Pink’s 10 Greatest Performances
If God were a DJ, He’d play Pink on repeat.
Over the course of nearly two decades, Alecia Moore has mastered it all. Her blend of pop, punk and rock flipped the mainstream on its head, making her one of the most influential surveyors of the modern era. Detractors harpooned her early on, claiming she would never achieve longevity, but here we are in 2017: her socio-political song “What About Us” is on trend to become a big ol' hit.
As the lead-in to her long-awaited comeback album, Beautiful Trauma (out October 13) ⎯⎯ seriously, how did we last five years between records? ⎯⎯ the sweeping, stylistically-relevant track is the perfect anti-Trump, anti-police brutality, anti-hate, pro-LGBTQ+ anthem we all needed.
In support of her numerous studio albums, including 2006’s defining I’m Not Dead, Pink has also reset expectations for live performances. From touring the globe on sold-out arena shows to soaring high above primetime crowds and offering viscerally-intimate close-ups, Moore is in a class of her own.
Below, we revisit ten of Pink’s most dynamic, explosive and downright groundbreaking live performances. Which one is the greatest? You decide.
“Try,” 2012 American Music Awards
Splashed with bright pink, blue and green paint, the powerhouse adapts the song’s music video for the live stage (a behemoth of a task, which she slays valiantly). Contorting her body in various symbolic movements, including tumbling and electric acro-dancing, she embodies the song’s raw intensity effortlessly. Flames lick the exterior of the stage, which draws even more tension. Her male counterpart offeres up a springboard from which she can truly tap into the rage, sadness and lustful angst necessary to captivate the audience—and she does.
“Glitter in the Air,” 52nd Annual Grammy Awards
Her acrobatic skills are a wonder. Not only does she dart mercilessly across the melody, always on key, she has the guts to look gravity in the face and scoff. Pink begins the performance center stage and slowly makes her move down into the crowd, removing her dazzling-white cloak to reveal a nude suit as she climbs into a cradle-like apparatus. She is then hoisted into the air just in time for the song’s climax, which erupts into a spinning sequence with water covering her and dripping onto the onlookers below. It's perhaps one of the most masterful and daredevilish performances to ever take place on the Grammy stage.
“Mean” with Butch Walker, 2012 Storytellers
One of her most country-sounding songs to-date, the heartbreaking runaway train gives Pink license to use the full extent of her vocals. Yeah, we know how powerful her voice is on her ballads, but sometimes, you forget when she dishes out a conveyor belt of pop-rock gems on the regular. Here, with her heart torn in two and an arrangement of classic rock soaked in Johnny Cash-style country, the star gives her heart the squeeze, every ounce of emotion pouring generously onto the stage floor.
“Perfect,” 102.7 KISSFM
There’s nothing quite like an acoustic performance to knock you to your knees. F-bombs removed, Pink takes a moment to deliver a stunning performance of this Greatest Hits...So Far!!!-era single. A lone guitar backs her, as she recounts the times she used to hate and harm herself as an angst-ridden teenager. Of course, she ultimately rises from the ashes, but without that pain, she wouldn’t be the badass she is today.
“What’s Up?,” 2010 Evening with Women at Gay & Lesbian Center Gala
Feeling a little peculiar? This collaboration with 4 Non Blondes singer and accomplished songwriter Linda Perry should do the trick. Perry only supplies the guitar, but their chemistry is palpable: Pink’s rich tone sits snugly in the song’s timeless message, and even the cheeky lyric flips just seem to work.
“U + Ur Hand,” 2007 Live from Wembley Arena
The moment Pink rises from the ground straddling a Harley motorcycle is one of the greatest moments in live performance history. Her brash, no-f---s attitude is on full display, as fierce as the cycle’s roar and as fearsome as her backing singers’ slinky swagger. Even when the band revs into high gear, she keeps in time with the rumbling guitar licks and the drum kit’s throbbing beats. “You don’t want to mess with me tonight,” she howls. No, we don’t.
“Who Knew,” 2012 SiriusXM The Pulse
Written about a dear friend who overdosed, this mid-tempo power-pop ballad firmly plants the singer as one of today’s most undervalued storytellers. From the unshakable sorrow to the gently-flowing arrangement, the juxtaposition is startling, which makes it even more of a classic. You think you know what to expect with an acoustic showcase, but you’d be so wrong.
“Sober,” 2008 The Paul O'Grady Show
The stage setup is fairly straightforward for this one, but the vocal is not: You’ve never felt pain quite like this. Her magnificent zig-zagging around the nuanced and troubled emotions that come with heartache is unmatched by anyone today. The haunting background vocals mirror that of the original recording, making you second guess how someone could possibly sound exactly the same live. “Sober,” pinned with some excellent guitar work, is the best example of 2008’s Funhouse, her most cohesive record yet.
“Just Like a Pill,” 2002 VMAs
When she first broke onto the scene, she was crowned pop’s wild child, injecting the mainstream with some much-needed edge (finally). Her voice was still coming into its own but could still pack a punch. This night proved to be a defining one for her, as she walked away with Best Female Artist and Best Dance Video for “Get This Party Started.” Her raw and emo performance was just the icing on the cake, flaked with dark guitar tones and her signature brash persona.
“Trouble,” 2003 American Music Awards
In lieu of a pop-punk performance with all the smoke and mirrors, Pink swerves with an acoustic rendering of her Try This standout. There are no frills here, just stone-cold talent breaking through the noise of lip syncing, which was all the rage at the time. Years later, she is still stands as a force to be reckoned with in the live arena.
Pink's Best Live Vocals: