Song review: ‘Girl on Fire’ by Alicia Keys
Despite so much hype and promotion behind a newly repackaged Alicia Keys, it is more of the same offer. Alicia Keys still speaks of empowerment and struggles in the urban life. Her latest single ‘Girl on Fire’ shares a similar anthemic feel of “Empire state of Mind” where she collaborated with Jay-Z.
But the difference between ‘Girl on Fire” and ‘Empire state of Mind’ is that you feel something big about to happen but it doesn’t really materialize. Don’t get me wrong, Alicia Keys is still one of the better singers around in the R&B category. She is after all a soul-diva. But in my opinion, I think this song may have been rushed in production.
Neither does it help that there are three versions available of the song–the original version, the bluelight version, and the inferno version with Nicki Minaj. The focus instead of the listeners has been spread out into deciding what is the best version among the three?
I have listened to all three versions. While the inferno version with Nicki Minaj is sure to get the attention of a different demographic of listeners and has the most commercial potential, I don’t think it was necessary to have her guest because Nicki Minaj still speaks keeps referencing Marilyn Monroe and that infatuation doesn’t really tie in or connect to the theme of “Girl on fire”.
The two artists just don’t mix well, as their styles are too far apart. It is almost like mixing oil and water. I think it was more of a “trend thing” by the management of Alicia Keys to tap artists who are currently hot. The body of the song itself is minimal in its usage of instrumentation. It has the gradual build that uses a familiar drum beat, a few piano keys, back-up singers and a thin guitar line thrown in. This mixing can be seen as an attempt to focus more on the power of the voice of Alicia Keys. And it is one of the upsides of the song. But it really falls short to achieve the kind of grandiosity, enormity and possibilities of a song that could have been much more.
If you are the listener you know something was missing. Some may cite reasons as the unimaginative lyrics, or not using a different structure for the song, and some may even wonder how the song was finally put together in its final stages in the recording studio. Whatever the reasons may be, I think the shortcomings could have been prevented or lessened. Alicia Keys is an artist that a lot of music critics respect as a songwriter with her articulate and smart choice of lyrics. But it wasn’t evident here. Is she running out of material already to write about?
Even with Alicia Keys undergoing a recent reinvention in the looks department with her 80’s style slicked back hair and a new stylistic logo of her initials, inside she is still the same Alicia Keys in essence and her voice hasn’t changed much since then.
That is why it would be a major disappointment for her if this latest effort from her fails to become the next big hit for her. Sure, this single may receive a fair amount of radio airplay and views in YouTube until the actual cd is released, but you wouldn’t really remember it after a few listens. The song misses a few pieces to it and that lack shouldn’t have been made up for by having three versions of the same single that already was already an AVERAGE easy-to-listen-to pop-song to begin with.