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
This weekend Scott Stapp, the voice of legendary rock band Creed, kicks off his world tour in South Africa. Read More »
Add your review
Ciara’s sixth studio album has beat and sex appeal but lacks heart. Read More »
Add your review
South AfricaCity Press
Johannesburg CBDResourcing Solutions
HousesR 2 495 000
HousesR 1 985 000
HousesR 3 300 000