If you’re absent from social media, you may be unaware of the amount of hate urban female singers receive, particularly Alicia Keys, Beyoncé and Ciara. Yesterday, the most fitting Willy Wonka meme floated across my Tumblr dashboard (view here). It read: “Oh, so Alicia Keys screams when she sings? Tell me about how many Grammys you won.”
Alicia is regularly berated for how she chooses to sing her songs. Sometimes, the criticizing is warranted. On occasion, Alicia will get on stage and seemingly ignore every vocal technique known to man. Seeing a talented musician sing without comfort should be disheartening, but it should not yield malice. For every coarse televised performance, there is a grander live showing, but sometimes on a smaller platform. Case in point: Keys’ “Girl On Fire.”
Upon debuting the studio version, listeners–myself included–were intrigued to hear how she’d interpret the record live. Like “No One,” her first major performance of the record was on one of pop music’s biggest stages–the MTV Video Music Awards (view here).
Frankly, the live rendition did not translate as effectively as most hoped (even Keys herself courageously admitted she may have written the song too high). Nevertheless, Alicia proceeded with performing the inspirational tune on various stages, and she consistently got better (in her own words: “everybody gotta practice”).
Due to my lack of expertise (or care) about the technicality of one’s singing, I’m not certain what happened here, but I think she may have shredded a key off the song. If this is indeed true, it didn’t cheapen the song, and Keys still delivered the song with soul-filled, fiery passion.
Due to the frequent use of live and studio vocal enhancers–that Alicia apparently bravely refuses to use–Pop buffs’ ears have become accustomed to unnatural “perfect singing.” These self-proclaimed music specialists dissect every note Keys sings, making performances such as her one on Norwegian-Swedish talk show, Skavlan, go unrecognized or under appreciated.
Watch below as Alicia entertains a comical host and soars during her performance of “Girl On Fire.”
[Video: Alicia Keys Media]