The best artists evolve, at least that’s popular opinion. Throughout her career, Alicia Keys has done that. The argument could be made, however, that Keys’ older music is more potent and more important to shaping her artistry. Undoubtedly, Keys’ first two albums – Songs In A Minor and The Diary Of Alicia Keys – are her best. After third studio album As I Am, musically, one questions “the weight” of the music she’s releasing. That isn’t to say she still doesn’t have that extra special something but is New Alicia Keys as great as old Alicia Keys? No.
That assertion is supported by Keys’ new single, “In Common.” “In Common” is a contemporary R&B record that, much like post-As I Am Alicia Keys trends toward pop. Gone are all flashes of neo-soul and retro soul that made Keys a force in the neo-soul movement and established her as an “old soul.” Here, Keys seems to embrace the present and future of the genre, which has struggled to find commercial footing and a place on the radio airwaves in recent times.
So, how good/memorable is “In Common.” It doesn’t seem like a hit. It’s okay, but this won’t necessarily propel Keys to newfound success or more relevance in the current music climate. Honestly, while backpedalling may not be the answer, perhaps if Keys embraced some of the cues that made her such a success and fused them with cues of more contemporary music, she might pack more punch and garner more interest. Give her credit for experimenting, but “In Common” is no “Fallin’,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” “If I Ain’t Got You” – the list goes on and on and “In Common” trumps none.
It hurts to be critical of my one-time music celebrity crush, but objectively speaking, this isn’t her best, and it’s been four years since Girl On Fire. Maybe it’s a grower? Then maybe again, it’s not…
Alicia Keys • In Common – Single • RCA