By 2012, 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys began seeing her once hot sales streak cool.
The ‘Girl On Fire’ – whose first three albums consecutively topped the Billboard 200 and her fourth, ‘The Element of Freedom,’ delivered fair numbers in comparison – was no longer burning up the charts in means fans had become accustomed to. In fact, some 12 years after her commercially and critically acclaimed debut ‘Songs in A Minor’ (2000), the ivory tickling diva didn’t exactly find much to laugh about when her fifth album, ‘Fire,’ crashed and burned after making a #1 debut to the first week sum of 159,000 – almost a third of what ‘Freedom’s first week declared just three years prior
Taking a period to cool off to focus on philanthropy and family (see: giving birth to her second child in late 2014), the singer/songwriter continued to tease new music throughout the downtime – even promising fans something they “wouldn’t expect.”
That promise was finally manifested in May 2016 thanks to ‘In Common’…
‘Common’ – a Soca/Dancehall-tinged tune – came as quite the sonic departure for the piano playing performer given her track record for kicking off projects with numbers of slower tempo. And, if the initial critical reception was anything to go by, the risk not only paid off, but Keys was quickly on the comeback trail to prominence. Instrumentally, the bass-buoyed bop got a “thumbs up” for being a standout from Keys’ catalog as well as the sound dominating today’s radio. Elsewhere, ‘Common’s vocal arrangement also earned a nod from listeners who’d grown weary of the Grammy winner’s tendency to strain or yell through recorded and live performances.
Yet, while an overwhelming number seemed to have positive reviews “in common” in response to Keys’ crack at a comeback, to date the tune hasn’t exactly been able to mirror that reception commercially. Getting its official live TV launch via ‘SNL,’ ‘Common’ has since been performed to a world stage on the year’s UEFA Champions League Final and taken to the 2016 BET Awards in an unconventional showing that saw the singer play several instruments at once while singing the song. Despite the multi-tasking maestra’s moving live attempts to hoist the song up the Hot 100, apparently viewers were none-to-impressed. For, as of time reporting, it has peaked at the top of the bottom (see: Bubbling Under Charts).
To ‘Common’s credit, her team has only afforded it a “soft launch,” meaning it has not been made widely available to every applicable radio format. An understandable move given the amount of dollars pumped into the star’s last project, ‘Fire,’ which undoubtedly did not yield the anticipated return. To play it safe, her label home has shipped the song solely to rhythmic and R&B radio and, as peruse of related charts reveals, its performance on Billboard’s R&B charts to date clearly indicates a strong level of interest. However, its iTunes and streaming figures – especially for an artist of Alicia’s magnitude – are singing a different tune.
Simply put: where is ‘In Common’ incorrect? Have Keys and co. been choosing the wrong outlets and arenas to promote the song or is it simply a big misstep by itself? In other words…