and Canada, while selling over four million copies worldwide.
Industry insiders opinions were mixed. In fact, when Pink broke out I initially thought that she was a novelty. I felt that she would never have any sustained success. More than once I made that statement to several people. Of course, the music was selling, but I wondered if the followup would find similar success.
In 2001, Pink, alongside singers Christina Aguilera and Mýa as well as rapper Lil’ Kim, performed a cover of “Lady Marmalade” for the soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge!. In the US it became the most successful airplay-only single in history, as well as Pink’s first #1 single. It was then that I heard potential in her voice. She was unique! Pink felt the same way.
Tired of being marketed as another cookie cutter pop act, as well as eager both to be seen as a more serious songwriter and musician and to perform the type of music she wanted to, Pink took her sound in a new direction and sought more artistic or creative control during the recording of her second album, Missundaztood. She recruited Linda Perry, former singer of 4 Non Blondes. Pink moved into Perry’s Los Angeles home where the pair spent several months writing songs for the album. Perry co-wrote and co-produced the album with Dallas Austin and Scott Storch, and according to VH1’s Driven program, Antonio “LA” Reid of LaFace Records was not initially content with the new music Pink was making. The album, named Missundaztood because of Pink’s belief that people had a wrong image of her, was released in November 2001.
Pink proved to be right. Missundaztood remains Pink’s best-selling record with over 13 million copies sold worldwide. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Missundaztood was the eighth best-selling album of 2002 globally. Pink won a World Music Award for Best Selling American Pop/Rock Female Artist. She was also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 45th Grammy Awards. Pink was named the Top Female Billboard 200 Artist of 2002.
Pink’s move to take more artistic control was a great decision that certainly provided her career longevity. Earlier this month, on October 13, 2017, Pink released her seventh studio album Beautiful Trauma. Chuck Arnold from Entertainment Weekly gave the album a positive review, labelling it as “fresh and familiar”. There are many reviews but I tend to agree with Chuck. Beautiful Trauma should secure the thirty-eight year old powerhouse as one of the top performers of our day.
For sure, when we listen to Pink today, we know she is no longer misunderstood.