Is it me, or did the music industry take a couple of giant steps backwards by awarding Alicia Keys five Grammys?
Keys’ album, Songs in A Minor, debuted last summer and since then has experienced an incredible amount of critical and commercial success. At the tender age of 20, she has sold over 4 million albums and tied Lauryn Hill’s 1999 record for the most Grammys won by a female artist. Her shelf now adorns Grammys for “Best Female Vocal
Performance,Song of the Year (for “Fallin'”), “Best R&B Album,” “Best R&B Song” (for “Fallin”), and “Best New Artist.”
Keys might have deserved one of these prestigious awards.
And the only reason I am being that kind is because the other options weren’t always more appealing.
But if anyone deserved to win the other four of her Grammys, it would have to be Alicia’s public relations team, because they marketed the hell out of her childhood on the “hard streets of NYC.”
When it comes down to it, we all love a good story of ghetto superstardom complete with a single- parent household, a rough neighborhood and some type of special skill that eventually leads to the “great escape.”
So why has Keys been so successful? While it is a rarity, Keys is certainly not the first black female piano player.
She doesn’t have an outstanding voice and her lyrics are mediocre at best. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of the four million plus people who bought Songs in A Minor.
I was hoodwinked by the catchiness of Alicia’s first single “Fallin” and expected the rest of the album to mirror the song’s originality and well-crafted composition.
Also, there is something undeniably attractive about her spirit. But after listening to her album in its entirety, I was quite disappointed. I listened to it again, hoping I would discover something I missed the first time. I listened to it yet again, wondering when it would grow on me.
Then, I gave up. I think I wouldn’t have disliked it so much if I hadn’t expected such high quality. Perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by exposure to other musicians who can write, compose and sing. Don’t get me wrong; I do think Alicia has a lot of talent. Her execution just hasn’t been honed to the point where she’s creating music that deserves the praise it has received.
When they start handing out Grammys for the most overrated artist of the year, I will be in the front row chanting Alicia’s name.
Kristin McDonald, 20, a junior newspaper journalism student from Columbia, Md. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.