Rusty's waltz wednesday presents: Fallin', by Alicia Keys
I took a pedagogical week off waltz wednesday, and feel more refreshed than ever.
Now, I think most readers would agree that this isn't just a space for me to nerd out on old-time waltzes. Yes, I have posted a few, but I've purposely tried to profile songs that are within our collective pop culture consciousness.
I didn't really have a mission statement when I started posting songs for waltz wednesday, but as I keep wracking my brain and music library for waltz-form songs, I think I've developed my idea. Maybe one week I'll write a formal mission statement, but until then, know that I'm interested in showing the versatility of the waltz as a song form, with a special emphasis on popular music.
Also know that all the songs here are chosen organically - I've made it a habit of whenever I listen to music on a portable device, home computer, TV, or radio, or even when I listen to music without providing consent - restaurants, cafés, bars, or kids who inexplicably use their phones as boomboxes instead of using earphones - to immediately identify whether it's in waltz form, and note it down if it's interesting to me. I do not go through online lists of waltzes, and I would ask anyone recommending a waltz to use the same process!
Alright without further ado, waltz wednesday's song:
This song was Alicia Keys' break-out hit: I remember pretending to not like it in high school, but really, who was I kidding. She wrote and produced it, putting her skills on display as a fine musical artist. I never knew it, but it makes sense that she graduated valedictorian at New York city's Professional Performing Arts School; it even looks like she skipped a grade or two since she graduated at age 16.
IDK if you guys remember, but this song was the shit. It was released in April of 2001, and stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 34 weeks, peaking at #1. Somehow it placed second behind Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment" for the year-end top-100 chart. I mean I'm trying to make this blog a safe space for all music tastes, but is "Hanging by a Moment" ever bad. In any case, it's trivial, since everbody remembers Fallin', and nobody remembers that other song.
The song alternates between two chords - if it's good enough for Miles Davis, it's good enough for Alicia Keys. There are some nice vocals to listen to, like her voice modulation at about a minute in, or the way she plays with rhythm at the end of the second verse. As the song progresses, more and more layers of sound are added on - harmonies, Alicia's vocal improvisations on the melody, strings, more cymbals on the drums, etc.
This is the first song in the hip-hop sphere of things. Don't think I haven't been trying to find more, but I just can't. Frankly, the entire genre's unwavering loyalty to the 4/4-multiple time is disappointing, and smacks of a lack of creativity or willingness to take risks.
On that note, I'm going to embed the original song first, followed by a remix that they completely changed to 4/4. It's a good study in what a waltz is/isn't, if it - understandably - isn't entirely clear.
The genuine article:
And now in 4/4 because, for some reason, Busta Rhymes couldn't figure out how to rap in a 3-multiple time signature..? Weak.
...and for good measure, Sarah's favorite Alicia Keys' video, featuring the rapper Mos Def:
...and my all-time favorite Alicia Keys song, featuring Lucas from one-tree-hill, and an actress from the Wire? Seriously this is one of my favorite songs of all time: