Is Alicia Keys actually any good?

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Okay, she's huger than a pregnant whale in the States, but now she's being released everywhere else, I gotta know, is she actually any good? I listen to "Falling" and I find half of it to be wonderful (with the piano and the backing vocals, in particular) and the other half to be exruciatingly cloying - and which bits I like aren't the same on each listen. So, is she a future classic or a future what-were-we-thinking-when-we-bought-that-shit? What songs would tip someone on the fence onto one side or another?

EdwardO, Thursday, 25 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Get on the new answers page, bitch.

EdwardO, Thursday, 25 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

she needs a piano keys necktie, that would tip the fence onto her side or whatever the fuck.

ethan, Thursday, 25 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The thing with Fallin', which is the only song I know, is that it's like the same thing over and over for 5 minutes. It's nice at first and then it starts droning.

Ally, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I think this is another exhibit for the pinefox's prosecution of pop. Our expectations are so low that anyone with an actual voice who sings a paint-by-numbers you-done-me-wrong soul ballad sounds like a genius. Great voice tho.

Tracer Hand, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I actually have very weird, very negative physical reactions to that song. It literally makes my skin crawl, and then I get a little light-headed and thinking I might be sick.

Nitsuh, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

(Forgive the FatNick syntax there: IR thinking I am going to. . .)

Nitsuh, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Posted my thoughts re her single on rockcritics.com's radio on. Haven't heard the album, word of mouth is that she's quite good and versatile (and special to pinefox: she writes her own songs, too. at least sometimes. but then so does pink.)

Sterling Clover, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, but if "Fallin'" is anything to judge by, Sterling, there's not a whole lot of "songwriting" going on. It sounds like what it is: a not-very-musical person repeating one very simplistic piano figure for the sole purpose of preening and cawing and fussing over it. This came on while I was stuck in traffic this morning, and the only way I could get through it was to focus my attention on the percussion track, which is quite nicely assembled. But the remainder . . . for such a minimal concept, it's just so fulsome.

Nitsuh, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I like the very little bit I've heard of her OK, but what I find interesting about A.K. is that she seems to be a sort of black Fiona Apple--recall reading something in Pazz & Jop about Fiona's hugeness in R&B circles and Alicia's cred seems to stem in some way from that. Or am I completely mistaken here?

M. Matos, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Did you guys know she's classically trained???

(hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)

Keiko, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Gimme Blu Cantrell anyday. And I find Blu Cantrell kindae annoying after a while. But at least she's got some catchy tunes...

Alicia's songs, on the other hand, are plodding and meandering. Almost like prog r'n'b, but that makes it sound cooler than it really it is.

Nicole, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

She's fucking awful if her appearance on CD:UK this morning was anything to go by. Nitsuh is sitting heavily on the cash here.

RickyT, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

a not-very-musical person repeating one very simplistic piano figure for the sole purpose of preening and cawing and fussing over it.

This is a great description, though I'd delete "not-very-musical" and replace "simplistic" with "simple." I like the song a lot. In fact, "repeating one very simple ______ figure for the sole purpose of preening and cawing and fussing over it" is a description of a lot of North America's best pop music since "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag." Of course, those two songs didn't start the trend, just went pop with it. And a lot of bad music fits this pattern too.

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 28 October 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Is Alicia Keys actually any good? I see I am almost completely by myself with this, but yes. I have her CD and I am really impressed. I agree that the song "Falling" isn't her best work, but I like that too. But, we all know that the radio hardly ever plays the best songs. Give the whole CD a listen and maybe you'll change your mind, maybe not. Nevertheless, I like her, not to mention she can play Bethoven. I never liked his stuff until she added a R&B mix to it. Now who else out there can do that? In conclusion, I predict her blowing up. We love her over here in D.C. But even if you don't like her flow, you gotta reconize the talent.

Qoolout, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
I listened to the album once at the end of 2001, didn't like any of the non-singles, and then put it away for over a year.

Having re-discovered it, I think it's terrific. I am looking forward to the new album. Probably the only person on here who genuinely is?

*Ashanti-hate which was spawned since I bought this has nothing to do with my feelings, or maybe just a little

Vic (Vic), Friday, 3 October 2003 12:43 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

No

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 3 October 2003 12:45 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Geir why are you on a black person's music thread ?

Vic (Vic), Friday, 3 October 2003 12:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

What does skin colour mean anyway?

There are good black artists (Stevie Wonder, Seal, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson) and there are bad ones. Alicia Keys belongs to the latter category

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 3 October 2003 12:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Seal? When I saw you condemn James Brown, I wasn't sure how your internal music-world is structured again; thx for explaining

Vic (Vic), Friday, 3 October 2003 13:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'streets of new york' ft nas and rakim is good

minna (minna), Friday, 3 October 2003 13:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

eve ft alicia keys - gangster loving also good (but old)

minna (minna), Friday, 3 October 2003 13:32 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the tune she produced on God's Son is good

Jordan (Jordan), Friday, 3 October 2003 13:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

Is Alicia Keys' new album actually any good?

The Brainwasher, Wednesday, 14 November 2007 21:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

("Like You'll Never See Me Again" is slowly becoming my fave song of hers)

The Brainwasher, Wednesday, 14 November 2007 21:22 (eleven years ago) Permalink

She's okay. I find her lyrics to be uninspired and her music boring.Except for that song produced by Kanye West.

Christyles, Thursday, 15 November 2007 11:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I like her (like that matters).

Alex in NYC, Thursday, 15 November 2007 16:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The new Target/Alicia Keys commercial makes me laugh pretty hard. It's a combination of the circular Target-piano and the awkward pumping motions Alicia makes towards the end as she's playing it. It ranks up there for me with that Jennifer Lopez commercial for Rhapsody.com where you can just sense the rapid drainage of any relevancy.

Bus Driver Stu, Thursday, 15 November 2007 21:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"No one no one no one"
makes me want to decapitate myself with a dull rusty butter knife

carne asada, Friday, 16 November 2007 20:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i watched a relevancy drainage procedure on the Discover Channel once and darn near puked.

Alex in Baltimore, Friday, 16 November 2007 20:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I wasn't that impressed with whatever her first single was called (the rewrite of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"), but really dug the new one...until that goddamn Target ad. It shouldn't have changed my perception of the song, but it did.

Formerly Painful Dentistry, Saturday, 17 November 2007 23:32 (eleven years ago) Permalink

yeah yeah i know i should stop reading mediatakeout but lol

r|t|c, Saturday, 17 November 2007 23:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

She sounds almost as bad on "No One" as Mariah circa '02.

The Reverend, Sunday, 18 November 2007 00:11 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Jupiter 8 in rainbow patch button shockah!

Display Name, Sunday, 18 November 2007 00:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i really feel that hearing the junior reid reggae rmx would go a long way to solving people's issues with 'no one'.

r|t|c, Sunday, 18 November 2007 00:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Yall are crazy, "No One" is the jam

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

"No One" is still awful but "Wreckless Love" is my shit right now..

The Brainwasher, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:19 (ten years ago) Permalink

I really loved Alicia's first album but the second one was horribly uneven.

Bo Jackson Overdrive, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yeah, but "You Don't Know My Name" is still the best thing she's done.

The Reverend, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:24 (ten years ago) Permalink

i love "if i ain't got you"

J0rdan S., Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

That was one of my favorites from the second album.

And I still "liked" the second album but some of it didn't work.

I did also like her remake of Gladys Knights "If I was Your Woman"

Bo Jackson Overdrive, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

If I Ain't Got You is also solid.

really I think it's songs like "Heartburn" that didn't go anywhere

Bo Jackson Overdrive, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:27 (ten years ago) Permalink

alicia singles ranking:

you don't know my name
like you'll never see me again
if i ain't got you
girlfriend
fallin'
diary
a woman's worth
how come you don't call me?
karma
no one

(was "heartburn" a single? I vaguely remember hearing it on the radio, if so it goes above "karma")

The Brainwasher, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:28 (ten years ago) Permalink

and if collabos count, "gangsta lovin" goes above "a woman's worth" and "ghetto story" is underneath "how come you don't call me"

The Brainwasher, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

I forgot about the "If I Were Your Woman" cover. Yeah, that was good.

The Reverend, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:31 (ten years ago) Permalink

I love "if I Ain't Got You", but it's such a blatant rip off of Aretha's "Call Me" :-\ Same with that song she wrote for Christina, "Impossible," it totally rips of "Ain't No Way"

The Brainwasher, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

"Fallin'" has always been the tune for me. very drone-y but effective.

although the first album really shined on its non-singles. The cover of "Never Felt This Way" by Brian McKnight...Butterflies....and "Goodbye", which was my favorite. lyrically nothing special but what hooks.

Bo Jackson Overdrive, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 00:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

"i really feel that hearing the junior reid reggae rmx would go a long way to solving people's issues with 'no one'."

I didn't even see rtc write this at the time, but I said pretty much the exact same thing in the other keys thread on "no one" about a week ago.

Tim F, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 01:58 (ten years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

the "teenage love affair" video is so great. love that song.

The Brainwasher, Friday, 2 May 2008 04:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

"try sleeping with a broken heart" >>>>>>>> "empire state of mind"

lex pretend, Monday, 23 November 2009 23:38 (nine years ago) Permalink

yeah, and you're a few >'s short there

fake plastic t's (k3vin k.), Monday, 23 November 2009 23:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

Does he really say "If Jeezy's payin LeBron, I’m paying Dwayne Wade"? Ha!

Okay, I kind of like his versus now. If he isn't Jeezy, who is? I'm woefully ignorant.

Daniel, Esq., Monday, 23 November 2009 23:50 (nine years ago) Permalink

dude i'm telling u the verses are great. that jingle bell is perfect

oops i accidentally made it personal (surm), Monday, 23 November 2009 23:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

I live in Coral Gables (South Florida), so the Dwayne Wade reference caught my attention. I just downloaded it from Lala, so I'll focus more on Jay-Z's lyrics.

Daniel, Esq., Monday, 23 November 2009 23:55 (nine years ago) Permalink

Finally got around to listen to the new singles today and both are kinda great although it took me about halfway through "Doesn't Mean Anything" for me to drop my defences to it.

i and iiiijjjj (The Reverend), Wednesday, 25 November 2009 08:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

"Doesn't Mean Anything" seems almost disarmingly straightforward (though not in that slightly constipated sense that the original "No One" was - tho I like "No One" anyway) - I hope it works for her. Great sense of build.

Tim F, Wednesday, 25 November 2009 10:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

'Empire State of Mind' is so good I was going to give it its own thread - my single of the year I think. I'm kind of sorry I didn't now.

Ismael Klata, Wednesday, 25 November 2009 10:39 (nine years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

What's the new album like? As awesome as Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart, or as terrible as Doesn't Mean Anything?

Chris, Thursday, 24 December 2009 13:40 (eight years ago) Permalink

I like both those songs but don't really like the album

sug knight (The Reverend), Thursday, 24 December 2009 14:01 (eight years ago) Permalink

Its pretty meh. I thought her last album was quit good, like her version of the classic sixties soul sound. This new one contains some very groovy beats, but they can't disguise the very bland arrenbie. Very mediocre songwriting too, this time.

Sebastian (Royal Mermaid Mover), Thursday, 24 December 2009 14:27 (eight years ago) Permalink

i have an immense amount of love for a ton of alicia keys singles - including "try sleeping with a broken heart" from this campaign, so huge and moving - but never for any of her albums as a whole. haven't heard this new one though

lex pretend, Thursday, 24 December 2009 18:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

this album is a complete bore, "try sleeping" is incredible though

k3vin k., Thursday, 24 December 2009 20:19 (eight years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

"try sleeping" is the fucking jam

thistle supporter (mcoll), Tuesday, 11 May 2010 01:53 (eight years ago) Permalink

'Try sleeping...' is excellent until the chorus kicks in. It's an intimate sound, she sounds pleasantly restrained and then wham! in comes the chorus with the crashing of the waves and the whole bravado and histrionism and all that jazz. It sort of ruins it for me.

Moka, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 03:23 (eight years ago) Permalink

It's all my fault... everytime an artist gets all emotional and histrionic while performing a ballad I can't help thinking of Disney soundtracks.

Moka, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 03:25 (eight years ago) Permalink

reminds me more of the never ending story

no fear, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 08:13 (eight years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

"unthinkable" is kind of a classic, isn't it? that thing smolders

The Reverend, Tuesday, 5 October 2010 10:26 (eight years ago) Permalink

Sorry for the long post, but I think she's a paradox: she is very confident, but if she had some semblance of self-doubt she would fall apart, although she would become very good if she did have some self-doubt.

And the thing is, she shouldn't be confident, because she isn't good, but she's good enough that her confidence allows her to have it both ways: she can feel like a morally good person while dealing in a morally reprehensible status quo business.
A person on the other side of the spectrum is Chris Martin... he is genuinely able, and is actually modest in many ways, but he has a titanic blindspot that allows him to say, take a fee for playing at an Apple Computers conference, without going into the political ramifications of that. It reminds me of Charles Foster Kane, when he says "I could have been a great man if I had been poor" or something to that effect.

jeevves, Tuesday, 5 October 2010 10:51 (eight years ago) Permalink

uh

Dominique, Tuesday, 5 October 2010 17:10 (eight years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

"unthinkable" is kind of a classic, isn't it? that thing smolders

― The Reverend, Tuesday, October 5, 2010 10:26 AM (2 months ago) Bookmark

fuck, man, yesssssss

just heard this today and it's been killing me

ok (Tape Store), Wednesday, 15 December 2010 09:00 (seven years ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhSaWaweRUc

ok (Tape Store), Wednesday, 15 December 2010 09:27 (seven years ago) Permalink

"unthinkable" totally rules! I have been allergic to her so far but daaaamnn that song is the shit

the tune is space, Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

more evidence that drake needs to stop doing rap music forever

*plop*timist (J0rdan S.), Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

it's perfect makeout music, or perfect driving-while-brooding-about-sex music, but whatever it is for, it works

the tune is space, Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:23 (seven years ago) Permalink

for some reason it reminds me of "sleeping with the enemy" the movie -- when i first heard about that movie, more than the movie itself, and what the title suggested

a sort of epic mystery

boo (surm), Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

The answer to the thread question is a resounding YES. Try Sleeping is my song of the year.

Davek (davek_00), Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

"love is blind" is the other keeper off the album, along with "unthinkable" and "try sleeping..."

lex diamonds (lex pretend), Thursday, 16 December 2010 00:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/alicia-keys-is-done-playing-nice-your-phone-is-getting-locked-up-at-her-shows-now/2016/06/16/366c15aa-33af-11e6-95c0-2a6873031302_story.html?tid=hybrid_experimentrandom_2_na

This is a “phone-free event,” he tells fans waiting in line. And that doesn’t mean airplane mode. Spanier holds a gray, rubbery pouch in his hand. Your phone goes in here, he says, and then we lock it.

“What?” one fan grumbles.

Quickly, Spanier adds an important addendum.

You keep that locked pouch with you. Spanier also explains that if you need to use your phone, you can just come outside and he can quickly unlock it by tapping it on a metal disk slightly larger than a bagel.

....

For DJ Walton, the manager, the only real issue is that Keys planned to premiere songs from her planned follow-up to 2012’s “Girl on Fire.”

“We don’t want the first time you ever hear a song to be some [lousy] MP3 somebody captured on their phone,” said Walton. “We have a 30-foot stage and you’re looking at it through a four-inch iPhone. We want people to come and almost forget about their phones for a moment.”

curmudgeon, Monday, 20 June 2016 20:03 (two years ago) Permalink

this revive caused me to listen to The Element of Freedom for the first time, and damn it's wonderful, thanks to everyone singing its praises on this thread

kruezer2, Thursday, 23 June 2016 01:07 (two years ago) Permalink

i want that to become standard practice at cinemas, concert venues, theatres...

StillAdvance, Thursday, 23 June 2016 11:14 (two years ago) Permalink

Restaurants, cafes

albvivertine, Thursday, 23 June 2016 11:16 (two years ago) Permalink

Was killing time recently by watching those silly "reaction" videos. Laughed a lot at this guy in Koreans React To Black Female Celebrities saying "Her teeth are brighter than my future" in an expressionless voice.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 23 June 2016 23:19 (two years ago) Permalink

almost forget about their phones

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Friday, 24 June 2016 02:22 (two years ago) Permalink

To answer the original question: she's a horrorshow.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 June 2016 02:29 (two years ago) Permalink

My feeling about her, and particularly New York, which to me sounds exactly like something else I can't place, is that it suffers in songwriting complexity; it's essentially one hook, over and over and over and over. There's a lot of pop music around like this these days, and it's grating. Like, the hook is only good if it's contrasted against something else, then your ear craves it. when it just plays over and over, it's fucking annoying.

she's really pretty and has a great voice though.

akm, Friday, 24 June 2016 05:48 (two years ago) Permalink

shes a fantastic singer, just doesnt have enough songs worthy of that voice. i love her all the same though.

StillAdvance, Friday, 24 June 2016 09:36 (two years ago) Permalink

Debut album is pretty great start to finish, Diary has a lot of strong moments

"You Don't Know My Name" is my favorite, her "How Come You Don't Call Me" also p definitive imo

niels, Friday, 24 June 2016 10:47 (two years ago) Permalink

she always has a handful of standouts on every album.

StillAdvance, Friday, 24 June 2016 10:51 (two years ago) Permalink

a km/StillAdvance otm. Girl on Fire has what's probably a good hook but it just sits there repeating until I can't listen anymore.

albvivertine, Friday, 24 June 2016 11:32 (two years ago) Permalink

i adore Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart.

when she gets it right, all my problems with her instantly vanish.

girl on fire, and her current one, feel like theyre hooks with no proper verses. girl on fire was basically just one big anthemic arena-R&B chorus, and not much else.

StillAdvance, Friday, 24 June 2016 11:56 (two years ago) Permalink

xpost Dave Chappelle pulled that phone move here when he had a 17-show residency and it worked fine.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 24 June 2016 12:00 (two years ago) Permalink

im sure that if venues really wanted to, they could install a device/lead roof or whatever to prevent phone signals. but i suppose they too want people to post on social media about the great time theyre having.

StillAdvance, Friday, 24 June 2016 12:15 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

No, she isn't.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 18 November 2017 03:16 (one year ago) Permalink

rude! i do hate "no one" but she has a number of excellent songs, including "fallin'"

dyl, Saturday, 18 November 2017 14:31 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah, debut and Diary are both good albums

niels, Saturday, 18 November 2017 17:50 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Can somebody please explain to me, as I sit here suffering through some ridiculous live version of “Empire State Of Mind”, how it is that a singer so famous, visible and widely regarded has allowed such garbage vocal takes to make it to radio?

I’m not trying to be snarky! Every note this woman sings is flat! Why? How has this been allowed to come to pass?

flamboyant goon tie included, Sunday, 31 December 2017 20:18 (eleven months ago) Permalink

alicia off keys

dyl, Sunday, 31 December 2017 21:45 (eleven months ago) Permalink

^

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 31 December 2017 22:07 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I just don't understand it

flamboyant goon tie included, Sunday, 31 December 2017 23:27 (eleven months ago) Permalink


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