Alicia Keys Gets Ready For Another Recital

Aug 29th, 2007 // 6 Comments

76257305.jpgARTIST: Alicia Keys
TITLE: “No One”
WEB DEBUT: Aug. 28, 2007

ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: When I first heard Keys’ debut single “Fallin’” back in the day, I complained to anyone within listening range that its backing track sounded like one of the piano etudes I spent hours on end practicing in high school–an irritating thing if only because her marketed persona at the time revolved around her supposed piano-prodigy status. (I will say, though, that the arpeggios on “You Don’t Know My Name” are absolutely lovely.) The backing track on “No One” has a similar pounding-out-the-scales feel, although it’s full of so much pomp and circumstance that I felt the urge to find a nearby aisle and start marching down it. Also, like Fergie on “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” Keys was apparently instructed to eschew enunciation of her lyrics to the point of distraction, although at least she tried to channel Robin S while doing so.
WHERE TO FIND IT: whatz-new, which has apparently recovered from having haterade poured all over it.

[Photo: Getty Images]

  1. brainchild

    i’m not 100% sure, but i think those arpeggios on “you don’t know my name” were sampled. i’ll have to dig up my Main Ingredient vinyl when I get home to confirm.

  2. Chris Molanphy

    I’ll nod in concurrence to those who note the similarity of “Fallin’” to James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” but otherwise I’m still a fan. In 2001, its stark sound cut through everything else on the radio like a hot knife through butter.

    I’ve generally been charmed by Keys ever since (even while I found her second album terminally dull). I will confess that my enjoyment of her is spurred by a little crush. The part in the bridge of “You Don’t Know My Name” where she talks gets me totally hot, I have to admit. She has probably the sexiest speaking voice of any pop star in the last decade.

  3. AcidReign

        I’m not real big on R&B, but I do like an artist who can actually play an instrument well, and write at least some of their own stuff. I’ll take Alicia Keyes any day, over cut-out paper-dolls like Britney or Ashlee Simpson.

  4. brainchild

    @dennisobell: I think there’s an interpolation credited given to “It’s a Man’s… World” also, umm… the spoken part in “You Don’t Know My Name” is easily one of the least sexy moments ever committed to record… unless you like your women to speak a little butch.

    Alicia Keys is a boil on the ass of R&B, to paraphrase Denis Leary.

  5. spinachdip

    I love “You Don’t Know My Name”, even if Kanye went lazy with the sampling and I like her voice enough, but I find a lot of her stuff to be way, way, overproduced.

    He biggest assets are the voice and the piano, so quit with the angel vocals and superfluous instruments (haven’t been able to download this song, being at work and all, so my comment could be incredibly irrelevant).

    Btw, I’m going to smack the next person who calls her “classically trained”; for one thing, taking classical piano lessons does not certify one “classically trained”, and she’s a sloppy player, or at least she was back when she was doing the “Fur Elise”-to-”Falling” segue thing back in 2001.

  6. carmina

    It is a great relief to finally read someone (and subsequent posters) who doesn’t believe in this myth of Alicia Keys the great pianist or Alicia Keys the talented musician not the entertainer. Her skill level on the instrument is no where near prodigious. The piano in “You Don’t Know My Name” is part of the Main Ingredient sample..actually the virtuosity of the piano playing in the sample automatically made me rule out that was Keys’ playing.

    If you want to know how fake and manufactured she really is, read up on some research people did on statements she’s made over the years. She constantly lies about herself: []

    Her voice is sometimes lovely to listen to, but it does have its limits. Her cover of Gladys Knight’s “If I Were Your Woman” painfully highlights that.

    Her songs and her piano playing are mediocre, and even though she claims to be above dressing provocatively she’s posed with her crotch exposed numerous times.

    Verdict: a good vocalist, but other than that a pop star being hyped as something more. (And of course most people buy into it.)

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