Let's play a game. We're going to share a quote from iconic pop diva Pink with you. Your mission? Make your best educated guess about when she said it. Ready? Here we go.
"The thing about me was I always knew when to draw the line. I always had that inner voice that told me what was right and what was a little too much. I always knew when to draw the line. My thing was I was as rebellious as they came. If everybody was walking in a single-file line, I was walking backwards, diagonal over here. I'm going to make people follow me. I'm not going to follow y'all. I'm going to do what I want and hopefully you'll join along. And if not, I'm fine by myself."
Now for your guess—it's totally from her current promotional tour for her upcoming album Beautiful Trauma, right? Wrong.
Getty Images, AP; E! Illustration
That quote, which so perfectly distills the singer's entire approach to her career in one thesis statement, actually comes from one of her earliest interviews, as she sat down with LAUNCH (now Yahoo! Music) in 2000 to discuss her debut album, Can't Take Me Home.
From the minute Pink burst onto the scene at the start of the new millennium, it was abundantly clear that she wouldn't be following in the footsteps of her pop star predecessors—neither in sound nor in soundbites. Over the course of a 17-year career, which has seen the release of seven studio albums, the singer, born Alecia Beth Moore, has remained resolutely committed to speaking her truth on her terms.
"My thing is, I write my own music. I'm a hands-on person, I make what this is, you know what I mean," she said in that same 2000 interview. "Nobody came to me and said, 'OK, we're going to call you Pink. Here, throw on some pink hair, get some pink shirts and here you go. Just be you.' No, this is me. This is who I am, my music. I don't try to be candy-coated. I don't try to walk on eggshells. I am what I am, love me or hate me."
Right out the gate, she also proved to have an unflinching knack for taking on the very industry she was quickly carving out a successful career in. "I was signed in '96 when there was no Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson and whatever whatever. So it was like, they didn't know what to think of me," she said in that same LAUNCH interview. "They were like, 'Well, what's this girl like? She's punk rocker-thug. Like, what is she?' So now it's easy for people to categorize me, but I think my music will speak for itself. If it makes you feel better, put me in that category, but I'm painting the world pink, so it's whatever. [Laughs]"
She would famously hone in on that sentiment on her second studio album, 2001's Missundaztood—most notably on the single "Don't Let Me Get Me," where she took the man who signed her, L.A. Reid, to task for telling her to change "everything you are" and name-checked "damn" Britney Spears, whom she was tired of being compared to. "I think she understands that I'm going after the machine, not necessarily her," she told Rolling Stone at the time.
For that album, she enlisted former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry as her songwriting partner, who, despite now being a songwriting powerhouse revered in the industry, was a complete non-entity. The move did not sit well with Reid or the label. "When I said I was going to go and work with Linda Perry, the record company were like, 'Are you crazy?' Yes, I am," she told The Guardian in 2003. Was it punishment for their prior attempts at forcing her into etiquette lessons and media training? Perhaps.
At only 22, she wasn't willing to let anyone tell her what to do—or even suggest how to do it. Her label's assigned media coach found that out the hard way, as she told Rolling Stone in a separate interview. "He was trying to change me, change my whole thought pattern," she said, "and I almost felt violated. One thing the guy told me was, 'If it's a guy, flirt.' I said, 'You're a total a--hole for that comment, right there. What if it's a girl—I can't flirt?'"
As she produced more records, it would become clear that her career's defining characteristic would be her resolute need to do things her way. For 2003's Try This, her third studio album and last under Arista Records, she would write almost exclusively with Rancid singer and guitarist Tim Armstrong, a move she later admitted was a bit of push back against the way they were trying to force her to simply recreate Missundaztood. "I was kind of rebelling against the label on that one," she told The Irish Times in 2006. "I was going: 'You want a record? Fine, I'll write 10 songs in a week for your f--kin' record and you can press it up and put it out.'"
For her fourth studio album, 2006's I'm Not Dead, she was ready to take on the President of the United States on the track "Dear Mr. President," which took George W. Bush to task with lyrics like "How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?"
"I don't hang out with celebrities. I hang out with real, nine-to-five people. My family are working-class people. I'm very much in tune with what's [going on]," she told The Independent Online of the creation of that song. "I don't sit holed up inside my mansion with my poodles and think that everything's fine. I have people that are in Sri Lanka, in Iraq, in Africa working with the UN. I have women in Philadelphia, friends that are poor, they're single parents. I like stirring things up and creating dissent and creating discussion and highlighting the ridiculousness of it all."
While she's never been afraid to approach the truth in her lyrics—her 2008 album Funhouse was almost entirely about her separation from husband Carey Hart (they reconciled a year later and have been together ever since)—recent years have proven she's been unwilling to bite her tongue on social media as well. She's thrown her support behind the Black Lives Matter movement, she's challenged body shamers, she's challenged the notion that females in the music industry must be adversaries, and she's proven he's unafraid to take on our current president, Donald Trump, as well.
"If I take an action, I mean it, and I will take the consequences that come with that, celebrity or not," she explained in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. "My husband would rather separate things. But I come from a military family. I pay taxes. I vote in every election. I educate myself on what's going on all over the world. So why shouldn't I have an opinion? Just because I sing? Well, that guy does air conditioning — why does he get to have an opinion?"
She's begun admitting that motherhood—she's mom to six-year-old daughter Willow and infant son Jameson Moon—and age have begun to mellow her ("I can choose my battles now," she told the New York Times), but there's one area where she'll probably never back down: Her music. "I've never won the popularity contest," she told the NY Times in advance of the Oct. 13 release of Beautiful Trauma. "I was never as big as Britney or Christina. If you look at any paragraph about pop music, I don't get mentioned — my name doesn't come up. And yet, here I go again, right under the wave, duck-diving."
Something tells us that scrappy girl with the bright pink hair ready to walk backwards in a crooked line would be proud.
Beautiful Trauma, Pink's seventh studio album, is available wherever music is sold on Friday, Oct. 13.