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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

This is Tell Me More from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Some artists tiptoe around their pains, their heartaches, their vulnerabilities. Pink shouts them at the top of her lungs.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SO WHAT"

PINK: (Singing) I guess I just lost my husband, I don't know where he went. So I'm gonna drink my money, I'm not gonna pay his rent, nope. I got a brand new attitude, and I'm gonna wear it today. I'm gonna get in trouble, I wanna start a fight. Na, na, na, na, na, na, na. I wanna start a fight. Na, na, na, na, na, na, na. I wanna start a fight. So, so what! I'm still a rock star. I got my rock moves. And I don't need you. And guess what?

MARTIN: That is "So What." It is the first single from Pink's new album, "Funhouse." Pink, also known as Alecia Moore, joins us now from our New York studios. Welcome to the program, Ms. Pink.

Ms. ALICIA MOORE (Singer-Songwriter): Hello. Thank you kindly.

MARTIN: Pink, you know, what are we going to do to get you open up, tell us what you really feel?

PINK: I know. I am really a closed, defensive individual.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

MARTIN: Yeah. What can we do to draw you out? You know, I just have to say, though, so many performers, you know, they tiptoe around what's going on. They'll say, oh, this song is about somebody they know or whatever, but this one is just way close to the bone. It's about your divorce from Carey Hart, who is a professional Motocross racer. He's even in the video.

PINK: He is. Isn't he cute?

MARTIN: Yeah.

PINK: I don't why he trusts me like he does but yeah, he was like - because we are still really good friends - he was like, how's the album coming? I was, like, it's great. You're going to hate it.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: He was like, OK. I was like, you know, you're going to be in the video, right? He's like, I'm nervous. What's the song about? I'm like, it's about you. He's like, ach(ph). What time?

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

MARTIN: Let me - did you - so no hesitation at all. You don't think, oh, should I, should I not?

PINK: No, he didn't have a choice. He knows what he was getting into with me.

MARTIN: What about you? What about you putting your stuff out there?

PINK: I don't - I have no other option. I don't know how to do it in any other way.

MARTIN: So many public figures are dogged by the tabloids when they go through something personal. Is this your way of kind of beating them to the punch saying, you know, this is my story, nobody gets to tell it but me?

PINK: Pretty much. If there is an elephant in the room, I'm going to jump on it and ride it around.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

MARTIN: So Carey knew what was up when he signed on for this.

PINK: He's a good sport. He is such a good sport. I mean, the thing is, like when - I did say to the world that we're still friends, and a lot of people do say that and it's not true and, you know, it is true with us. We're really solid, so there's no point. But it's painful...

MARTIN: I know this is totally none of my business but, yeah, that's my point. It's divorce. I mean, if you love the guy enough to marry him...

PINK: Yeah. It sucks. Yeah. It's heartbreaking. You know, it's absolutely heartbreaking. You never want anything to fail, but I think the blessing in disguise is that you don't have to lose the entire thing. You can hold on to the good parts, and that's the friendship and the history and the laughter.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SO WHAT"

PINK: (Singing) You weren't there, You never were. You want it all but that's not fair. I gave you life, I gave my all. You weren't there, you let me fall.

MARTIN: The song is rocking but there is sadness there.

PINK: Absolutely, it's very bittersweet. It was really actually pretty touching on the set. A lot of people are getting emotional because we look really good together. I mean, let's be honest.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SO WHAT"

PINK: (Singing) I'm gonna show you tonight, I'm all right, I'm just fine.

MARTIN: Totally none of my business, but if you guys can communicate this well, why split up?

PINK: It was the timing thing. It's just timing. It's just - there is not enough time in the day. It just doesn't work sometimes. I don't know. I have many more questions than I have answers at this point in life.

MARTIN: Maybe you weren't ready.

PINK: Maybe. Maybe I'm just not a compromiser. Maybe he's not, either. who knows?

MARTIN: But the video has a lot going on also. It also pokes fun at all the attention around you as a sex symbol. There is one scene where you flash a group of paparazzi. Please forgive me for asking this, but did you really flash them? Is that really you and your fabulous bod?

PINK: Absolutely. I had flesh-colored thongs on and a gold necklace. And a shot of tequila.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: That's fantastic. 7 a.m., Dave Meyers, the video director - it's our ninth video together. We did "Stupid Girls," "There You Go," "Get The Party Started." we did a lot of our funny videos together. And he just - I bring crazy, and he trumps it. I'm the only person he can get to do some of these things.

MARTIN: Whose idea was it for you to get naked and flash all these paparazzi?

PINK: That was his, of course.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

MARTIN: Make him get naked.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: I made him take a shot of tequila. It was 7 a.m.

MARTIN: What's your take on the sex symbol thing? On one hand, you kind of play with it. On the other hand, you make fun of it. You ridicule it. What's your take on that?

PINK: I'm a sarcastic individual. I don't take much very seriously. I mean, the thing with me is I'm a very sexual person, indeed, and very much an exhibitionist. I'm a performer. But I'm also a tomboy and a skateboarder and a scrapper and, you know. So it's all over the place.

MARTIN: Well, I want to talk about "Stupid Girls." It was a hit in 2006. It was - again, another, you know, provocative, funny video. But you again talk about this whole thing about the way women, particularly female celebrities, are treated by the culture and in turn the way they affect the culture.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "STUPID GIRLS"

PINK: (Singing) What happened to the dreams of a girl president, she's dancing in the video next to 50 Cent, they travel in packs of two or three with their itsy bitsy doggies and their teeny-weeny tees. Where, oh where, have the smart people gone? Oh where, oh where could they be? Maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back, porno Paparazzi girl, I don't wanna be a stupid girl.

MARTIN: Talk to me about how that came about, if you don't mind - if you remember.

PINK: I do remember. I was just overwhelmed by this tabloid culture that was taking over and all the trash mags and just the silliness, just the absolute silliness and the state of - the idea of what a woman should be and what a girl wants to grow up to be at that point. And I had an eight-year-old niece that was talking diets and sex tapes, and I was like, you've got to be kidding me right now. This is not what we have fought for all our lives. And where are all the smart women and why aren't they being - why don't they sell magazines like Natalie Portman and Alicia Keys and Susan Sarandons and Angelina Jolies? It's like, come on now. What we - we have to wear our belt as a skirt and have a sex tape and crash our car a lot and drink and drive? What is this? I was just - I was really just disgusted.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "STUPID GIRLS"

PINK: (Singing) Disease's growing, it's epidemic. I'm scared that there ain't a cure. The world believes it and I'm going crazy. I cannot take any more. I'm so glad that I'll never fit in. That will never be me. Outcasts and girls with ambition, that's what I wanna see.

MARTIN: On the other hand, you do play with the party-girl thing yourself.

PINK: I bring crazy, but I also balance it out, I think, really well. And my point was not to say that I'm any better than anybody. My point was just let's have a conversation. The thing I like the most about doing that song was some people agreed with me, some people liked the point but hated that it was coming from me, and some people just thought I was a complete hypocrite. And my point was, I'm not here to win a popularity contest but dissent is one of my most-prized - you know, it's what America's all about - democracy, dissent, create dissent and have a discussion, debate. I'm all for a debate. Let's talk about it. You don't have to be right.

MARTIN: Speaking of dissent, you also, on that album, had a piece called, "Dear Mr. President." Kind of critical - can I play a short clip of it? Then we can talk about it.

PINK: OK.

MARTIN: Here it is, "Dear Mr. President."

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "DEAR MR. PRESIDENT"

PINK: (Singing) Dear Mr. President, were you a lonely boy? Are you a lonely boy? Are you a lonely boy? How can you say no child is left behind, we're not dumb and we're not blind, they're all sitting in your cells while you pave the road to hell. What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away? And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?

MARTIN: Again, that's "Dear Mr. President." It's from the album, "I'm not Dead." What reaction did you get to that?

PINK: Well, I wrote that maybe four or five years ago now on Martin Luther King Day. And our dear President Bush's approval ratings were a lot higher back then, so a lot of people didn't want me to talk about it. You know, I grew up with a Vietnam Vet father and a Vietnam Vet stepmother marching on Washington since I was four years old. My brother serves in the Air Force. I've earned my right to an opinion. And I'm an American citizen. I love this country, and I don't love our president. I love politics, and I don't love the policies. I don't love traveling all over the world and having to apologize for where - because of where I'm from. And I think that because I write songs I had an opportunity to say something.

MARTIN: Do you feel that more artists would like to speak out but don't?

PINK: I'm not sure. I feel like if they wanted to bad enough, they would. I know there's a lot of artists that like to skirt the middle and stay safe so they cannot upset anybody and be diplomatic and make more money. To each their own, absolutely, but that's not how I roll.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: That's not my style.

MARTIN: But it is interesting that you got more airplay for this song than you - outside of the country than you did in. And then there's also just people are used to social critique from you. They know that, you know, Pink has things to say about the culture. But it's interesting when you kind of walk right up to the politics, like, this is how it is right now and I want to talk about it, doesn't seem as though there was as much receptivity. I don't know if you experienced it that way, but that's how it seems.

PINK: I feel like that was one of the most important songs for me and Billy Mann of our entire careers. I mean, the respect that I got just from my father alone and the conversation that that song started between him and I was so worth it. I didn't want that song to be a single. I didn't want it to be a publicity stunt. I didn't even want it to be aggressive. My way is usually - you know, it's my way or the highway, and I'm right and you're wrong, and you can go to hell.

But that song was just questioning. I wanted to sing it and instantly I wanted it to be found on its own. And it's just a questioning song. It's - of course, there's opinion mixed in and a little bit of biting sarcasm. But it's mostly just questions, and not theoretical ones, like questions that could probably still use an answer and could use an answer from a lot of presidents, not just him.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "DEAR MR. PRESIDENT"

PINK: (Singing) How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye? How do you walk with your head held high? Can you even look me in the eye?

MARTIN: If you're just joining us, you're listening to Tell Me More from NPR News. Our guest is recording artist Pink. We've got to play the breakout hit. We've got to play the breakout hit, "Get The Party Started."

PINK: Ahh.

MARTIN: Are you ready for it?

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: Sure.

MARTIN: Are you ready for it?

PINK: Again?

MARTIN: Here it is.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "GET THE PARTY STARTED"

PINK: (Singing) Pull up to the bumper, get out of the car. License plate says Stunner #1 Superstar. I'm comin' up so you better get this party started. I'm comin' up so you better get this party started. Get this party started.

MARTIN: That, of course, was "Get The Party Started," from your 2001 album, "Misunderstood." Do you still love it as much as your fans do or are you over it?

PINK: "Get The Party Started"?

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

PINK: I'm over it.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: No. It's fun. It's fun live. It's fun. It's fun because I don't listen - once an album comes out, I don't listen to it anymore. And every once in a while, like a couple of years later, I'll go back and jam it up.

MARTIN: Well, do you feel like you just moved on or were you just in a different place as a person then? Is it musically - what it is?

PINK: No. It's just that I played - I've played it like 3,000 times live. And just - it gets to be a bit much. It's like how I drove "Nothing Compares to You" into the ground on a karaoke machine when I was a little girl. I can't really listen to that song anymore.

MARTIN: So let's talk about the new album. Let's play "Sober."

PINK: All right - speaking of...

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SOBER"

PINK: (Singing) I don't wanna be the girl who laughs the loudest. Or the girl who never wants to be alone. I don't wanna be that girl at four o'clock in the mornin'. 'Cause I'm the only one you know in the world that won't be home. Ah, the sun is blindin. I stayed up again...

MARTIN: So what's going on here?

PINK: Oh, boy, a lot.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: I have this thing where I just think that we all have different vices, and it would be nice to get to the truth without them, the truth of ourselves. I mean, that's every human being's need, I think, is the truth. We need the truth. We need to find out who we are. But we all depend on different things to get there, and it actually just brings us farther away from it. It could be alcohol, relationships, lying - just any addiction. So, yeah. Me and my friends personally like to get together over beer and talk about our drinking problems.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

MARTIN: Is that something you're struggling with? I mean, is it hard? Is it a struggle for you?

PINK: No. It's not. I'm a wine snob. I go around to different places and take cooking classes and go wine tasting. And no, I gave up, like, hardcore partying when was about 15. I started early. I ended earlier.

MARTIN: You want to love that good girl-bad girl construct, but just as a metaphor, do you think that you're kind of a good girl at heart playing at being a bad girl or you're a bad girl telling the good girls it's not so bad to be bad?

PINK: I think all of it. I'm like a walking conflict.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: Yeah, schizophrenia at its best.

MARTIN: So you're enjoying life right now, despite the breakup and everything?

PINK: Absolutely.

MARTIN: Things going well with you?

PINK: I'm having a really, really good time. Yeah. I've got the coolest friends in the world, and I get to travel around and play music. It's awesome.

MARTIN: What's next for you?

PINK: I'm going to go on tour at the top of the year, and I'll probably be on tour - I mean, I usually go out for about two years. So I'll be gone for a while. It'll be awesome. It's going to be a fun tour.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for the album. Giving the little nerdy, meek girls like me something to aspire to.

SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER

PINK: It's awesome.

MARTIN: What track do you want us to go out on?

PINK: Oh, play "Crystal Ball."

MARTIN: All right, "Crystal Ball." Here it is. Alecia Moore, better known as Pink, joined us from our New York bureau. Her latest album, "Funhouse," is in stores now. Ms. Pink, thank you so much for joining us.

PINK: Thank you so much.

SOUNDBITE OF SONG "CRYSTAL BALL"

PINK: (Singing) But I'm not scared at all...hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm.

MARTIN: To hear full songs by Pink and hundreds more studio sessions by musicians, check out our music web site. Go to npr.org, and click on Music. And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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