I am not much of an Alicia Keys fan. I have always admired her voice but few things could be more synonymous with boredom for me than hearing her sing. Every time her biggest hit ‘Fallin” comes on, I swear I could go right to sleep no matter where the location. She seems to thrive by merit of being one of the few contemporary artists who can sing live and her passable piano skills give her some air of authenticity. I am just not convinced that she is anything other than a product of a moment who has never been a particularly gifted writer. I am not the audience for her new single ‘Girl On Fire’. It is no surprise to me that I do not care for it.
Beyond my lukewarm feelings for Alicia, the song barely stood a chance of winning me over. The title appears to be a not-so-subtle nod to Katniss Everdeen’s nickname from ‘The Hunger Games’. I suppose there are worse worldwide multi-platform pop culture phenomenons to latch onto, but this stinks of desperation after her last album produced no crossover pop hits. I am also put off by how she has stylized her name with a new, sharp “AK” logo on the single cover. Rihanna much? The song itself is another float down the lazy river for Keys. She takes many opportunities to rhyme “girl” and “world” and stuffs every independent woman metaphor she can fit into three minutes and forty four seconds. If the shock of not being shocked were not enough, there are two alternate versions of the new song, neither of which serve to excite. One is a stripped down (i.e. yawn-worthy) R&B friendly “Bluelight Version” while the “Inferno Version” features a few maudlin verses from Nicki Minaj including another bizarre reference to her spiritual connection with Marilyn Monroe.
The tricks seem to have worked. After performing the “Inferno Version” at the VMAs as Olympian Gabby Douglas sleepwalked her way through a short gymnastics routine, Keys saw her song shoot up to the top ten of the iTunes Top Singles chart. But do any of you actually enjoy the song? Does it produce the desired affect of making you feel triumph with a little bit of heartbreak? Does it stand out from Alicia Keys previous hits? I am no expert on loving Alicia Keys, but maybe someone else could provide some gentler insight.
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