Alicia Augello Cook, better known by her stage name Alicia Keys, is more than just a singer. A New York Times bestselling author and fifteen-time Grammy Award winner, she is classically trained on the piano and began composing at age twelve. The incomparable Alicia signed to Columbia Records when she was only fifteen years old as an R&B singer, and since then she has not stopped releasing songs of breathtaking beauty. Here are the ten best Alicia Keys songs of all time.
The Underdog is often viewed in a negative light. At best, an ‘underdog’ could pull off an incredible and unexpected win, but Alicia Keys doesn’t see it that way. The song Underdog needs no interpretation because she wrote exactly what she wanted to say in the lyrics. This is a song about empowerment and seeing everyone as valid and worthy. She’s talking about the resilience of the human spirit, most people who aren’t famous or rich, who fight and work for everything they have. It’s no surprise that this song from 2020 has been so well received in a year where everyone was doing what they could to get by.
Every great singer eventually does a breakup song. Karma is Alice’s song for the jaded and the brokenhearted. With lines like ‘What goes around comes around,’ Karma is a song about a lover who has been rejected only to see the one who left end up in her shoes. Relatable and underrated, Karma deserves more praise.
8. Girl on Fire (with Nikki Minaj)
Girl On Fire was a great empowering song about a young woman. However, the song inspired more than just Alicia Keys fans. The singer herself decided to take the music further. The novel Girl On Fire, co-written by Andrew Weiner and illustrated by Brittney Williams, is scheduled to come out next year, according to LowellSun. Unlike her previous writings, which include a book of poetry and a memoir, this book is pure fantasy. The protagonist Lolo is telekinetic.
7. Like you’ll never see me again
Alicia Keys likes to create beautiful but very simple songs. She says and sings what she wants to say. Like You’ll Never See Me Again is about living every moment life gives you to the fullest. Although it’s a bit cliché, this is a song about living life like every day is your last because you never know when it will be.
In 2004, Diary was nominated for a Grammy in the category Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Although she ultimately did not win, she did take home four Grammy Awards that year, including Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Female, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album. The song, about trust in love, is soft and soothing to listen to, but conveys the passion for which Alicia is so well known. Keys could have easily swept all eight Grammy Awards she was nominated for that year despite the plethora of great music she put out.
5. If I don’t have you
The piano intro to If I Ain’t Got You is exceptional. Talking about all the seemingly unimportant things people live for, like fame and diamonds, Alice’s soulful voice quickly dismisses all those material necessities in favor of love. The theme of living only for love is common in music, but rarely as uplifting as in this song. It’s no surprise that Alicia took home the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance the year this song came out. Everyone who has ever been in love can relate to the feeling that this perfect, beautiful thing is all a person needs.
4. My Boo (With Usher)
My Boo is a song about puppy love that Keys sings with hit singer Usher Raymond. For many people, first love, or at least one of the first, holds a special place in their hearts. Even when people grow up and drift apart, they still cling to that particular person who made her early romantic life what it was. Sharing a special connection doesn’t have to be about a current situation or an adventure. My Boo is a nostalgia song.
3. Empire State of Mind (with Jay-Z)
At first glance, Empire State of Mind seems to be about New York City, and it is when performing with rapper Jay-Z. However, the song is more of a metaphor for New York’s hope and challenge to be the quintessential American city. The challenge of getting by on your own is redoubled when you face additional challenges. Whether you face challenges as a person or because of your environment, growing and prospering is never easy, but it can be done. The feeling of beauty and achievement in doing something worthwhile is what this song conveys.
Love is an overarching theme in many of Alicia Keys’ songs. No one is more controversial than the majority. The song talks about how the singer doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her love. Literally no one will get in the way of her love. As a fan commenter on Lyrics Mode points out, the song could also be about the confusion she felt for her husband of the past decade because he was married to someone else when they met.
Fallin was Alicias first big hit. The soul-saturated, deep bluesy tone of this song made it an instant classic. The year Fallin’ came out, she won four Grammy Awards, and three of them were for this song. Fallin’ was also nominated for album of the year, but lost even when it won Best R&B Album of the Year with Songs in A Minor. Fallin’ is the essential Alicia Keys power ballad that made her famous and truly deserves to top any list of R&B or Alicia Keys work. Nothing else even comes close.
Making an Alicia Keys playlist is difficult because she is so prolific. You could easily make separate lists just based on mood. When you need a lift, start with a song like Underdog or create an entire playlist about love starting with Girl On Fire. Once you finish this top ten list, check out her seven studio albums and two live albums for more amazing songs for every occasion.
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