P!nk: The Billboard Woman of the Year Q&A


Andrew MacPherson

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It's Sunday, the 18th of October, and P!nk is sending 2-year-old daughter Willow off to play with her touring friend, "Chef Robbie," for the next hour while Mommy sits down for an interview.

P!nk is sitting in a backstage lounge at Seattle's KeyArena that has been converted into a temporary play place for Willow, complete with a pink princess castle. She sips from a hot Starbucks cup of tea, as Willow leaves with Robbie Grantham-Wise.

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Another mug with a fresh bag of soothing tea leaves awaits—tonight is her first show back on schedule, having postponed the last two dates of her The Truth About Love tour to take some much--needed vocal rest. She's already 100 dates into the tour, and will stay on the road through mid-January.

And yet, today is palpably less stressful than when P!nk played Seattle in 2009, to kick off the North American leg of her Funhouse tour.

"Oh, man. The last time I was here, I went skateboarding to Pike Place Market with my husband [motocross racer Carey Hart] and I separated my shoulder," P!nk recalls in between sips of tea. "I couldn't do any of my stunts. So . . ." She grips her throat. "This is nothing."

On Dec. 10, P!nk, aka Alecia Moore, will accept Billboard's 2013 Woman of the Year award at Capitale in New York—yet one more high point in what has been a whirlwind 12 months for the 34-year-old artist, a year she's quick to call her best yet.

"P!nk has almost been in a class by herself among women in music this year, and we're thrilled to recognize her successes by honoring her with the Billboard Woman of the Year award," Billboard editorial director Bill Werde says. "When our 2013 midyear numbers were released, she had the top-selling album and song for a woman, and a blockbuster, sold-out, international arena tour. Earlier this year, 'Just Give Me a Reason' topped the Billboard Hot 100, extending her amazingly consistent chart success, which dates back to her arrival in 2000. Combine all of this with a spirit that inspires fans of every stripe, and you arrive at the remarkable package that is P!nk. She will undoubtedly continue to accomplish great milestones in the years to come."

P!nk's sixth studio album, "The Truth About Love," was a hit upon its release in September 2012, becoming her first to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 280,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The RCA Records release ranks as the year's top--selling album by a woman with year-to-date sales of 886,000 units and total sales of 1.83 million.

The album's first three singles all cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, with "Just Give Me a Reason" (a duet with fun.'s Nate Ruess) becoming her fourth No. 1 single in April and the biggest hit of her 14-year career.

And P!nk's current tour has broken her own previous records with 18 consecutive sellouts in Melbourne, Australia, while also scoring the highest gross for a headliner at a single venue in 2013 with combined ticket sales of $29.2 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. At the Billboard Touring Awards on Nov. 14, P!nk won the top boxscore honor for her shows at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

The tour has also become P!nk's largest and longest in her home country of the United States, having started in North America for the first time and stretching across two legs with more than 30 dates apiece.

With so many achievements and all-time highs in her latest album cycle, it's no wonder P!nk hasn't given much thought to her career future beyond the 2014 Grammy Awards. At that event, she says, "I know exactly what I want to do," confirming that she'll be a performer. "I won't tell you, but it's going to be f*cking amazing."

Her memorable performance at the 2010 ceremony set a very high bar, of course. The five-minute number, currently being re-created on the U.S. leg of her tour, featured P!nk swinging around the Staples Center in Los Angeles unharnessed in a white sheet, dipped in water and splashing all the celebrities and industry bigwigs beneath her.

Amid all her other recent milestones, P!nk (credited as Alecia Moore) also appeared this year in the film "Thanks for Sharing" as part of a cast that included Gwenyth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins.

Her next move still a question mark, P!nk seemed thrilled to be enjoying the current moment—temperamental throat issues notwithstanding—when she sat down with Billboard for a wide-ranging conversation about the past year, lessons learned from the road and why she'll likely be a pop star well into her 60s.

Congratulations on being named our Woman of the Year. How does it feel?
Surreal. It's been the best year I've ever had. I feel like I'm finally at an age when I can take it in. When really good stuff was happening around [2001 album] M!ssundaztood, I was too young to understand it. I felt ancient but in actuality I was kind of young. I wasn't really taking anything in—I've always been sort of an observer.

Willow has opened me up a lot. But this year, by far, it's like a culmination of a lifetime of work has all just settled this year—everything has just been positive and enormous and wonderful.

It just feels really awesome because I don't know what I'm going to do after this, if I'm going to do anything. It just feels like perfect timing, like a [pats reporter's arm] "Good job!" It's really nice, it's really good. It's been awesome, especially with my family and everything. I wish Willow was 14 to see me like this. Unfortunately she won't be old enough to remember I was cool. "Willow, look at this magazine! Who's on the cover?" "Mom, that was so long ago." [laughs]

Any particular highlights this past year?
All the performances have been highlights. The American Music Awards [in 2012] was awesome because I've always had really fun performances there. It was one of the first times, aside from maybe Billboard, that I ever did a TV awards show. And it was just a really fun thing—"Try" is my favorite thing to do. We did the whole choreography and it was awesome. And Australia, the whole tour was just a bucket of love. Just one thing after the next, it was so fun.

I get to do so much cool stuff with [Willow], including [watching] Disney on Ice and [equestrian/acrobatic show] Cavalia.

Also [at the Australia shows] it's just so much love there it's unexplainable. It doesn't make any sense, there's no rhyme or reason. But the love we all have for each other, the looks on people's faces in the crowd, you just don't see it anywhere else. It's awesome. And there's no demographic. There's no type. There's no age. It's just three generations [of fans] there together having the time of their life. So much fun—every day is like a miracle is what it feels like.

And America has been amazing. This is my first time ever doing a full tour here, so that's incredible. Which is crazy town for me after however many years. Australia doesn't take away from that. But the problem was that I started [the tour] in the U.S., and so it wasn't fun. Because adjusting with a [toddler] and doing what I do, and being sick, and having a one-and-a-half-year-old that's sick, it felt like work. It was gnarly.

And then I got really sick in Europe. We kind of hit our stride toward the end of Europe. It got fun.

Then once we got to Australia something clicked. Everything, like a bicycle, just stared working. It's been great so far. And then, of course, here I am back with this [throat] sh*t. But it's been awesome.

Also, didn't I win a [MTV Video Music Award] Moonman? I did. And that artist who made them? I can't remember the name of the artist who made them. [The original Moonman statuette, created by the team of Manhattan Design, was reimagined for 2013 by artist Brian Donnelly, known as KAWS.]

I watched a special on the making of the Moonman and I called [manager] Roger [Davies] and was like, "I have to f(cking get one of these. Even if I have to buy one, even if I'm not nominated. Can they just please—even if it says nothing on it, I want one so bad."

And then I won one. And I haven't won one of those in so long. So I'm super happy about that.

Do you remember which category?
I don't. I think it was for me and Nate for something. [P!nk and Nate Ruess won for best collaboration for "Just Give Me a Reason."] But I don't care—I got one!

What does it feel like to be a woman in music today? At what points has it been an advantage for you? And has it ever been a challenge?
It's never been a disadvantage for me. I love being a woman. I love women in music—I love the whole idea of it, I love the cycle of it, I love the different decades of it. One of my greatest advantages was just being myself when I first came out. And then being so polar opposite of every other female that was happening at that moment.

I think it's incredible women are running sh*t. There's not really any males that are at the level of the Beyoncés and the Katy Perrys, except maybe Justin Timberlake. I can't really think of anybody else.

Maybe Adam Levine?
Yeah, but still it's not the same thing. So it's really fun to see women just stomp sh*t, drop the microphone and leave. They just keep doing it and I love watching it. And I love what I've been able to do, too. Over the years, the rises and falls. I remember early on Roger telling me, or maybe it was L.A. [Reid]—I can't remember; they're like my two guys—but [they talked about] the roller coaster.

If you're around long enough to have major failures and major success, it's all good. The roller coaster of it at the end is all good. And I look back and I'm like, "Yeah, I've been around, for a pop person, a while." And it has been a roller coaster and it's all good.

I've proven myself as a performer and a touring person. As far as winning a popularity contest or any of the other sh*t, or being a radio darling and all that, probably not. [It's] probably never going to happen for me, but that's OK. Because I can tour for the rest of my life—and I do it well.