Humpday Hate: Alicia Keys.

Via Gawker’s American Idol recap, we get this hilarious aside on the R&B songstress:

Can we talk for a second about Alicia Keys? I know you’re on your lunch hour and you don’t have that much time, but I’d really like to talk to you about Alicia Keys. Why? That’s my big question with Alicia Keys. Why? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I keep on falling for that “I Keep Falling” song. And if I ain’t got “If I Ain’t Got You,” then I’m not doing too well. And no one doesn’t like “No One.” So I like A.Keys. But she’s not some Incredible Genius who writes Life-Changing Songs. And yet she’s sort of treated like that? I feel like every time she performs on something we’re supposed to clasp our hands and put them to our chests and shake our heads and make a little gasp and just be like “Now that is an artist.” You know what I’m saying? It’s all a bit silly. She’s a smart lady, went to fancy schmany Columbia and all that, but her lyrics are mostly very silly and she writes pop songs. Alicia Keys writes fun pop songs. But she’s not exactly Joan Baez. I mean, she plays the piano so she changed her last name to Keys. That kind of says it all for me. She’s one thing and we treat her like another thing and it’s just sort of funny. If Alicia Keys is a Legend then I am Mark Harmon. And despite my silvery gray hair and Naval crime solving, I am not Mark Harmon.

This is a headdesk moment, but I always just assumed that her last name was actually  “Keys.” Like: “What an interesting and fitting coincidence!” Now I’m annoyed at myself. But more at her.



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • leo

    “Now I’m annoyed at myself. But more at her.”

    definitely more her.

  • Hey, don’t feel bad—I thought Strummer was Joe’s given surname for the longest.


  • LOL! Her real last name is Cooke.

    When she first came out I couldn’t stand her screaming/wailing. It wasn’t until her second album (once she sounded like she got some vocal coaching) that I could get into her. And, now that I’m into her, her songwriting seems to have gone by the wayside. *Sigh* Oh well.

  • Her 1st album spoke to me, the second was great, especially since I saw her play the piano upside down in concert, the third was very meh, and I didn’t even bother to copy the 4th one’s files off my brother’s laptop.

    • “…the second was great, especially since I saw her play the piano upside down in concert…”

      you just don’t drop something like this in conversation without explaining. “‘Member when Meek’s car was in the shop and he was ridin’ that giant tarantula to work?”

      So, um. Explain.

  • Don’t feel bad. I never gave it much thought. The coincidence didn’t even cross my mind. I’m slow.

    • quadmoniker

      Yeah, that’s how I was. Keys is totally a plausible last name. And also, I don’t immediately think of pianos as having keys, even though that’s what they’re called.

  • Val

    So we have one bright singer who doesn’t appear half-naked and fling her weave round and round and now they want to attack Alicia? Why? Does the author expect her to be a folk singer? She’s never pretended to be more or less than a pop singer.

    The point of his piece is Alicia doesn’t sell herself short. She endeavors to do good works outside of music. She’s an accomplished musician and songwriter and that really bothers him.

    I bet he loves Beyoncé.

    Lol@ you thinking her last name was actually Keys.

    • shani-o

      Compared to Alicia, hey, I love Beyonce. And I don’t even ride for B like that. But her “songwriting” is no more deep or interesting than B’s “songwriting” is.

    • Come on. you can defend your girl, but don’t argue against a point he’s not making. Did he say A. Keys didn’t do good works outside of music? or that she was boring because she’s less aggressively sexed-up than B?

      And would any of those things make her music better?

  • Lmao @ giant tarantula!

    she laid on her back on the big part of the piano and reached back and played a song. It was brilliant. I can’t remembre what she played but I know that she would have to learn to play sumn backward to do that cuz the keys are in the total opposite position to her hands…

  • RtG

    It’s so funny to see this post because I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. The singles off of her most recent album are mostly blah to me. I liked her a lot when she first came out because her style was different, she wrote her own music, and I have to admit, I sang “Fallin'” at the top of my lungs the whole summer of 2001. But neither her voice nor her songs warrant the thirteen Grammys she’s won.

  • This is why I never really want to get to know recording artists, actors, visual artists or even athletes I like. I wanna enjoy their work. I don’t want to hear interviews or see deep E! personal bios. 9 times out of 10 there will be some ish in there I’m not gonna like and I’ll be forced to change the channel.

  • I remember when she first came out everyone made a big thing out of the fact that she could play the piano. “She’s so talented.” I never got it until I saw Lauryn Hill try to play guitar on that tragic Unplugged special. Just kidding.

    • Scipio Africanus

      I still ride for Lauryn’s Unplugged.

    • LOL. oh, man. you can’t tell Lauryn Hill’s that she’s not Hendrix or Clapton, tho. She’s an artist!

  • She annoyed the sh*t out of me early in her career because she clung to that piano like Linus clutches that blanket. Then late in her career, her smugness annoyed..but now she’s allegedly sleeping with a married man, and that takes her down a few notches, so I dig her. Plus, her new cd is prettay prettay good. this whole paragraph is irrational and illogical

  • ShonQuayshah

    hi everyone!

    i like some of a.keys songs, but i can’t help but think that she is more popular/marketable because of her looks.

    there are other artists who have far better voices and songwriting skills….like lalah hathaway, india arie, jill scott, teedra moses…yet they lack a certain “look” (light, bright damn near white and “good hair” (not my term, but you know what i mean)

    please dont shoot the messenger, i am just stating the obvious.

    • Scipio Africanus

      Teedra Moses is light bright with long hair, though. She was just the victim of a bad political situation with her label, that’s all. And Jill Scott has had probably as much success as anyone in the Neo-Soul lane could ever hope for (even more than Erykah, who’s more talented than Jill is.)

      The real reason Alicia has had the career she has is because she *does* have a critical mass of talent, plus the huge push Clive Davis put behind her when she came out (that’s what distinbguishes her from someone like Olivia, who was also on J Records and came out at about the same time.)
      R&B’s list of PYT’s whose careers never amounted to more than some street-teaming, random posters on your local utility poles, and one single is very, very, very long.

  • ShonQuayshah

    Scipio …you need glasses…and yes she did have the money behind her, but they put it behind her because they knew they would get a return because of her looks! did you not see dreamgirls? no one can see a person on a record, but we are in the video age now! why do you think beyonce twerks it so hard? because she has nappy hair….please!

    • blackink12

      I don’t think it’s as obvious as you think it is.

      Here’s a list of pretty R&B songstresses with talent whose careers never really took off, just to name a few: Tamia. Amerie. Deborah Cox. Amel Larrieux. Chante Moore.

      I woulda said Mya to make G.D. happy but I couldn’t do it.

      If it was all about being light and long-haired, Cassie would have made it.

      • Scipio Africanus

        Zackly. Of all the light-bright singers of the last 15 years, Cassie might be the single most stunningly beautiful, but she can’t sing, and everyone knows it, and the beats Puffy gives her don’t do it. At least with Ashanti, we knew she couldn’t sing *that well*, but her stuff had a basic Pop R&B enjoyability to it. All you can do with Cassie is spend hours staring at the pictures that accompany her Youtube clips. Not that I done that. Anymore.

    • Ron

      Well, the comments on this post sure delivered. I have a love/hate relationship with her music. Her earlier stuff was hit or miss and now, I’ve just tuned her out completely.

  • Hicks

    Alicia Keys is certainly serviceable. I’ll cop to singing along. I just never got over how one year Alicia won 7 Grammys and India.Arie won, was it none? Last time I really watched the Grammys.

    In my opinion, and not to take away from AK, but India.Arie’s songwriting (“Brown Skin” “Always In My Head”), clear voice (AK tends to be kinda foggy) and musicianship (I favor black folks with guitar) just have my heart.

  • April

    OK, I’m really late, but I must say: this is TOO funny!

  • Opal C

    Sorry this is so late – just discovered this blog – but I have to agree with the author. I also have to say that I am probably the only one on earth that DOES NOT LIKE “No One.” She sings it like she’s written some kind of anthem, and I CAN’T STAND IT!!

  • CB Janson

    It’s hard to believe how Ms. Keys has gotten so far on so little talent! The woman is a total fake–a singer who cannot sing even the most basic riffs. There’s no hiding it when she sings live (without the benefits of the recording studio). Back in the day, Clive Davis invested a ton of $ to market her first album. I can’t believe how Ms. Keys continues to be such a lucky **bleep.** Today, Sept. 2012, she’s on the cover of the New York Times magazine section. Yes. She fooled them too. It makes me crazy when there are really talented artists out there who don’t get a break.