In the period following 2012’s smash single Girl On Fire and the album of the same name, Alicia Keys has been sporadically releasing new tracks. The politically-charged We Are Here was released back in 2014, and 28 Thousand Days saw its release in the following year; both were R&B themed tracks, nothing entirely inventive or remarkable. Rather than recycling the R&B style, however, her latest single, In Common, ends up taking a hard left turn.
Rather than following on from the R&B style Keys had been treating us to, In Common goes for a danceable sound. Despite featuring an overall simple arrangement, the song incorporates tropical, dancehall and Afrobeat influences, giving it a distinct sound. The song is much more direct than the previous singles, wasting no time in getting into its groove and quickly dragging listeners in. Despite its deceptively simple chorus, the song’s story of a dysfunctional relationship fits well with the icy beat; despite how friendly the song sounds for radio or even just for dancing, there’s an obvious edge to it that makes it even more interesting.
Following on from some rather mediocre singles, In Common is exactly the kind of thing Alicia Keys needed to put out before the release of her next album. It’s simple yet infectious, incorporating a variety of different elements while still feeling like it would be perfectly at home on the radio internationally and offering something friendly with a refreshing edge to it. If this is the direction of her upcoming album, things look much more promising than they did a year ago.