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Alicia Keys, the queen of the ivories, isn’t just an RB chart-topper, she’s a pop music maverick. With her irresistible blend of hip-hop-inflected grooves, classical piano chops, and lyrics that ring true: she’s got a song for every mood, from the soulful sass of “Girl on Fire” to the palpable heartache in “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart”.

With Keys, we can always expect a journey. An exploration of love’s highs and lows on tracks like “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” or “No One”. She gives us epic city symphonies with “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down”, encourages us with the anthem “Underdog”, and takes creative risks with pieces like “It’s On Again” with Kendrick Lamar. Having said that, one thing’s for sure: Alicia Keys can belt out a tune that leaves you feeling some type of way.

So let’s get into it. From emotional ballads to empowering anthems, here are the Top 10 Alicia Keys Songs Ranked, from Worst to Best.

10. Like You’ll Never See Me Again

With her soulful voice, Keys invites us into an intimate rumination on the fleeting nature of life and love. The song’s lyrics grapple with the weight of transience, impressing upon listeners the importance of cherishing each touch, each kiss, each moment of shared intimacy. They underscore the preciousness of “now”, reminding us that the “present is a gift.” As the song progresses, Keys evolves from a gentle request into a fervent demand— for a love that is all-consuming, a love lived like there is no tomorrow, a love like you’ll never see her again.

9. Underdog

The tune channels the raw power and soulful essence that Keys is renowned for, whilst managing to stir up an anthemic, foot-tapping rhythm. The song’s lyrics delve into the gripping narratives of various underdogs – a homeless man, a woman riding in a taxi, struggling single mothers, and young professionals fighting against the odds. Using these narratives, Keys orchestrates an inspiring war-cry for resilience, persistence, and the sheer act of rising above adversity. The chorus, a rallying tribute to ‘the hustlers trading at the bus stop, single mothers waiting on a check to come, young teachers, student doctors, sons on the frontline,’ is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the underdog in society.

8. Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart

Dare I say, it echoes a symphony of pain and longing, deeply ingrained in the heartache of loss. Driven by sparse yet powerful chords, more somber than her usual, Keys delves into the cruel intimacy of bed space shared with a memory. The lyrics inhabit a space of raw vulnerability, as they unfold the emotional turmoil of holding onto love, even when it’s slipping away. You can sense her wrestling, balancing between refusing to let go and embracing an impending reality of a life without her significant other. A refined tune from Keys that’s as haunting as it’s moving, delivering a dose of reality that resonates with anyone who has tried to sleep with a broken heart.

7. You Don’t Know My Name

An amalgamation of soulful R&B beats with love-struck lyrics, the track follows the emotional highs and lows of an infatuation that’s both unrequited and unknown. Keys’ waitress falls head-over-heels for her regular customer but struggles with the fact he doesn’t even know her name. As the track progresses, listeners are enthralled by the story’s bold confession of feeling “all crazy inside.” With each verse, you can almost taste the sweetness of the hot chocolate that Keys describes serving him, feel the tension of the unspoken affection between them. It’s a vivid and heartfelt portrayal of love from afar that continues the tradition of great pop storytelling, packaging the angst of unreciprocated feelings with Keys’ powerful vocals and soul-stirring melodies.

6. Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)

The lyrics dance between vulnerability and fear, painting a tableau of a dramatic love-in-waiting, steeped in uncertainty and desire. Alicia calls to her unrequited love, offering herself completely despite the potential social backlash. Drake’s verse adds depth to the narrative, revealing his emotional struggle with commitment and societal expectations. This tune sets a deep exploration into the profound human longing for love and acceptance. It’s a daring confession letter, an audacious proposal, a plea for reciprocation. All this wrapped in Keys’ soulful harmonies and Drake’s introspective rhymes, making “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready) – Remix” a captivating ode to love in its rawest form.

5. Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

It captures the essence of the city and is a testament to the relentless spirit of hustle, ambition, and dreams that New York symbolizes. Portraying the city as a ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of’, Keys paints a vivid landscape of Manhattan’s character – a place where hard work pays off, dreams come to fruition, and the streets serve as a constant source of inspiration. She narrates stories of ambition and struggle through her lyrics, disclosing the harsh realities of city life, while simultaneously highlighting the romanticism and allure of it all, positioning NYC as an ultimately transformative and life-affirming locale.

4. No One

The song expresses a steadfast commitment to a love that remains unshakeable regardless of the stormy weathers of life and the clamor of naysayers. Deftly intertwining the universal experiences of love, doubt, and resilience, Keys’ familiarity with life’s complexities bleeds through in her lyrics, making them relatable. At its core, the track is an anthem of self-assurance and belief in the power of love. By stating that nothing can obstruct her feelings, Alicia Keys asserts the invincibility of love against all external forces. This defiance is not just about romantic love, but also her dedication to her craft amid criticisms and the invasiveness of public life. The song has since become synonymous with her identity as an artist, leaving a lasting impression on pop culture.

3. Fallin’

This delectable serving of old-school soul puts Alicia’s talent for deeply expressive, heart-tugging storytelling on full display. The song captures the tumultuous ebb and flow of being caught up in a love that’s equal parts pain and pleasure. We see the struggle in the lyrics, reflecting the push and pull of someone so deeply in love yet so profoundly conflicted. It’s a plunge into raw emotion, the confusion of feelings that follow the highs and lows of intense passion. ‘Fallin” reveals the intricate dance of love and the spectrum of feelings it can evoke, and Alicia Keys navigates through them with a flair that resonates deeply with listeners.

2. Girl on Fire

The lyrics revolve around a metaphorical girl, unstoppable and radiant, as if ignited by an internal flame. This flame, a symbolic representation of her spirit and conviction, showcases her power to the world. Despite the world’s hardships, symbolized by the fiery terrain she walks on, the girl remains undefeated, firmly grounded, yet heading towards the skies, embodying both intense resolve and unshakeable faith. Through this vivid imagery, Keys pays tribute to women everywhere who, despite adversities, carry their own torch and blaze their own path. Thus, “Girl on Fire” is a rallying cry encapsulating the strength, determination, and immense potential inherent in every woman.

1. If I Ain’t Got You

With this song, Keys earnestly taps into universal human desires, only to profess them as inconsequential without the grounding element of love. Imbued with significant resonance, the lyrics serve as a yearning plea for authentic connection over superficial attractions. Stripped down to a piano-led melody, Keys employs the restrain in the music as an effective contrast to the grand declaration. To summarize, “If I Ain’t Got You” is a heartfelt ballad that triumphs the essence of love, expressed through Keys’ lyricism that confronts worldly desires and underlines the poignant truth – Nothing truly means anything without genuine love.