For a decade, Alicia Keys was a picture of class making the best RnB that reminds you of the classics but still kept accessible for modern times with four albums that range between good and great. Then in between album she got caught up in a bit of a scandal where she was accused of being a home wrecking. And looking at the evidence, it is probably true. Granted on the scale of scandals, home wrecking ranks near the bottom of most egregious but it is a bit weird listening to her new music with that nuggets in the back of your mind especially when the guy in the equation, Swizz Beats produced a song on the album. It does not help that New Day may be the weakest track on the album.
It is also a bit odd that she named her fifth album Girl On Fire which shares the name of The Hunger Games sequel that is set to be released next summer but does not seem to share anything with the movie series aside from the name. (Let me quickly add a three word review of the movie: severly over-hyped.) It just seems like a shameless attempt to attach herself to the biggest pop culture phenomenon of the year. It also does not help that the title track is probably the second weakest song on the album that is brought down even further by the always annoying Nicki Minaj. It should be noted that the smoother and Minaj-less Bluelight Version (which is not featured on the album) is significantly better than the Minaj enhanced Inferno Version on the album.
Those mediocre songs aside, Girl on Fire is another solid album by Alicia Keys. Thankfully she washes the bad Minaj taste out of your mouth on the next song by singing duet with Maxwell on Fire We Make with guitar by Gary Clark Jr. while both singers get their smooth falsetto on. But some of her strongest tunes were when Keys did some co-writing with British songstress Emeli Sandé (who was supposed to be this year’s Adele but never caught on stateside) on Brand New Me, Not Even the King, and 101.
Keys also brought in uber-nineties writer / producer Babyface for That’s When I Knew which drops Keys traditional piano for a beautiful acoustic guitar based ballad. But it was Bruno Mars and his The Smeezingtons production team (who is best known for The Song Otherwise Known as Forget You) that contributed the best track on the album Tears Always Win. A modern throwback that Mars and his boys are best known for and ranks as one of her best track in her career. It almost makes you forget any past transgressions.
Song to Download - Tears Always Win
Girl on Fire gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.