Alicia Keys – “In Common” (Singles Going Steady)

"In Common" adds up to an exciting, intriguing comeback single for Alicia Keys.

Colin McGuire: Ah, so we see Alicia Keys has moved into the world-music stage of her career. OK, OK. That’s a cheap shot. But at the risk of sounding even more glib, it kind of feels like Mrs. Swizz Beatz has been through some shit (just check her demeanor from her recent Saturday Night Live performances to see what that means). The result, “In Common”, is notably honest, warts and all, with a refrain that quietly asserts, “If you could love somebody like me, you must be messed up, too.” Even better is the African rhythm that holds the whole thing down; it’s a mild surprise that she wears it as well as she does, considering how little the “keys” portion of her name is represented here. But then again, she’s hinted at this direction in the past, most notably on the 2009 Beyonce collaboration “Put It in a Love Song”. Here, though, the Caribbean, subdued vibes appear more worn and the sexy atmosphere reaches a sweaty height that most of us probably never even thought she could previously reach. It all adds up to an exciting, intriguing comeback single. We already knew she was no minor anymore, but this, without question, announces her as a brand new woman. [7/10]

Pryor Stroud: With a string of hits reaching back to 2001’s candlelight anthem “Fallin'”, Alicia Keys has already cemented her place in the pop-R&B pantheon. Her reputation is nearly unassailable. Next to her contemporary peers, such as Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and Ashanti, it makes sense why Keys stood out so starkly, and why she continues to stand out today: her sound is equal parts breathy realism and unadorned soul-torment, her voice, growing from a miked-up whisper-rasp into a towering wall of near-weeping, is a tool of vicious conviction, and the piano ballad format she favors has lent her tracks an honesty often missing in the overproduced genre of mainstream R&B. “In Common” doesn’t tarnish this legacy; it continues it. Littered with broken piano chords, subdued percussion, and a swaying melody that wouldn’t be out of place in Rihanna’s discography, the track capitalizes on Keys’ striking vocal talent, painting a scene of romantic friction between two lovers painfully aware of their own faults. [8/10]

Emmanuel Elone: “In Common” is a delightful bit of dance-pop, but not much more. The electronic beat is pulsing and Alicia Keys’ voice is light but upfront. Still, Keys’ performance on this sounds uncannily like Rihanna’s, and “In Common” feels like a song that Rihanna could have created and sung note for note. Moreover, the lyrics and topical content is anything but original. Having said all that, the production is top-notch and Alicia Keys successfully blends electro dance grooves with R&B sensibilities, so I can’t complain too much. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: The electronic dance genre seems like quite a stretch for someone like Keys, whose bread and butter has largely been traditional (yet sophisticated) R&B. But the genre suits her well. Her voice still sounds terrific, and the beats and sounds are fresh and clear. It’s also a well-written — if not particularly groundbreaking — song, and one that deserves a wide audience. [7/10]

Chad Miller: Seems to take advantage of a lot of growing trends in pop right now. Justin Bieber’s latest hits came to mind in particular. Anyways, Keys does a decent job here. The start of the chorus is really catchy, though I wish it didn’t immediately back off after the short build up. This seems pretty representative of the whole song too as there doesn’t really seem to be a sense of progression going on. [6/10]

SCORE: 6.80