Pandemic Playlist: Top 5 Alicia Keys tracks to touch your soul as we await release of 'ALICIA'
'ALICIA', the upcoming seventh studio album from singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, was set to release this month and would have been accompanied by the 'Keys' Alicia: The World Tour', which was set to commence in June 2020. But alas, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic robbed us of the first new record from Miss Keys since 2016's 'Here' with both the album and the tour being indefinitely postponed. And as we all continue to have the singles 'Show Me Love', 'Time Machine', 'Underdog', and 'Good Job' playing on repeat, it's time to walk down memory lane and remember just why Alicia Keys remains one of the reigning queens of modern R&B music.
'Like You'll Never See Me Again'
If there's one thing Alicia Keys knows how to do just right, it's to deliver a song packed with so much emotion that even just the first note from her feels like a whallop right to the gut. This song, in particular, has the songstress imploring her listeners to cherish every single moment they have with their loved ones because you have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Speaking about the song, Keys has said, "The song is about living every moment as if it’s your last. Because if it’s our last time to say, ‘I love you,’ then let it be that we didn’t forget that." Talk about heart-rending! The song is also so painfully apt for these times since so many of us were forced into lockdown and are unable to see our loved ones right now.
'Why Do I Feel So Sad'
A true R&B classic, this soulful track from 2001 sees Keys sing about coming to terms with the end of a relationship. And despite recognizing that some things must come to an end, especially if they're just not working anymore and are beginning to turn toxic, she can't help but share how she feels. As Keys woefully sings, "Ooh, by now I should know that, that in time / Things must change / So it shouldn't be, it shouldn't be so bad / So why do I feel so sad?" It's hard not to feel those lyrics on a very personal level. But this is also one of those songs that take on a new meaning every time you go back to it because with each new experience we learn and grow and acquire new scars and stories to tell. And somehow, this song from nearly two decades ago still speaks volumes. With this song, Keys manages to remind us that while change is inevitable, it can also hurt like hell.
While we're all in our feelings, let's not forget that Keys is also a master at creating some of the most empowering tracks of modern times. With 'New Day', she demonstrated her ability to uplift her listeners and give them hope. But on top of its thematic elements, this song, as well as the 2012 album it was on titled 'Girl on Fire', proved to the world that Keys was an extremely skilled artiste who knew how to change her sound and blend genres and styles effortlessly. In essence, this track was Keys' declaration of a new day for herself, both musically and emotionally.
Produced by the singer's husband Swizz Beatz, the song revolves around the idea that each new day is the promise of possibilities, and as long as we let no one stand in our way we can continue to create the life of our dreams. The song's message is one that can resonate with all of us, especially right now.
But even as she constantly revamps her style and proves herself to be one of the most gifted artistes of modern times, nothing will ever come close to Keys at her R&B best on her debut album 'Songs in A Minor'. Featuring elements of R&B, soul, gospel, and pop, this album introduced the world to Keys, a budding young artiste who proved herself to be a soulful vocalist and skilled musician right from her debut single 'Fallin'. On 'Troubles', often considered to be one of her best tracks off the album, Keys sings about the difficulties of life with a level of authenticity that was far beyond her years. The song also happened to be the one that helped Keys refine and shape her own writing style, which she would continue to hone in the decades that followed.
"Dear Lord, can you take it away? / This pain in my heart just follows me by day," implores Keys as the song opens, continuing with, "Feel like the world is closing on me / Feel like my dreams will never come to me / I keep on slippin' deeper into myself / And I'm scared, so scared." As we all brave uncertain times and an unfamiliar world, with long periods of unsettling silence sometimes shattered by the wail of a siren, Keys' lyrics speak to a deeper level of emotion that we can all relate to right now.
But as she sings reassuringly, "If you're troubled / You just gotta let it go / If you're worried, baby / You just gotta let it go / All your hustles ain't for nothing / You just gotta take it slow," you can just feel the pain and fear melt right away.
'We Are Here'
Though released in 2014 amidst several wars and acts of genocide worldwide, this song and its message continue to ring true even today. Speaking about the song in a Facebook post Keys stated, "The day I wrote this song, I was sitting in a circle of people of all ages and we were asked, “Why are you here.” Why am I here?? This really hit me on a deep level. I realized no one had ever asked me that question before."
She continued, "As I prepare to give birth to a new child, I can’t help and think about the world I’m bringing my baby into. No matter where we come from, when we see the state of the world today, we can all feel the growing frustration and desire to make a difference. And we all have a voice – we just need to know how to make it heard," adding, "I believe all of our voices should be heard, so that our representation reflects our population. We need our leadership to reflect an equal balance of the gifts that both men and women have to offer."
Her statement goes on to demand quality education for all children and an end to poverty, oppression, the prison industrial complex, and racial injustice against black people in America. And, rather fittingly, she also adds, "I believe in universal global health care based on Integrative Medicine, so that our bodies are acknowledged and treated as one system, and we can help control the spread of diseases like AIDS, Malaria, TB and Ebola."
She ends by answering her own question: "Our souls were brought together so that we can love each other sister, brother. We Are Here. We are here for all of us. That’s why #WeAreHere."
Pandemic Playlist is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained instead of feeling drained while you're isolated at home. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) to refresh your mood every day.