Alicia Keys has been an all-time favourite artist of mine since I was a young-un, and I’ve loved following her progress alongside my own musical endeavours. Her songs are heartfelt, raw and passionate, with this natural feel drawing both from her craftsmanship as a songwriter and a pianist. Hence, her latest release ‘Blended Family’ brought me great excitement, in anticipation for her new album being released November 4th!
‘Blended Family’ is stripped back, but unlike most of Alicia’s songs in this style, she chose not to draw her piano playing into the spotlight. Rather, a simple guitar line forms the harmony, with the piano glimmering tenderly in the background. With the drum beat kicking in, I feared that the piece was going to run away from its promising beginning of a gentle heartfelt ballad, but the song remains just as beautiful, with Alicia’s wonderful cascading melody and backing vocals.
Alicia directs the song at her step-son Kasseem Dean, and reveals through her lyrics her love for a child that isn’t hers. Years after her now-husband Swizz Beats left Kasseem’s mother Mashonda Tifrere, Alicia preaches in ‘Blended Family’ the importance of love, even when tensions and angst probably still exist between the pair of mothers. They are clearly in an awkward position that so many families often are, with divorce rates still skyrocketing and step-children being common amongst growing families. But Keys, perhaps for the first time in popular music, has released a song for all those who might be confused or torn about how to handle such situations, and it is stunning.
A$AP Rocky raps the third verse about his own history with step-parents, and the conflicting emotions that come with love and heartbreak. From a musical point of view, his rap is nothing out of this world, but the conjoined messages of Alicia and the rapper creates a powerful and, frankly, extraordinary message.
As a piece of music, Alicia’s done better. But as a role model and inspiration to so many, ‘Blended Family’ is brilliant. I’m unaware of any song with a similar message, so to have such a catchy tune, with Alicia’s stunning vocal performance, I can only wish that ‘Blended Family’ takes the charts by storm, because I think there are so many parents and children affected by divorces that could be inspired so greatly by this song.
Alicia Keys has and will always be a musical inspiration of mine. But, with her position in the music industry providing her with an opportunity to inspire and influence the general public, Alicia has made the most of such an opportunity as of late, including her challenging of the beauty standards placed on female celebrities. Through her music career, she is causing change for the better; and that is why I believe Alicia Keys is so inspiring. I honestly cannot wait until the release of her latest album ‘HERE’ on November 4th.
A huge thank you to the ongoing support of the Radio Monash editing team! This article was originally published on Radio Monash's website at radiomonash.net.
Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.