Our Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs list looks at the career of and amazing prolific singer, songwriter, pianist and 15-time Grammy Award winner. Songs in a Minor was Alicia’s debut album. It debuted at number one on the charts. The hit singles from this album are “Fallin’,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me” and “Girlfriend.” The massive album sold over 12 million copies. This album is considered a classic. She won numerous awards for this project. This is the album that made Keys a star.
Her second album Diary of Alicia Keys came out in 2003. This album had critical and commercial success. This album debuted at number one and it sold over 600,000 copies in its first week. She garnered three top 10 singles. The singles are “You Don’t Know My Name,” “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Diary.” She also released the single “Karma” from this album. She won three Grammy Awards as well as numerous other awards. This album sold more than eight million copies.
Keys released her third album As I Am in 2007. This album debuted at number one with a whopping 742,000 copies in its first week on the charts. The album features the hit singles “No One,” “Like You’ll Never See Me Again,” “Teenage Love Affair” and “Superwoman.” “No One” earned Keys two Grammy Awards. The album sold over 5 million copies.
She released her fourth album The Element of Freedom in 2009. It debuted at number two on the charts. It features the singles “Doesn’t Mean Anything,” “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” “Empire State of Mind (Part II),” “Put it in a Love Song,” “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” and “Wait Til You See Me Smile.” The album sold over four million copies.
In 2012, she released her fifth album Girl on Fire. It debuted at number one on the charts. She changed labels with this project. She changed her style of music. It features rock, electro, reggae and hip-hop. This was different from her r&b and soul sound. She won a Grammy Award for this album. It features the number one single “Girl on Fire.” The other singles include “Brand New Me,” “New Day,” “Fire We Make” and “Tears Always Win.” It sold over one million copies. This was one of her lowest selling albums.
She released her sixth album called Here in 2016. This album debuted at number two on the charts. This is her sixth album to debut in the top 10. This album was about people dealing with social problems. She worked with her husband music producer Swizz Beatz on this album. The album was delayed because she got pregnant in 2014. It was supposed to come out in 2014, but her pregnancy delayed the debut. The album received positive reviews. It features the singles “In Common” and “Blended Family (What You Do For Love).” The album under performed in comparison to her previous work.
Keys released her seventh album Alicia in 2020. She wanted this project to be similar to Here. She talked about socio political issues, police brutality, identity and love. This is her therapeutic album. It features the singles “Show Me Love,” “Time Machine,” “Underdog,” “Good Job,” “Perfect Way to Die,” “So Done” and “Love Looks Better.” Keys took time off from recording after Here was released because she was on the reality show The Voice for three seasons. Alicia debuted at number four, but it slipped off the charts a few weeks later.
Alicia Keys is known for singing about important issues as well as about relationships. Success came to her early in her career. She released a lot of singles and had numerous hits alone as well as with other artists. Her work is well received by the critics. She won several awards because of her work. She has a lot of great songs so it’s easy to see why she won so many awards. This Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs list will feature some of her hit songs as well as her hit songs with other artists.
# 10 – Put it in a Love Song ft. Beyonce
The first song on our Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs list is the girl power anthem “Put it in a Love Song” from the hit album The Element of Freedom. This is noteworthy because it features two divas who were in their prime at the time of the release of this single. This infectious song is about them wanting their lovers to prove that they are worthy of them. This is a song about coming together to empower each other. This has a moderate tempo, which sounds similar to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” It has the same theme as Beyonce’s hit single.
The percussion is the musical star. It makes you want to move around in your seat or on the dance floor. Keys and Beyonce’s vocals are delightful. Their voices practically blend together. Beyonce brings out her Sasha Fierce persona in the song. Strangely enough, Beyonce does take a back seat to Keys in the song. Keys gets a chance to come out of her comfort zone and sings a sassy song. This is a great change for Keys. The only complaint about the song is the ending doesn’t have a smooth transition. It ends abruptly and leaves the listener hanging.
# 9 – Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart
The next song on our Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs list is the Prince inspired “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” taken from the amazing album The Element of Freedom. This creative ballad is one of the best songs on the album. This is a heart-wrenching ballad about trying to make it without her love. This song has a synth pop and r&b sound. She is showing her vulnerable side in this song. She opted to sing the verses in a whispery tone in the beginning of the song. She sings at the top of her lungs in the hook. It gives her vocals a good balance by blending her whispery tone with her louder tone. She is channeling her inner Prince in her vocals. This sounds like a song he would have done. When she starts to vocalize in her songs, her voice tends to crack at times, but that didn’t happen in this song. Her vocals are pure and smooth.
# 8 – Empire State of Mind ft. Jay-Z
This anthemic song is taken from Jay-Z’s classic Blueprint 3 album. Keys has a version of the song on her album, but this list will focus on her version with Jay-Z. This creative song could easily be about New York. They are both from New York. It is actually an inspirational song about hope. You don’t have to be from New York to appreciate the message. This song has an r&b and hip-hop sound. This combination works. There is a sample of “Love on a Two-Way Street.” Here is some trivia about the song. Mary J. Blige was supposed to sing the hook to this song. He chose Keys after hearing the piano loop she did. Keys and Blige have similar vocal styles so either one of the r&b stars could have sung the hook.
Her vocals are on point. She is bellowing throughout her portion of the song. Her vocals are strong and exemplify her vocal creativity. She is not a balladeer so her soaring might not have worked. As mentioned earlier, her voice tends to crack when she sings at the top of her lungs, but she managed to control her voice. Jay-Z also does a stellar job with his rap lyrics. You can hear in his rhymes how much he appreciates his hometown. He does a lot of name checking in the song, but it doesn’t hurt the track. Jay-Z and Keys were an unlikely pair who managed to pull off a stellar song.
# 7 – You Don’t Know My Name
This flirty song is taken from the ingenious album The Diary of Alicia Keys. This smooth r&b and soul ballad is the first single from this uber successful album. This innovative song is about her getting to know a guy who comes to her job every day. This song is unique because she is singing in character. In the song, she is waitress who is serving a man who orders the same meal every day. People don’t usually sing songs like this so it was an original touch.
The beautiful music contains a sample of “Let Me Prove My Love to You” by The Main Ingredient. It gives the song an old school feel to it. She still manages to include her beautiful piano chords in the song. She uses versatility because she sings the verses in a low and whispery key while she sings the hook in a higher key. She does include a lot of talking in the song that isn’t needed. She is in character while she is saying the dialogue, but it makes the song longer than it needs to be. Other than the talking, the song is pretty good.
# 6 – No One
This love song is from the hugely successful As I Am album. This appealing song is an r&b ballad. It is about people trying to get in the way of your relationship. Here is some trivia about the song. This song was the last one written for the album. The music is soulful and romantic. The piano is beautiful. Her piano skills are magical. She is truly gifted when it comes to music. She lets the music lead the song. Her vocals take a mini backseat to the musical production. Speaking of her vocals, they are gut wrenching. She sings with a lot soul. She does a lot of runs throughout the song. She didn’t sing as many runs on the first album so she showed a lot of growth as an artist. Unfortunately, when she sings at the top of her lungs, her voice cracks. This is an example of her doing too much vocally at times. Her vocals are getting away from her. She starts the song with her voice cracking. It cracks in different parts of the song. It could be distracting if it weren’t such a beautiful song.
# 5 – Girl on Fire
This radiant song is from the album of the same name. This is the lead single from the underrated album. This appealing ballad has an r&b and rock sound. This anthemic and inspirational song is about her breaking free from her metaphoric cage. She is celebrating women’s accomplishments. This liberating song is perfect for women empowerment. She managed to make an overused girl power anthem sound original. Her trademark piano makes an appearance in the song, which complimented her vocals. The booming drums compliment her soaring vocals. The melody of the song is harmonious and exhilarating. She holds controlled notes without her voice cracking. She clearly wants the world to know that she is free and in control. This was the perfect way to introduce the world to this underrated CD.
# 4 – If I Ain’t Got You
The next song on our Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs list is the alluring “If I Ain’t Got You” from the massive hit album The Diary of Alicia Key. This impeccable ballad has an r&b and jazz sound. Keys wrote this song after Aaliyah passed away. It is about not taking love for granted. Here is some trivia about the song. Christina Aguilera was supposed to sing this song. Keys decided to keep the song and gave Aguilera another song called “Impossible.” This song has the same piano bars as “Impossible.” The song showcases Keys’ range. She has the whispery vocals for the verses and the soul rendering vocals for the hook. Her voice does crack a little in the hook, but it helps because it gives her voice a rawness that helps make the song sound soulful.
# 3 – My Boo ft. Usher
This dazzling song is from Usher’s hugely successful Confessions album. This marvelous song has a pop, r&b, soul and hip-hop sound. It combines multiple genres and will please fans of both artists. Her trademark piano was missing from the music, but it’s still enjoyable. This wonderful song is about an ex-couple who believe they will only love each other. They wanted to tell a story from both points of view. The lyrics consist of verses and two choruses. Usher starts the song with his smooth vocals. Keys tries her hand at rapping when she does the chorus. This is new for her and she does a good job. When she sings the second verse, Usher performs the chorus. It is an interesting back and forth between the artists. They worked really well together. They have vocal chemistry with each other.
# 2 – A Woman’s Worth
This anthemic song is the second single from the classic Songs in A Minor. This is a piano driven soul and r&b ballad. This anthem is about treating women with respect. This theme has been used numerous times. The music is melodic and has an old school feel to it. It is a contrast to the theme because it sounds like bedroom music despite the theme. Her vocals are layered because she uses a double throughout the song. She also shows versatility because her double is in a deeper key. Her voice cracked a little when she tried to shout over the music. She didn’t need to shout because the music was soft. She is a little hard to understand in the lyrics because she races through them in the bridge. These little flaws don’t take away from how great this song is.
# 1 – Fallin’
The number one song on our Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs list is the tremendous “Fallin’” taken from the widely popular Songs in A Minor. This incredible ballad has an r&b and neo soul sound. Her trademark piano tinkling gives the music a classic sound. This song is about the ins and outs of love. Sometimes you love a person and other times you hate them. Keys’ vocal range is a roller coaster because she goes up and down throughout the song. The deeper moments of her voice take you by surprise. You can tell she is really passionate about the subject. It’s hard to believe that she wrote this song as a teenager. It sounds like someone much older wrote the track. She also sounds like a seasoned singer. You would never know that this song is from her debut album. There is no wonder that this song helped skyrocket her career to where it is.
Feature Photo: Lukas from Munich, Germany, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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