Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Alicia Keys – In Common

Her first time scoring over [6.00] with us since that time she healed a dead dog


Juana Giaimo: “In Common” is a surprise for people like me who haven’t been following Alicia Keys. Her strong vocals have been replaced by a weak hush, and the production now focuses on a subtle and warm beat that fits her wordplay. However, if Alicia Keys seemed that kind of lucky person who looked fresh and full of vitality in the morning, in “In Common” she is suddenly exhausted. There are only rests of youth and passion, but it’s not simply indifference. She tries to understand how it all ended up like this, but rather than trying to change, she can barely find enough energy to sigh. 

Alfred Soto: Beseeching over shakers and a tropical house beat, Dawn Richard sounds as fresh as she ever did.

Cassy Gress: It’s hard for me to listen to Alicia Keys anymore, even studio recordings, and not constantly think about whether she’s in tune. She neatly avoided the issue here by leaving the belting out of it and handling her notes with a much lighter touch. But now, with that mambo rhythm and with the synths that sound like a hazy reflection on stainless steel, I’m thinking about whether she’s trying to sound like Rihanna. Man, I’m starting to hear Rihanna soundalikes even when they’re probably not really there. I don’t love this, but I like it better than her old girl-with-piano style; the trouble is that “girl with piano” was much more distinguishable.

Ryo Miyauchi: Alicia Keys’ voice doesn’t rise above a whisper on Illangelo’s equally smoky, vacant beat, and she instead leaves her flashbacks opaque enough for the listeners fill the colors on their own. She could’ve easily knocked this out by hitting high notes, but that  would’ve washed out the subtle details behind her complicated  relationship. Better yet, her sighs let her pain behind the lyric “if you could love someone like me, you must be messed up too” burn slow and linger well after the record stops.

Brad Shoup: Turnabout is fair Drake.

Jer Fairall: I get using Drake and Rihanna’s “Take Care” as a template, but aside from the ironic little titter that follows  “when we were young and we ain’t had no vows,” Keys is so intent to blend into the surroundings that there’s no attempt to infuse this with any personality or tension. 

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: A competent, yet ultimately bland attempt of a reinvention. Alicia’s dreamy high-pitched tone blends quite well with the Caribbean-lite cadence (which she’s no stranger to), and the track does feel chart-friendly (trend-hopping, really), but these ingredients just fall short of, well, everything. “In Common” lacks the impact to account for a good comeback, even when she’s pointing at an interesting new direction. 

Patrick St. Michel: Sometimes, hopping on the latest trends can work out just fine. “In Common” hitches itself to a vague tropical house/dancehall sound, but ends up spacious enough where Alicia Keys vocal details get the attention they deserve. The self-negging chorus is kind of a downer — feels like all the big hits of 2016 sound poolside-ready, but feature depressing lyrics, can someone sound happy on a song like this, or do we have to settle for Justin Timberlake’s gunk? — but overall not a bad look for Keys. 

Taylor Alatorre: Previously on Empire, Alicia Keys guest-starred as Skye Summers, a pop-R&B singer of “sorority girl break-up songs” who’s itching to break out of that circumscribed role. Though Keys insists the character is not to be read as autobiographical, it’s an interesting analogue for someone whose exact place in the music industry has never been clearly established. Is she neo-soul’s Top 40 ambassador, or merely “the Whitney Houston of piano playing?” Is she defined more by her Grammy tributes to Stevie and Etta, or her Jay Z and Usher collabs? In this game of competing expectations, maybe the only winning move is not to play. Without either capitulating to trends or rejecting them outright, “In Common” makes a stronger case for Alicia as cosmopolitan girl-next-door than anything this side of A Minor, or at least “Un-thinkable.” And much unlike her saccharine, pseudo-woke duet with Empire‘s lead crooner, it “speaks her truth” clearly — softly, but clearly.

Reader average: [8] (8 votes)

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One Response to “Alicia Keys – In Common”

  1. I’ve heard this song at least a few times the past few weeks (though apparently didn’t review it, gj self) and wow, I expected a higher average than the one it was given.