Review: Alicia Keys – Underdog


Bold as ever, Alicia Keys updates her sound and empowers the underdogs of the world.

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As the third single for Alicia Keys’ upcoming album ALICIA (arriving March 20th), Underdog finds itself as a single about empowerment, love and finding a voice.

With a stripped backed acoustic sound, Alicia Keys finds a subtle breach between vocal harmony and accompaniment; guiding melody through the beginning ‘oohs’ and a simple yet catchy guitar riff. When the first verse begins, she begins to carve a narrative, bringing attention to all the hidden stories in the world that we often fail to notice. From the story of the homeless man, or the taxi driver’s wife and kids; Alicia imbues her lyrics with an organic busyness that seems to celebrate life while bringing those we often forget into the limelight. This becomes a source of reflection in Keys as the pre-chorus celebrates her rising to the top when nobody expected she would. Then, by the time you get to the chorus, Alicia finally celebrates the Underdogs of the world, the ‘young teachers, student doctors’ or the ‘single mothers waiting for a check to come’, launching into a symphony of celebration about how they ‘will rise up’. It’s a song that seems designed to unite all the people who listen to it and throws a nice moment of allowing for reflection in its listener.

Yet, it’s not just a song that has great lyrics, but a song with an undeniable catchiness. While on the simple side, it allows for Alicia to frame her voice as the centre focus, using the lyrical stresses as another source of a beat. Behind the song is a continued riff of the guitar which becomes a nice contrast to the punchy piano that Keys usually favours. It updates her distinct sound while she brings in elements of gospel and strings that are more recognisable after her 2016 album HERE. While still rooted in R&B, its more “pop-like” sound gives a broader audience appeal and a feeling that its a song the underdogs could begin to jam along with.

Alicia Keys’ ‘Underdog’ is available via RCA Records.


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Previous News Editor (20-21), previous Editor-In-Chief (21-22), and now the Deputy Editor & Culture PR duo extravaganze, I'm just someone trying to make their way through the world of journalism... (trying being the keyword here).

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