Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire (ft. Nicki Minaj)

Alica Keys is one of the biggest names in RnB music today, and she has recently returned with a brand new song, Girl on Fire. I’d like to take this time to point out that despite what the name might suggest, this song is in no way connected to the Hunger Games. Despite how appropriate the connection might be, this song will not be the theme to Catching Fire, and it was not written with Katniss in mind. That said, the song probably would have been much more interesting if it was Hunger Games inspired….

Times have changed since Keys’s debut in the early 2000’s. We haven’t heard her really hit the mark since 2007 (2009 if you count her Jay-Z collaboration with Empire State of Mind). As such, Alicia is now using this song as an opportunity to reinvent herself, if it wasn’t evident from her more extreme fashions, edgier new logo, and guest collaboration with the ever controversial Nicki Minaj. With three versions of her new single, it seems like Alicia is pulling out all the stops for her return. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite stick…

Girl on Fire is nothing new. If anything, its a step backwards. Alicia’s music has always been characterized by lush and melodic piano melodies. However, this time around, the pianos have been covered up by the same thumping rnb beat that we’ve heard in every other rnb-inspired song released in the past five years. The music is actually quite stagnant and repetitive, and lacks the melodic qualities of Alicia’s past work.

Luckily, we can always count on Miss Keys to write some touching and emotional lyrics, right? Well, not this time, apparently. Girl on Fire attempts to be an inspiring and empowering anthem. You know…just like Born this Way, FireworkStronger, or any number of self-empowering songs that were released last year. The sad thing is that they all did it better than the lazy lyrics of Girl on Fire. Alicia sings her way through a repetitive chorus, and genius verses like “You can try, but you can’t forget her name/ She’s on top of the world/ Hottest of the hottest, girls say.” Wow, Alicia…way to dig deep. Nicki’s verses help add some heat to the fire with creative lyrics about Marilyn Monroe and praying for the strength to rise above critics and the haters. Maybe she could have helped Alicia on her verses?

While the song is lack luster, one thing I can’t do is knock Alicia for her vocals. She manages to summon an impressive amount of vocal strength, and even manages to create a warm aura in her delivery. With the full strength of her voice, she manages to take the song to a level that it simply couldn’t reach on it’s own. Nicki’s biting verses also shine, and are without a doubt the best thing she’s done this year. Together, the two make a formidable duo…I just can’t help but wonder what they could have done with a better song…

Final Score: 2/5

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