Throwback Single: Alicia Keys 'Fallin'
Alicia Keys triumphantly burst on to the music scene in 2001 and the world has never looked back. Keys, a graduate from the prestigious Professional Performing Arts School, initially signed to So So Def Recordings when still in her teens where the young artiste penned a track for the motion picture Men In Black. It was later, under Clive Davis’ guidance and signing to Arista that saw the musician produce her stunning debut and go on to become a respected global household name.
Alicia Keys’ ‘Songs in A Minor’ was released in 2001 to critical acclaim. Keys fused Jazz, Soul, R&B and Hip Hop with classical piano to create an album that was captivating from the very outset. From mellow "A Woman’s Worth” to the seductively ethereal “Butterflyz,” Keys’ debut was dynamically written from the heart, about the heart and its ancillaries; to hearts. The album won a staggering five Grammys, making Keys only the second solo female artiste (at the time) after Lauryn Hill to achieve such success in one sweep. The album went on to sell in excess of twelve million copies worldwide and was certified platinum six times over by the RIAA . A phenomenal debut if there ever was one, ‘Songs in A Minor’ showcased the sheer talent and vibrancy Keys’ possessed and gave audiences a strong introductory dose of the exquisite music goodness that was to come in subsequent years from Keys’ bountiful artistic pool.
“Fallin’” from the debut album, is universally venerated as Keys’ signature composition. The soulful R&B, Gospel infused, classical piano accentuated track, is a simplistic yet insightful exploration into the highs and lows of relationships. Thoughtful piano and a traditional Blues beat initially pander to Keys’ commanding contralto vocals, with the atmospheric track steadily progressing into a dazzling dramatic sonic operatic symphony that tugs at the sinews of the heart and leaves one emoting long after the crescendo comes to a culmination and Keys ceases to pound ivory and ebony. The track enjoyed instant success, reaching the number one chart position in several countries and won three Grammys including ‘Song of the Year.’
The video for “Fallin’” is a memorable audio visual narration that follows sultry Keys delivering a striking introduction seated at a Baldwin piano, to visiting her love interest in jail. Female inmates clad in orange provide striking imagery and backing vocals almost metaphorically as the song deals with a sense of imprisonment individuals can feel when experiencing the abstract that is love and the positives and negatives attributed to it. Emotional incarceration has rarely been so eloquently presented and that is just it - Keys has the ability to masterfully make you weep and rejoice in quick succession with her astute musicianship.
A decade after entering the music industry, Alicia Keys has made a consistent and indelible contribution to the ubiquitous realm. The accomplished pianist, singer, songwriter and producer is responsible for the emergence of vintage R&B imbibed with a post-modernist twist where genres divinely melt. Keys with her unique approach, has made Classical accessible and in vogue, diffusing barriers between traditional and contemporary and unequivocally - keeping musical excellence at the core of her Art. Her appeal traverses generations and any other divide, tangible or latent.
Alicia Keys is quite simply - in a league of her very own.