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Alicia Keys: Girl On Fire (Bassists: Bruno Mars, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Steve Mostyn, James “Malay” Ho)

Alicia-150RICK’S PICKS: Alicia Keys: Girl On Fire ( RCA Records ) / Bassists: Bruno Mars, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Steve Mostyn, James “Malay” Ho

2.0 stars

The Album: Girl on “low flame” might be more accurate, as Alicia mostly misses the mark on her fifth studio album. Girl On Fire suffers from lazy writing and frequent overproduction, and even Nicki Minaj can”t save the title track which is a mess. The song “Limitedless” is a new low, with lines like “If he be Jack / Then I guess me be Jill / Fell into his arms / Got me head over the hills”. Hell, its title isn’t even a word. Still, there are some standout tunes, such as “Tears Always Win”, where co-writer Bruno Mars leaves his easily-identifiable stamp, the poignant ballad “Not Even The King”, and the Babyface contribution “That’s When I Knew”.

At her best, Alicia keeps her vocal limitations in check and makes keen observations of both herself and the world around her; at her worst she falls into lyrical cliches and borrows from other songs a bit too liberally. If albums like The Diary Of Alicia Keys and MTV Unplugged represent high points in her career, Girl On Fire clearly does not. But Alica Keys on a bad day is still better than most, so go at your own risk on this one. By the way, stick around for 10 seconds after the last track “101” ends, because there’s a little hidden coda (uncredited) with a cool “hallelujah” chorus that’s an album highlight.

The Bassists: Bruno Mars, Babyface, Steve Mostyn and James “Malay” Ho all contribute, all on the second half of the album.  They play it simple and lay it down nicely on their respective tracks. The album’s first half is mostly synthy, sampled bass, and though it’s occasionally clunky, tunes like  “Listen To Your Heart” and “New Day” are groove-perfect.

Best Tracks: “New Day”, “Tears Always Win”, “That’s When I Knew”

Alicia Keys: Girl On Fire is available at



  1. Stefaun Crichton

    December 28, 2012 at 5:20 am

    To the person who wrote saying that Alicia Keys fifth album is not good: Music is about listening to someone’s feelings expressed in singing , and music. Not about how perfect you think every recording detail should be. Would you go back through out the 50’s, 60’s, so on, and want to rerecord every song to your so called standards??? I would never touch a single one of them, as their simplicity is just perfect. Back then, it was difficult to record a concert live. Now, the recording process is so complicated that a song that has been recorded in a studio can not be played live with any closness to the album.
    Remember, music is something done totally for fun. I have played for 48 years, and have not lost the fun factor in it , as I do something every day with my instruments, and equipment.
    The ‘ Girl on Fire” song is great!!!!

  2. Rick Suchow

    Rick Suchow

    December 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks for the comment. I appreciate you taking the time to write, and I respect your opinion.

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