Tickled pink

Motherhood, therapy and a solid marriage have smoothed away some (but thankfully not all) of pop singer Pink's edge.

It's funny how things change. Pop superstar Pink swore she'd never have children. "I didn't want kids - I was terrified [of parenthood], because of my own childhood," says the 33-year-old singer, who was born Alecia Moore. Her parents divorced when she was nine, and she describes her younger relationship with her mother, Judith, as "really rocky".

"I guess I had moments where I wanted a kid with Carey [Hart, her husband]. You know, when you first fall in love, and you think, 'F..., yeah, we should have kids!' Then that feeling went away."

Hart, though, had always wanted children, and since the birth of Willow Sage Hart in June 2011, Pink says her daughter has changed her outlook in every conceivable way. "I'm still a little bit nuts and I still have a really good time, and I still am me. But I wake up and start the day with a cuddle, then we move on to a diaper change and then I think about everything else. I'm smitten, and totally in love. She's the coolest thing that ever happened to me. Now I want a big family - lots of kids. It's hard work, but I'm up for it."

Pink Photo: Publicity image - supplied.

When we meet, on a sweltering Los Angeles day at a swanky hotel right on the beach at Santa Monica, Pink is in fine fettle. She seems genuinely at ease, and, well, happy - a state of mind she will tell you, quite honestly, that she's never, until now, fully achieved.

She shows me a photo, plastered to the back of her phone, of Willow (who, it must be said, is as cute as a button), all blonde hair, bright patterned dress, and something of a defiant smile (just like her mum). "Even being away from her for a few hours is tough for me," she says. "I'm glad that when I go back out on tour, she'll be with me all day, and when I go on stage, she'll be in bed. It's perfect."

This is a new Pink. Sure, she's still irreverent, still forthright, still self-deprecating, and still refreshingly open and honest in an industry that is usually anything but. Nevertheless, you get the feeling things have changed. For a woman who has made a career out of writing songs about her own angst, frustrations and flaws, her daughter has melted off the edges just a little bit.

"I can use the word 'happy' and not flinch," she says, adding that Willow has made her "more joyful". "Motherhood is so much more important and fun than anything else I've done. Now I have someone to sing goofy-ass songs to all day!" she snorts. "I've become so needy with her. I'll stand over her when she's sleeping, and whisper, 'Willow, I'm here. Do you need me? I've got a boob!'"

That's not to say the old Pink has completely disappeared, however. Indeed, if you thought the birth of her daughter has also knocked the sharper musical edges off, you'd be wrong. Her highly anticipated new album, The Truth About Love (her first since 2008's Funhouse) is not full of fluffy love songs sung to her baby. Instead, she's relied on some of her favourite themes: love-gone-wrong, irony, sarcasm and humour.

"I'm always going to have something to write about," she says. "I feel that anybody who can say they're completely blissful doesn't watch the news, and is not engaged in the world. I'm not writing from my own absolute devastation right now, but I've got that so embedded in my soul and my psyche from the past, it'll always be there."


Indeed, they are the themes that have coursed through her work for the better part of a decade. From the time she came to prominence in 2001 with her sophomore album Missundaztood, her music has struck a chord with her many fans; she has sold more than 40 million albums and 70 million singles (not to mention garnering 10 million-plus followers on Twitter).

"I do feel really, really proud of what I've done, but I always want to do better," she says. "I have no notion about 'what's cool', I just never want to suck."

Given all she's achieved, Pink says she's still often hard on herself. "I've always had a tendency to get a bit sad, and if I'm trying to write a song and it's not working, I get down. I always think, 'Do I suck?'"

She says therapy has helped her to "stop over-thinking everything". "[My therapist] gives me tools to just calm down and not feel guilty about everything. She tries to help me understand I'm doing a good job. I pay her to tell me I'm doing a good job."

Early in her career, the singer was told not to mention she went to therapy. "People would say, 'Don't mention that, just don't mention that, people will think you're crazy and it's not a good look.' Well, f... you, you're not a good look. I don't have a problem with it. I think it's very helpful and I would tell all of my couple friends to go to therapy - that's what got Carey and I back together."

Pink and Hart split in 2008 after two years of marriage (famously, she proposed to the motocross rider via a homemade sign while he was in the midst of a race). It turned out that, initially, marriage wasn't what either of them had imagined. "Marriage is difficult, it's hard. It's worse when you've got two people who think everything is about them."

They reconciled in 2009 but, she says, even now it's never going to be "perfect". "He still annoys the shit out of me," she says, giggling, "but he's still here."

Pink has long used their relationship for fodder for her songs. The album Funhouse clearly documented their relationship breakdown. She says Hart cringes when she uses their relationship for inspiration. "It does make him uncomfortable. Sometimes, he's like, 'Don't write about that!'"

She says the birth of their daughter has strengthened their relationship. "It's less about us, which is good, because we're both so self-obsessed," she says, laughing. "We fight nicer, we talk more."

She says Hart, who has recently retired from motocross racing to focus on his many businesses, has embraced fatherhood and, like his wife, wants a big brood. "He loves it, and I know he would love a son. Willow's becoming daddy's girl. Right now, she can say 'Mama', which works for me, but she can't say 'Papa' yet. Carey's like, 'She's gonna say Mississippi before she says Papa.' Of course, now I'm trying to teach her to say Mississippi ..."

Having a daughter has also strengthened her resolve to highlight the issue of boosting self-esteem in young girls and women. She's always stood up for the underdog (take a listen to songs like Raise Your Glass and F...in' Perfect), having always felt like one herself. (She's also a long-time advocate of gay rights, and has spoken out on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, highlighting the need for equality for all.)

"I know how much self-esteem is an issue for all of us girls, and I know that a lot of times I don't feel that pretty," says the singer. "I've never rested on my looks. I've always made sure I was a hard worker and talented in other ways."

Pink did get some satisfaction when she was recently named the new face of CoverGirl cosmetics (following on from the likes of Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres and Taylor Swift). "It's just so weird and awesome," she says. "I love the idea that some little girl who feels like me can be like, 'Well, if she's a cover girl, I'm beautiful [too]!'"

Next up, though, she's looking forward to returning to her "second home", Australia, where she'll undertake an extensive tour in mid-2013. Her most recent tour here in 2009, with its staggering run of 58 shows, was the biggest tour in Australian history. Even now, her massive popularity in Australia still humbles her. "Sometimes I feel like it's a fluke and one day it's all going to be a big joke, and everyone's going to be like, 'Ha ha, we were just kidding.' I'm really waiting for the ball to drop.

"I've got the coolest job in the world, and on top of that, I get to take my daughter to Australia soon," she adds, smiling. "Hopefully, she doesn't get punched by a kangaroo."