HomeInterviewsAuthor Talk – Annie Zaleski on ‘P!nk: Raise Your Glass’

Author Talk – Annie Zaleski on ‘P!nk: Raise Your Glass’

Music journalist Annie Zaleski returns to 360°Sound to chat about her new book P!nk: Raise Your Glass. The 224-page book (out now on Palazzo Editions) celebrates the life and career of Pink, one of pop music’s longest-reigning hitmakers. Since she broke through with 2001’s multi-platinum album Missundaztood, Pink has notched an astonishing 15 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Pink co-wrote the majority of her biggest hits, which include “So What,” “Get the Party Started,” “Raise Your Glass,” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” and “Just Give Me a Reason.” In this interview, Zaleski discusses what makes Pink unique, how Pink’s music has evolved over the last two decades, her stunning acrobatic live performances, and more.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Author Annie Zaleski holds a copy of her book.

360°Sound: What do you think makes Pink a singular artist? What separates her from other pop stars?

Annie Zaleski: First off, she has a lot of integrity. She never compromises her creative vision, even extending to her stage setup. She is intimately involved with every aspect of her concerts, which are notoriously over-the-top and extremely well-produced and entertaining. She’s making sure that if you’re a fan, you’re gonna go to the show and leave completely satisfied and feeling like you really got your money’s worth.

She’s never been afraid to speak her mind and use her platform for good. Just recently, she said she was going to give out banned books in Florida. She’s always done a lot of advocacy around things she believes in. She’s not afraid of the repercussions. She’s not afraid of losing fans over it. She stands up for what’s right and what she believes in, and that’s the most important thing.

Have you had a chance to interview Pink?

No, and she’s so on my bucket list. I wish I would have been able to talk to her for this book. I don’t think she does a lot of interviews anymore, just because she’s reached that level of superstardom — she doesn’t need to. What a wonderful place to be. But she’s done so many chats over the years, and she’s such a good conversationalist. I had a wealth of source material to be able to draw from.

If you were able to interview her, what would be a question you’d want to ask?

I would ask her how she’s felt her songwriting has evolved and changed as her career progressed. And how her inspirations have evolved as well. She’s touched on this a little bit in interviews. I think the way that she writes songs and the way she approaches her music is very interesting. She’s very focused and very, very immersed when she is making music. It’s always really interesting to dig into an artist’s creative process.

From your research, what insights did you get into her songwriting process?

First off, she’s a really good collaborator. She finds people that she can work with that really bring out the best in her. There’s a very famous story that on her second record, she wanted to work with Linda Perry, the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, who turned into a really well-respected songwriter. And she basically cold-called her and said, “Hey, I want to work with you. I’m a huge fan.” She really had good instincts to seek out people that she thought she would work well with. That’s one aspect, she really collaborates well.

But I don’t think she necessarily gets the respect that many other people do. The fact that she does write her own music, I think on some level people realize that. But it’s very rare to have an artist who’s consistently, throughout most of their career, written all their hits. She’s really amassed this impressive body of work. She has a very strong voice. And even when she’s working with other people, that really shines through in her music. That’s something else that’s really rare. You always know it’s a Pink song. You can always tell when a song is by her. She’s so singular. I just think that’s really impressive.

As a music critic, what things have you noticed in her musical evolution?

One of the other things about Pink is that she is so versatile. It’s a cliche to say, “They can sing anything.” But, like Lady Gaga, she can. She started off doing more R&B-influenced music, but she’s also done rock music. She’s done ‘80s-like electronic music. She’s probably one of the few artists that can really give Annie Lennox, who’s a dynamic vocalist, a run for her money. She’s covered Eurythmics, and she’s covered Janis Joplin. Throughout her career, as her albums have progressed, she’s let all those sides of her come out.

She had her punk record, Try This, with Tim Armstrong. She’s had more ballads, I guess she’s had more kind of straight ahead, pop music, she’s had stuff with a bit more hip-hop influenced or folk-influenced. You know, I think every record that she does is a surprise. In surveying her catalog, you were never quite sure what she was going to do next. I think that’s really exciting.

So many artists get into a rut, especially as they release more and more records. They run out of ideas or aren’t sure where to go. She’s always really kept an open mind to collaborators. She worked with Chris Stapleton and Khalid, for example, so she really said, “Hey, I’m gonna try something new. I’m gonna try a new voice, a new sound, or go in a different direction.” That’s really been a hallmark of her career. She’s never really rested on her laurels. She’s always tried to follow her muse, and follow where her heart is going in any particular album era. That’s one of the reasons why I think her albums are so consistent, because there’s always so much sincerity behind them.

Chris Bisha, 360’s editor-in-chief, had a chance to attend and review a recent Pink concert in Detroit. Have you seen Pink live? If so, what were your impressions?

I feel like I’ve seen her once at some point, but I can’t remember — I’ve reached that point in my career. I will say that I am deeply afraid of heights. And basically, her shows involve a lot of zip-lining over the crowd and going very high up and doing acrobatics in the air and maybe some trapeze work. She’s definitely doing these very intricate acrobatics and very intricate moves. And it’s downright impressive, because, first off, physically, it’s very difficult. It’s basically like going through a sports competition every night, so that’s impressive enough. The fact that she pulls it off while singing — it’s unbelievable. It’s almost superhuman. That goes into making sure that her fans really have something to look forward to, and something that really will stick with them for a long time.

What would be your final pitch for people to buy this book?

I feel if you’re a Pink fan, I hope that it gives you a renewed appreciation for her artistry and everything that she’s gone through to make the music she’s made. And maybe it gives you some insights you didn’t know about her. If you’re unfamiliar with Pink, I hope it really serves as an introduction to you to say, “Hey, I really need to give her a chance.” Or maybe, “I think I misunderstood who she is.” No pun intended. Maybe this is someone I should explore and really give a chance.

Get a preview of Pink: Raise Your Glass and order the book on palazzoeditions.com

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