Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Fallin - Alicia Keys + early mission statement

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, caf├ęs, 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:

Alicia Keys:

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.

The song:

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:


  1. thanks rusty!!! learning a lot about music thru ur blog. really enjoyed sarah's favorite Alicia Keys video too. also your favorite Alicia Keys song cause i never saw the video! very good video (and very good song)