Best Alicia Keys Songs to Add to Your Playlist
The 2020 Grammys are fast approaching and while the lineup of performers is impressive (Lil Nas X, Ariana Grande, and Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, to name a few), we’re most excited for the evening’s host: Alicia Keys. This is her second year in a row hosting music’s biggest night, with the show airing on CBS Sunday, January 26 at 8 p.m. ET.
The 38-year-old singer-songwriter is the third woman of color and last year was the first woman in 14 years to host the Grammys, following in the footsteps of legends such as Queen Latifah, Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, and Whoopi Goldberg. So how can she top last year’s big surprise Michelle Obama moment? We’ll just have to wait in see. But in honor of her title as this year’s master of ceremonies, we’ve rounded up her best songs (in no particular order) to put on repeat ahead of the show.
This 2020 single is apart of of Keys’ upcoming album ALICIA, set to be released on March 20. (She’s also heading off on a summer tour). It’s an uplifting song that’s sure to leave you feeling empowered.
Show Me Love
Keys released this soulfully sensual track in September 2019. With a feature by R&B singer Miguel, the single was her first release since her 2016 album “Here.” And has if the passionate vocals weren’t enough, the accompanying music video starring Michael B. Jordan and Zoe Saldana will really get you.
Blended Family (What You Do for Love)
This 2016 ode honors the blended family Keys has created with her husband, hip-hop producer Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, and his ex-wife, Blend author Mashonda Tifrere. The sweet black-and-white music video accompanying the song features Keys, Swizz Beatz, and their children.
“Fallin'” was the first single from the singer’s 2001 debut album, Songs in A Minor. The chart-topping hit spawned four Grammy wins for Song of the Year, Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and Record of the Year.
You Don’t Know My Name
Featuring Keys’s signature piano chords, the 2003 soul song is from her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys. Throughout the six-minute song, she pours her heart out for a guy she’s crushing on who hasn’t noticed her—yet.
Keys first introduced fans to the 2016 song during a May appearance on Saturday Night Live. The Caribbean-infused hit is all about opposites attracting and discovering they actually have more in common than they thought.
A Woman’s Worth
The empowering 2002 song from Keys debut album is all about women knowing and understanding their worth. Keys also wrote and produced the record.
In this 2005 song from Keys’ Unplugged album, she celebrates Black love by naming some of the most influential couples in Hollywood. Of course, Oprah and Stedman Graham and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are included as positive relationship examples.
Teenage Love Affair
The 2007 song from Keys’s As I Am album was praised by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Best Songs of 2007.” Keys also pays homage to Spike Lee’s 1988 classic film, School Daze, in the music video, which also features actor Derek Luke as her love interest.
Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
Rapper Jay-Z and Keys had fans across the globe singing about the “concrete jungle” (a.k.a. New York City) following the release of this 2009 hit single from his The Blueprint 3 album. Keys specifically recorded this stripped-down version for her own project, The Element of Freedom.
If I Ain’t Got You
The sixth single from Keys’s second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was inspired by her personal life. But according to Complex, it was also written in reaction to the September 11 attacks in New York and the untimely death of R&B singer Aaliyah in 2001.
“The song idea came together right after Aaliyah passed away,” Keys said. “It was such a sad time and no one wanted to believe it. It just made everything crystal clear to me—what matters, and what doesn’t.”
In 2008, Keys praised the strength of powerful women in the hit single from her As I Am album.
“The beauty of ‘Superwoman’ is that it’s not about being all-powerful and being perfect, ’cause no one is,” Keys told Billboard. “It’s about perfection in our weaknesses and perfection in our imperfection, that we can still keep going and we can still learn and still remain strong. Even when we’re feeling weak, we can still be superwomen and supermen. I love what that says about all that I’ve learned this year.”
Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)
Rapper Drake assisted with writing this 2008 love song from Keys’s The Element of Freedom album, and he’s featured on the track as well. Both the song and the video deal with a relationship that may not last because of a pair’s obvious differences.
Of course, we had to include the 2007 song that won the 2008 Grammy for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. In 2007, Keys told Billboard that creating the ballad was a no-brainer.
“This is one song that just wrote itself,” she said. “A lot of the songs didn’t happen like that. It was one of the last songs I wrote. It’s full force, classical yet vintage, desperate yet triumphant. I want people to feel my soul.”
Like You’ll Never See Me Again
This 2007 song is all about being present and savoring every moment in a relationship. It also interpolates the melody from Prince’s Purple Rain.
Fire We Make
Keys and neo-soul singer Maxwell teamed up for this steamy 2012 duet that explores the fiery passion two lovers have for each other. It was the seventh single from Keys’s Girl on Fire album
Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart
In 2009, Keys released this song as the second single from her fourth album, The Element of Freedom. The heartbreaking song chronicles a woman who wants to move on from a previous relationship but can’t stop thinking about her ex.
Put It In a Love Song
In 2009, Keys and Beyoncé collaborated on this groundbreaking song about making their love interest profess their feelings in the form of a love song. Both Keys and Beyoncé were spotted on the streets of Brazil filming the music video, but, much to fans’ disappointment, it never was released.
We Are Here
The 2014 feel-good anthem seeks to unify people in the midst of war and hatred. On Facebook, Keys shared this message of hope about the song: “I believe in peace, love, and unity. I believe that this vision can be a reality. And it’s not about me. It’s about WE. Together we can give birth to a kinder and more peaceful world for ALL children.”
How Come You Don’t Call Me
If Keys’s third single from her inaugural album sounds familiar, it’s because the 2002 song is actually a cover of Prince’s 1992 ballad, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?”
As the title of the 2001 track implies, this love song is all about getting the goosebumps or “butterflies” when you’re around that special someone. Fun fact: Though the song appeared on her first album, Songs in A Minor, she actually wrote it at the age of 14 before she was ever signed to a music label.
Brand New Me
Keys debuted a new haircut and outlook on life on the second single from her 2012 album, Girl on Fire.
“‘Brand New Me’ is about the journey it takes to get to a place where you are proud to be a new you,” she told The BoomBox. “There is nothing wrong with growing. This song is a conversation introducing them to the new you.”