PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

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

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.