Somewhere, on some radio, a P!nk song is playing—that’s been true for the past 20 years. She opened for NSYNC, then outlasted them; she wrote a surprisingly delicate anti-Bush ballad with the Indigo Girls, and her career outlasted that presidency; she collaborated with the lead singer of the now obsolete band fun. at the height of its popularity, in a song that still gets radio play; she wore giant sunglasses and mimed jabbing a toothbrush down her throat to mock the Paris Hilton archetype of female celebrity, and stayed relevant longer than both Hilton and anti-Hilton backlash.
P!nk’s music oscillates between self-destruction and self-compassion, a balance she’s struck since her breakout album M!ssndazstood in 2001. After a litany of brash statements and cries for help, optimized for shock value (“Teachers dated me/My parents hated me”), she builds to a plea: “I’m a hazard to myself/Don’t let me get me.” On an album that strained to prove how dangerous or damaged or derailed the 22-year-old singer was—all dirty socks and diamond rings, extended metaphors describing her childhood as “my Vietnam”—“Don’t Let Me Get Me” was the song that stunned. There’s always a sudden softness in her party tracks, or a raw, brazen aside in her ballads.
P!nk is architecting her legacy now, and the industry is celebrating her for sticking around. On Sunday, Billboard gave her its “Icon” award, days after Amazon released a documentary, P!nk: All I Know So Far, following the massive 2019 European tour behind her 2017 album Beautiful Trauma. In recent years, P!nk has become known as a live entertainer, performing stunts and singing through elaborate acrobatic routines.