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Pink: Expect the unexpected

Singer dares you to 'Try This' with new album

"I'd rather fall down for what I believe in," says Pink.

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NEW YORK (Billboard) -- After raising eyebrows with her previous album, Pink makes it even clearer with her new disc that fans should expect the unexpected.

Her third album, "Try This," finds the singer again ignoring the rules often guiding today's young female pop stars -- at her own peril.

The first single from her latest effort, "Trouble," faltered at radio, reaching only No. 16 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart. The song rests at No. 31 this week. Her previous album yielded four top five singles.

Still, the artist is unperturbed.

"I'd rather fall down for what I believe in and for what makes me tick. Is that smart?" the singer asks. "Who knows. Might not be. But there's still some fear in me -- I want to be understood, I want to be heard."

Due Tuesday on Arista, "Try This" features numerous collaborations with Tim Armstrong, frontman with punk torchbearers Rancid. Electro-raunch queen Peaches also does a guest turn.

Conventional wisdom would argue that a better way exists to maintain and build on a mainstream, top 40-driven career than working with a punk rocker and a dance artist known mostly for X-rated jams.

Pink, 24, acknowledges that her collaborations are commercially risky, but she says she must keep having fun and following her muse wherever it leads.

Judging from the performance of her previous album, "M!ssundaztood," Pink clearly would seem to be on to something.

The 2001 release cemented Pink's status as a star and featured surprising collaborations with 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.

Led by the dance-y, Perry-penned "Get the Party Started" and the rock track "Just Like a Pill," "M!ssundaztood" has sold nearly 5 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's more than twice the sales of Pink's 2000 debut, "Can't Take Me Home."

If Pink gained an inch of credibility among fickle rock fans with "Missundaztood," she gains a yard with "Try This."

Clicking with a new collaborator

Clicking with a new collaborator

But whether she and Arista can achieve similar success with the 14-song album is a question awaiting an answer. The album needs a strong radio showing to cement it at the top of the charts.

One thing is certain: Pink rocks out on a slew of Armstrong collaborations. She co-wrote seven tracks with Armstrong and three with Perry. They all boast a slew of slick hooks.

As she did with Perry, Pink slyly mixes Armstrong's musical personality with her pop-loving sensibilities. In addition to co-writing, he also contributes as vocalist, guitarist and producer.

That blend yields the first single, "Trouble," which is propelled by Armstrong's frayed, Rancid-esque guitar work. It also produced the erotic "Oh My God," which features a pair of raps from Peaches, and the breezy, anthemic, horn-sprinkled midtempo "Walk Away."

On another Armstrong collaboration, the raucous "Unwind," Pink even references Janis Joplin -- whose vocal delivery she increasingly recalls -- by mentioning Joplin's drink of choice, Southern Comfort.

The disc still includes plenty of pop, such as the sweet, soulful ballad "Catch Me While I'm Sleeping" (co-written with Perry) and the sparse, acoustic "Love Song."

After beginning the project with Perry, whom she calls her "safe place," Pink met and instantly clicked with Armstrong at a video shoot for his Rancid side project, Transplants. She ended up joining Transplants on the road while the band opened a string of dates for Foo Fighters. She wrote and recorded with Armstrong and Transplants/Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker using a Pro Tools setup on the band's tour bus.

She thanks fate for Armstrong's infusion of "new blood and new life force" into the project.

Besides, she says, when it comes to songwriters, "I like the underdog. It's too easy and too damn expensive to go with those f---in' heavy hitters. They're proven. I don't like proven. I don't like knowing."

While her collaboration with Armstrong may shock fans, the union is not as odd as it may seem, she says.

Alongside pop, hip-hop and gospel, punk is another genre she fell in love with as a teen. The singer, born Alecia Moore, even notes that L.A. punk legends Bad Religion got her through eighth grade.

"I used to listen to the band's 1993 album 'Recipe for Hate' on repeat, over and over. I would wear my sweatshirt with my hood up and wire my Walkman down the back of my sweatshirt and put it through the back of my pants and just airdrum my way through the entire day."

'I was just happy to not be working at McDonald's'

Like so many pop newcomers, Pink was carefully coached on her debut. "I was just happy to not be working at McDonald's anymore, to be honest with you," she says.

start quoteI don't like proven. I don't like knowing.end quote
-- Pink on her decision to steer away from well-known songwriters

But as that album broke, and as the public began to latch on to her quirky, faux-punk personality, she began to assert herself and take control of her career.

" 'M!ssundaztood' gave me a sense of freedom and purpose," she says. "It allowed me to exorcise a lot of my demons. The world has become my therapist. And it helped me to feel better about being an outcast, knowing that there's so many other people that share my pain."

Executives at Arista, she says, thought she was "psycho" for going after Perry, whose career as an artist had stalled years before. If they were biting their nails when they learned about Armstrong, they were doing it silently, she says.

While she states proudly, "I've fought for my credibility in this pop world," she admits that for her, "pop" is not a dirty word, despite her forays into rock.

So what can we expect next?

"Sometimes I want to make a really s---ty record and get dropped and go start a band -- a death-metal opera. GWAR meets 'Phantom,' " she says, smiling.

"But then other times, I want to be on the radio. I want to be driving down the street and hearing my s---. I'm a walking conflict. I'm a member of PETA, and I have leather boots on my feet!"

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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