Alicia Keys goes retro on new single ’28 Thousand Days’
Alicia Keys • 28 Thousand Days – Single • RCA • Release Date: July 31, 2015
Alicia Keys came to play on her new single, “28 Thousand Days.” Before analyzing Keys’ new single, let’s take a brief look on how she arrived at “28 Thousand Days.” How is this single like her past or her more contemporary songs?
Keys’ music began to shift after the heavy neo-soul and hip-hop soul styling of her first two and arguably most profound studio albums Songs In A Minor (2001) and The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003). As I Am still had dashes of the more soulful strain of R&B that made Keys a success, but it also marked the beginning of a departure from that vein, as many of Keys’ contemporaries were also doing. The Element of Freedom was more pop-oriented, while Girl On Fire was an eclectic mix of pop, contemporary R&B, and some throwback R&B (the duet with Maxwell, “Fire We Make”).
So that said, what does Alicia Keys’ “28 Thousand Days” tell us. Well, it’s definitely funkier and arguably more soulful than say Keys’ last number one “No One” was back in 2007. That’s not saying it trumps Keys’ last truly gargantuan commercial splash, but this has more reliance on retro- and throwback soul cues. It’s not anachronistic, but it makes you wonder if Keys is aiming for a studio album that’s takes more inspiration from the past.
“28 Thousand Days” is quite catchy with immense bite and attitude, yet it doesn’t sound like it will be a hit single. That may sound like shade, but it isn’t. In this day and age, “28 Thousand Days” will get play on R&B-/urban leaning stations, but its seems a bit more far-fetched to hear this record spinning on the mainstream. No matter how much the groove has you nodding your head or tapping the foot, it just seems like a joint that’ll be more successful in R&B circles. Compare it to “Girl On Fire” which made the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Could “28 Thousand Days” do the same with its distorted keyboard and hard drums? This guy is skeptical.
But let’s set the commercial aside and go with the quality of “28 Thousand Days.” There’s nothing wrong with it in the least; this is the Alicia Keys – at least post The Diary Of Alicia Keys – that I’d personally rather hear. She’s more on that urban spectrum. There’s nothing wrong with her venturing out, but is there anyone who will argue that Alicia Keys isn’t great when it come to R&B? NO – that’s rhetorical to the nth degree and more. Will this save R&B? No, but it will enhance the sometimes skimpy playlist of 2015 with an enjoyable song.
Where does this rank with classic Alicia Keys? We know that “Fallin’,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” and “If I Ain’t Got You” are her aces in the hole, with “No One,” “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready),” and “Girl On Fire” as strong showings if not at the same level as the best. The jury is still out on “28 Thousand Days” legacy, but there’s definitely something there.