Alicia Keys is a beautiful lady and has enjoyed a successful career. Unfortunately, when she has to sing live, you wouldn’t think she’s an accomplished singer. Her success as a vocalist emerges from her ability to sing much better in the studio. Many recording artists cannot sing live and Alicia Keys is a representative example. If it were not for her beauty and the reputation she’s built from her studio album sells, she would be one of those artists who quickly fade away.
Although her gorgeous face and breathtaking body are contributing factors in her enduring success, her success in more recent years has resulted from her ability to understand how to create songs that connect to larger phenomena than herself. Her song, “Girl on Fire,” shrewdly connects with numerous women. One of the most important ways it resonates with many women is it’s a song they can use and sing to express their self-confidence and celebrate their accomplishments, physical appearance, independence, and/or any other thing that gives them joy. In her collaboration with Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind,” she not only forms a bond with New Yorkers by singing a song that can be viewed as an anthem for New York, but also connects with millions of Americans who love New York, especially in a post-9/11 America.
Those responsible for managing and marketing her must advise her to be more selective about the live events she elects to sing at. If Keys is going to sing at live events, she needs to avoid high notes. Her voice cracks entirely too much when she’s singing live (especially when attempting high notes). In the studio, she has opportunities to correct errors she often makes when she’s singing live—without anyone ever knowing she made any errors.
Alicia Keys will not continue to be successful if she keeps having horrible vocal performances at prominent events like the Super Bowl and The Grammy Awards.
Keys shouldn’t allow her ego to fool her into believing she’s having amazing live vocal performances—when they’re really atrocious. Whether she knows it or not, she’s beginning to develop the wrong reputation: “she’s not a good singer” or “she cannot sing at all,” which are frequent statements made by numerous individuals on Facebook and Twitter in response to her live performances.
In “Posing as a Great Singer: Trey Songz’s Intriguing Success,” I wrote about the horrendous live vocal performances of Trey Songz. His managers and marketers, however, are more discerning about how many live performances he does and the type of events he performs at. During live performances, they sell his physical appearance more than his vocals. Keys would be better served by highlighting her physical appearance more than her vocals when performing live.
Are you a fan of Alicia Keys? Do you think she’s a good live singer? Why or why not?
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Alicia Keys Sets Fire To The NBA All Star Game (VIDEO) (noseygirl.com)
- Ne-Yo, Alicia Keys Dogged For NBA All-Star Sound: “The Mix Is Horrid” (y98.cbslocal.com)
- Positive Responses to Alicia Keys Singing the National Anthem, ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ (contactmusic.com)
- Alicia Keys Addresses Beyoncé Lip-Synch Claims – MTV UK (mtv.co.uk)
- Alicia Keys Kills The All Star Game (Literally); Shaq Sings Along (soletschat.net)
- Was Alicia Keys’ Super Bowl anthem too slow? (todayentertainment.today.com)
- Alicia Keys Sings the National Anthem; Jhud Performs “America the Beautiful” at Super Bowl (video) (5pinkave.com)
- Alicia Keys to Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl: 5 Star-Spangled Fails She Won’t Make (hollywood.com)
- OWN Kicks Off Season 3 of ‘Oprah’s Master Class’ With Alicia Keys (madamenoire.com)