Alicia Keys - Unplugged

2006-03-30 09:45
 

Over the years, the MTV franchise has generated some incredible turns from diverse performers. The benchmarks set by the MTV Unplugged performances of R.E.M., Pearl Jam and Mariah Carey (!) are always going to be hard to top, but one would have expected Alicia Keys - a talented pianist and supposed singer - to come pretty close. Strangely and frustratingly, she doesn't.

Alicia Keys Unplugged has the ingredients... her set is thankfully more up-tempo than those proffered by the likes of Katie Melua, for example. Also, her song choices seem a little less self-indulgent than those of other lady-chanteuses of late; included are compositions by Prince and Jagger and Richards, amongst others.

And to be fair, the opening "Karma" and "Heartburn" are superb funky party-kickers. But the show loses impetus when the music tones down. Though she's fittingly emotive and passionate, Keys is limited as a vocalist, and her shortcomings are exposed surprisingly often in these arrangements.

It seems more like a case of wrong choices than lack of skill. Keys works better as a soul singer than as a strict RnB vocalist. Bizarrely, she seems to insist on being the latter. Strange, when better results overall come from classic soul-tinged efforts like "Every Little Bit Hurts".

But even these are somewhat shown-up by Adam Levine's (Maroon 5) better contemplated guest turn on "Wild Horses". So while there are moments when you feel that Keys is getting into the zone, there's no solid moment of inspiration, like on Carey's version of the Jacksons' "I'll be There".

On a technical note, things aren't helped by a bass-heavy mix in this edition. But that's an issue for audiophiles, and otherwise won't bother Alicia fans too much.

- Anton Marshall


Alicia Keys is young, sexy, and appears to be musically gifted. But the Unplugged set exposes some critical flaws that ultimately damage her appeal to new listeners.

Jean 2005/12/08 1:42 PM
Alicia and others... Seems a lot of the RnB soul crowd mess up the MTV gig. Not sure why. Lauren Hill really messed up too. Monotonous and at once point she has to retake what's probably the best track in the set. Pretty much anything by Jill Scott
T-Hug (take the dash out... and Im a Thug!!!) 2005/12/08 6:20 PM
U guys suck whoever reviewed this unplugged is smoking the hocus. I just copped it and peeped it. Damn homegirl can sing. Phuck what they say Alicia keep doing your thang!!!
Brigitte 2005/12/08 7:55 PM
Don´t be quick to judge, lets see you sing in 5 octaves!!!! I really don´t understand how people can break down some one´s personal performance like that! Sure she is exposed to all critisms but lets see you get up there and play piano, sing and perform! The woman has more talent than 99% of the vocalists out there and does not get nearly enough recognition! Lets hear Britney unpluged! Sure that would be a REAL shocker! I loved the cd, but decide on your own preference. Music is about soul.
Brigitte 2005/12/08 7:55 PM
Don´t be quick to judge, lets see you sing in 5 octaves!!!! I really don´t understand how people can break down some one´s personal performance like that! Sure she is exposed to all critisms but lets see you get up there and play piano, sing and perform! The woman has more talent than 99% of the vocalists out there and does not get nearly enough recognition! Lets hear Britney unpluged! Sure that would be a REAL shocker! I loved the cd, but decide on your own preference. Music is about soul.
alex 2005/12/08 9:08 PM
you're crazy This unplugged session was emotive ,poetic and done with an ease that only a professional, like Alicia,can pull off.This reviewer needs to be objective and constructive than trying to sound like and idols judge who knows it all. Jack Johnson-Inbetween dreams
Goda 2005/12/09 9:28 AM
Alicia's octaves Brigette > can you write reviews? No. That doesn't mean you don't have the right to critisise a reviewer. By the same logic, a reviewer shouldn't be expected to sing five octaves. They should be required to listen to lots of music (more than you do, for example) and assess it fairly. In this case, the reviewer is a musician and *can* sing and play various instruments... Just so you know.
oschille 2006/08/31 5:54 PM
she got soul it's a very good album,the new track "unbreakable" still the best on the disc
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