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Who Knew was released as the second single from Pink’s fourth studio album, I’m Not Dead. Written by Pink, Max Martin and Dr. Luke, it was released by LaFace Records. The single also had the b-side Disconnected.
Upon its release, Who Knew was mostly well-received from music critics, who acclaimed it as a solid song on the album and lauded the lyrical content, however the song faced comparisons for having similarities with Kelly Clarkson’s 2004 single Since U Been Gone. The song was commercially successful worldwide, where it peaked in the top spot in countries including Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and component charts in the United States. In addition, the song is also Pink’s longest chart runner on the Hot 100, spending 36 weeks before dropping out.
The song is lyrically about loosing a friend to drugs. Pink says of her experience:
“My life was insane, I was [in her youth] out of control and doing lots of stupid things. Some of my friends were selling crack, and I got into drugs too. I’ve always been honest about that, although I don’t like going into details. I’ve got lots of young fans and I wouldn’t want to give them any ideas. I found a friend dead from a drug overdose when I was 14. He was a male friend, not a boyfriend. Most of the people at the funeral were just children. It should have been a wake-up call for me, but it wasn’t.”
In the Oceanic region, the song debuted at number six on the Australian Singles Chart. The song then rose and peaked at number two for two consecutive weeks. In total, the song stayed in the charts for thirty-two weeks, becoming Pink’s second longest charting single in that country. The song is also the seventy-fifth Best Of All Time single in Australia, and is certified platinum for sales of over 70,000 copies. It was ranked at number nine on ARIA’s Top 100 singles of 2006. The song had debuted at number thirty-six on the New Zealand Singles Chart, and eventually rose to number eleven, just missing the top ten. The song spent a total of twelve weeks on the charts.
In the European markets, the song was generally successful. Who Knew entered the UK Singles Chart at nineteen in early June, 2006 and ascended to a peak at five the following week. It is her joint fifth highest charting single in the UK and her second longest charting behind only So What. With a total of 26 weeks inside the top 100 songs it beats her number-one hit Just Like A Pill. The song had success throughout other charts in Europe, where it peaked in the top twenty in Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Finland and Norway, while it peaked in the top fifty in The Netherlands and Sweden.
When the single was originally released in North America, Who Knew was less successful. Though it peaked at number nineteen on the BDS Airplay Chart in Canada, it was virtually ignored by American radio. In the U.S., where it was released to mainstream radio in May, 2006, it failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, initially reaching number 18 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart (which comprises the most popular songs yet to enter the Hot 100). Billboard magazine credited the poor performance of the single on radio with significantly reducing momentum of initial sales of I’m Not Dead.
The single’s video was directed by Dragon, a team comprising Sam Bayer, Robert Hales and Brian Lazzaro. It was filmed in a weekend in April, 2006 in Los Angeles, United States, and it was released to the internet and to UK music channels in early May 2006. The video reached number one on MTV Germany’s top ten and on TRL Italy. Who Knew was voted number one on TRL Germany twenty times, allowing Pink to earn the “Golden Tape”. In the U.S. Total Request Livebroadcast a “First Look” of the video in May, and it debuted on the show’s top ten countdown; it spent eight non-consecutive days on the countdown, peaking at number seven.
It features a young couple visiting a fairground and going on the rides, and at one point the boy puts a necklace on the girl. The video flashes back to the boy secretly injecting himself with drugs on a previous night while the girl is sleeping. At the carnival, when the girl is playing a game, the boy walks away. The girl realizes he’s gone and follows him, but when she tries to get him to stay with her he gets violent. He goes to the back of the fairground to inject himself with drugs and breaks into a sweat. His girlfriend wanders around looking for him, and finds him unconscious; he has overdosed. She gives him a kiss, gives back the necklace and phones for an ambulance; after it has arrived, she walks away crying. The video is inter-cut with shots of Pink singing the song at the entrance to the fairground.