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Pink untroubled by 'Trouble' reception

NEW YORK -- After the multiplatinum success of her last album, Pink could be excused for feeling little blue about the early response to her new disc, "Try This."

The first single, "Trouble," failed to catch on at radio and didn't crack the Billboard Top 20. And the album debuted at No. 9 with approximately 147,000 copies sold in its first week; "M!zzundaztood," notched 220,000 sales in that period when it came out two years ago.

But Pink simply shrugs off the troubles of "Trouble."

"I don't judge myself on how well my songs do at radio, or how much my album sells," she told The Associated Press. "The good thing where I'm at right now is that I'm 24 years old, and I've done everything I said I was going to do when I was a little girl. So I've basically reached all the goals that I set out for myself. Now it's just about having fun and causing chaos, and doing (whatever) I want to do."

That's been the program since her debut with 2000's "Can't Take Me Home," which introduced Alecia Moore to the world as Pink, a "bad girl" singer with hair of the same hue whose music leaned more toward R&B than pop.

If she came off as unpolished, it was because she refused to be shined up.

"They wanted me to talk etiquette classes, they wanted me to take media coaching, they wanted me to wear dresses," she says in a conversation punctuated with profanity and drags of her cigarette.

"I didn't do it. I told them that the etiquette classes is an insult to my mother, and I told him that I would try media coaching, and I did. And the guy left. He walked out in five minutes. I'm not diplomatic. I've been raised to say what I think."

"Can't Take Me Home" sold more than 1 million copies in the United States and generated a couple of hits, but she wasn't an mainstream, MTV-saturated star.

Yet Pink was happy.

"That's more than I ever needed or wanted," the 24-year-old says. "I just wanted a freakin' record deal, and I didn't want to work in McDonald's anymore."

But she also didn't want to repeat herself. With "M!zzundaztood," she threw some fans -- and her record label, Arista -- for a loop with album full of angry, introspective songs about her dysfunctional family and childhood. Her songs leaned more towards rock than the radio-predictable soul that had made her semi-famous.

Produced by Linda Perry -- then known mainly as the former singer for the '80s group 4 Non-Blondes -- some questioned whether Pink would be able to replicate the success of her first album.

She didn't -- she surpassed it.

The album sold five million copies fueled by songs like "Get the Party Started" and "Just Like a Pill," which connected with fans looking for a break from the teen pop music machine.

"It caught a lot of people off guard and pleasantly surprised a lot of people, it was a time when pop music needed that sound," says Tom Poleman, senior vice president of programming of Clear Channel Radio New York and program director at the city's Z100.

Although Perry produced three tracks on "Try This," Pink enlisted Rancid's Tim Armstrong for most of the album. Armstrong produced and the pair co-wrote nine of the album's 14 tracks. And once again, Pink's choice of collaborators would be questioned.

"The biggest misconception is that people think because I worked with Tim, it's a punk rock record, and it's completely not," Pink says.

"He was totally open to pop melodies and my kind of thing, and he wanted to come over to my side of the world for a second."

In many ways, the album picks up where "M!ssundaztood" left off, but without much of the emotional baggage that made a listener feel as if they were eavesdropping on a therapy session: her parents' bitter divorce, her problematic relationship with her mother, her own insecurities.

In some ways, that's by design. The star -- who readily admits to a past of acid-tripping, arrests and other wild behavior -- says she's less interested in talking about herself.

"I found myself for the first time being introverted instead of extroverted," she says. "I've never been really good at keeping secrets, or not saying the first thing that comes in my head, but now I have to think about it."

Not that she's become a shrinking violet, of course. Rebellious by nature, she's feuded with Christina Aguilera ("that girl needs medication," Pink says derisively), made the tabloids with her lip-lock with "Terminator 3's" Kristanna Loken, and has been an outspoken advocate for the animal rights group PETA.

Still, she's insists that she's "not as interesting as everyone thinks I am."

"I forget that there's still a mainstream world out there that is still shocked by girls kissing or partying or getting drunk," she says.

Though she's quick to point out that she's not hell-raiser she was in her teen years, the singer admits there's still a part of her that likes to shock people and challenge authority. And she still does -- just not in the same way.

"I've calmed down a lot -- I'm very proud of myself for how much I've grown up," she says. "I stopped doing all the dumb (stuff), I stopped getting arrested, I stopped running away, I got kicked out of my house, I dropped out of school, I got clean, and I focused all my passion and anger into the music.

"Now, I don't have to fight against my parents or my school or the cops. Now I fight against the music industry and any other machine I see that I wanna break," she says, before adding: "And I like to have a good time."


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