Nov. 6, 2003 -- Pink's breakthrough album, Missundaztood, is full of painful tales of childhood — divorce, rebellion, disaffection and drugs. It's the stuff that may make parents shake their heads, but causes millions of alienated kids to nod in approval.
"I accept the challenge that kids are gonna be relating to me more so than a lot of people because I am telling the truth and I've been there," says the pop singer.
Her body language says it all: Don't mess with Pink. Just ask L.A. Reid, the CEO of Arista Records, who signed her to her first record deal. Reid says Pink's anger is both her strength and weakness.
"I mean, she might punch you in the face, you know? Beyond that, she is fairly harmless, you know?" Reid says. "She is who she is. And she is proud of who she is. And even the things that she wrestles with, she is proud to talk about them, you know? That's part of the appeal."
Pink grew up Alecia Moore in Doylestown, Pa., and she says that even then she was confused, angry and depressed. Pink's mother was an emergency room nurse, and her father sold insurance. A Vietnam War veteran, Alecia's father taught her boxing and karate so she could fend for herself.
What Alecia could not fight off was the impact of her parents' troubled marriage. After years of acrimony, her parents divorced, and her father moved out. Alecia's brother followed in their dad's footsteps, joining the U.S. Air Force.
Out of Control — And the House
By the time she was 15, Alecia fell into trouble at school and with the law. She was out of control, and left her mother's house. She was hopping from club to club, and experimenting with drugs.
"One week it's crystal, one week it's back to coke," Pink recalls from that time in her life. "And the next week it's heroin. I got out before it went there."
Alecia's love of partying was competing with another passion — music. "You just forget about anything that happened in school today or this morning with your parents or you forget how you look or how you feel," she says.
One night, lying stoned on the floor of a club during open-mike night, she realized that her party life was keeping a music career out of reach.
"My friends said: Get up and get on the microphone. And I said all right, help me up. And the D.J. walked up, woke up and said, 'Uh, you have a nice voice. Come back on hip-hop nights and I'll give you a guest spotlight.' "
Alecia had an opportunity, and she went for it. She changed some habits, her hair, and her name. At 16 years old, Pink was offered a solo recording deal by Reid.
"All of a sudden, she walks in one day and she has pink hair, and she says, 'Hey, I am Miss Pink,' " he remembers. "She was destined. She was on this journey. And she was destined to get there."
Her debut album, Can't Take Me Home, took off, but Pink felt she was being made into a pop princess — and didn't like it. "I was getting claustrophobic being in that box. You know, pop's bad girl, the anti-Britney, the pink-haired freak and white black girl."
And yet, this "pop princess" had earned the respect of many people, and has theories about why. "Maybe because I'm not society's idea of beautiful and I'm OK with it," she says. "Maybe because I talk the talk and walk the walk, cause I'm a preacher."
Pink also wanted her music to be honest about who and what she was. It was time to exorcise the demons. The Missundaztood CD is a hip-hop therapy session, a guidebook to teenage angst told through the excruciating detail of Pink's childhood.
"I went into the studio and I didn't know what I was going to sing and 20 minutes later I was crying and didn't really remember what I did," she says. "When marriages become hateful, it's pretty hard for children. And especially when you, when they say hateful things and anything you do can trigger that."
Pink's lyrics may have been too honest for her parents — her mother gave an angry interview to the National Enquirer.
But things are better between them now. "I don't begrudge her a single day for any of it because most of it was her trying to figure out how to control a kid like me," Pink says.
Missundaztood was a huge hit, selling 12 million albums. And now comes Try This, a CD coming out next week. The CD has plenty of signature angst and edge, but Pink, now 24, has matured and developed as a person — and so has her music.
"I have a humble side to me. I have a sweet side to me. I have a girly-girly side to me. I have, you know, the hopeless romantic and tougher outer shell. And I'm like an egg. I'm like a hard-boiled egg," she said.
Meanwhile, the angry girl from Doylestown is striking a chord with millions of kids who — wherever they are, and whatever language they speak — understand the universal language of adolescent rebellion.
"I always felt like such an outcast but then I realize that we're all a bunch of freaks, we all feel like a bunch of outcasts," she says. "I just think it's the way of the world. Every kid goes through struggles. And mine, compared to most, are easy."