Alicia Keys “The Element of Freedom” tops charts

Twelve-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys’ latest opus The Element of Freedom (MBK/J Records) debuts at #1 on Billboard’s R&B Albums and Digital Albums charts and #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart, according to Nielsen/SoundScan. With a total of 417,277 units sold in a week, this marks the biggest first week sales debut for a female R&B singer this year and Keys’ 5th straight chart-topping debut (Keys’ previous four albums debuted at #1 on the aforementioned charts).

With radio stations playing five songs simultaneously from The Element of Freedom (“Doesn’t Mean Anything,” “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart,” “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down,” “Un-thinkable,” with background vocals provided by Drake, and “Put It In A Love Song” featuring Beyoncé) and critics such as Entertainment Weekly citing “Keys latest hits all the right notes” there’s no wonder why fans flocked to purchase Keys fifth release.

Keys was nothing shy of visible in the US leading into the December 15 release with a marketing campaign consisting of several major highlights, including TV appearances on Dancing With The Stars, The American Music Awards, Oprah, two visits on both The Today Show and Late Show with David Letterman, Regis & Kelly, Christmas at Rockefeller, The View, BET 106 & Keys Live Special, The Colbert Report and Fuse’s special television broadcast of Keys’ World AIDS Day Concert. The online community was also saturated with an array of Alicia Keys promotions including the first ever album preview on Facebook, Clear Channel’s Stripped/iheartradio performance and YouTube’s worldwide broadcast of her World AIDS Day concert.

Named one of Billboard’s Artists of the Decade, Keys is never one to rest on her laurels as we move into the new year. Keys will launch 2010 in high gear with a performance on Saturday Night Live on January 9 followed by an AOL Music Sessions premiere on January 14. On March 3, Keys embarks on the U.S. portion of “The Freedom Tour” at Chicago’s Allstate Arena. The European leg of the tour will commence late April 2010.

Alicia Keys “The Element of Freedom” review

Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom

Artist: Alicia Keys
Title: The Element of Freedom
Label: J-Records
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
12 time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys returns with her 4th studio album The Element Of Freedom on December 15. Alicia has sold over 26 million albums worldwide and over 6.7 million digital tracks in the US. Featuring the hits “Doesn’t Mean Anything” and “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart”, The Element Of Freedom promises to be one of Alicia Keys biggest releases to date.

Song reviews:
“Love Is Blind” – Keys goes for an epic that sounds like a riff off Kanye West’s “808s and Heartbreaks” without the baggage.

“Doesn’t Mean Anything” – There is something whiny in Keys’ voice that leaves the verses flat and the chorus is too monotnonous to enjoy.

“Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” – Keys taps her inner Prince and really nails it. Its interesting when the verses seem to outshine the chorus.

“Wait Til You See My Smile” – Pretty, but not really much here to write about. It’s simply average for an artist like Keys.

“That’s How Strong My Love Is” – Keys again seems to be just getting by trying to let her talent push average songs to something better than they are–but it doesn’t work. No matter the talent level, average is average.

“Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” – Ditto the previous two songs.

“Love Is My Disease” – Keys gets raw and emotional like she fails to do on most of the album. It’s easy to tell when she feels it and when she doesn’t. This is the soul that Keys should be bringing each and every moment.

“Like the Sea” – Just skip this. It’s filler of the most boring kind. Keys is just phoning it in. It’s sad.

“Put It in a Love Song” featuring Beyoncé – Even if you can put up with the pathetic opening line “Hey, yo B. What up A?”–you’ll find Beyonce stealing the thunder from Keys. Beyonce saves the day on what turns out to be an unbelievably cheesy track with the depth of a Hannah Montana episode.

“This Bed” – Hard to tell what Keys was going for on this track. No matter what the aim, it missed the target but a mile.

“Distance and Time” – Skip it.

“How It Feels to Fly” – Another bummer.

“Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” f/Jay-Z – Thank God for Jay-Z who comes along to save you from an Alicia Keys coma. If you need to download just one song from the album this would be it. The bad news is that its Jay-Z not Keys that is worth the listen.

Frankly:
Alicia Keys seems lost. “The Element of Freedom” sounds like everything but freedom. It sounds like Keys is trapped in an attempt at turning out a hit and has lost everything that made her great. “The Element of Freedom” is missing a soul and the theme doesn’t seem to be alive from one track to another. The lack of cohesion hurts and frankly, this is average at best. Keys is too good for this type of album. Maybe next time.

Alicia Keys to stream “The Element of Freedom” on Facebook

Alicia Keys "The Element of Freedom:Alicia Keys’ upcoming album, “The Element of Freedom,” exclusively to the artist’s fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/aliciakeys). RCA Music has partnered with Involver, the leading social media technology firm, to allow Keys’ 1.2 million Facebook fans to stream the tracks from her new album directly from her Facebook Page. Visitors can listen to tracks for free and place pre-orders in advance of the December 15th release of “The Element of Freedom.”

“Alicia’s incredible reach and passionate fan base inspired us to take an innovative approach and become the first music label to launch her album exclusively on the world’s largest social media platform,” said Tom Corson, EVP/General Manager, RCA Music Group. “After learning about Involver’s powerful social media marketing capabilities and successes with brands such as US Weekly and Puma we knew we’d found the right partner to make this creative online launch a reality.”

The Facebook debut of “The Element of Freedom” marks the fifth album release from the soulful 12-time Grammy Award winner. The album was executive produced by Alicia Keys, Jeff Robinson, Peter Edge and Kerry “Krucial” Brothers and includes the singles “Doesn’t Mean Anything,” “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart,” “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down,” as well as a beat-driven duet with Beyoncé called “Put It In A Love Song.”

Keys’ exclusive release on her Facebook Page is an industry first and enabled by Involver’s uniquely powerful social media application platform already used by over 20,000 companies. Founded by noted 27-year-old entrepreneurs Rahim Fazal and Noah Horton in 2007, Involver’s platform builds, publishes, monitors and measures applications used by brands looking to create comprehensive social media user experiences, complete with the type of rich content that drives usage and visits. Continually working to increase its active audience engagement with over 50 million consumers on Facebook, Involver has delivered significant Facebook Fan Page traffic alongside sponsorship and ecommerce revenue streams.

Alicia Key to release “The Element of Freedom” in December

Alicia Keys "The Element of Freedom:Fresh off the American Music Awards with two unforgettable performances of “Empire State of Mind” with Jay-Z and her new single “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” 12-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys goes into high gear with a whirlwind of activities in support of her fifth album The Element of Freedom out December 15 on MBK Entertainment/J Records.

In addition to “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart” and “Doesn’t Mean Anything,” The Element of Freedom features Keys soulfully soaring solo version of “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down,” a beat-driven duet with Beyoncé on “Put It In A Love Song,” “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” with background vocals provided by Drake, the reggae-tinged “Love is My Disease,” a 80’s funk jam “This Bed” and more sonic gems. The album features production by Alicia Keys, her longtime collaborator Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Jeff Bhasker, Swizz Beatz, and Noah “40” Shebib. Complete track listing below.

Keys recently made her national TV debut performance of “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” on Dancing With The Stars and recreated that magic Sunday night on the 2009 American Music Awards. Up next are performances on The Today Show Outdoor Concert Series (11/24) and Oprah (11/30) where she joins country music superstar Tim McGraw for a duet performance of John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” for the holiday show. She’ll continue to spread holiday cheer on NBC’s Christmas at Rockefeller (12/2), followed by performances on Late Show with David Letterman (12/14), The Colbert Report (12/15), The View (12/16), BET 106 & Keys Live Special (12/16) and a return visit to The Today Show (12/17).

The Element of Freedom track listing:

01 Element Of Freedom (Intro)
02 Love Is Blind
03 Doesn’t Mean Anything
04 Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart
05 Wait Til You See My Smile
06 That’s How Strong My Love Is
07 Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)
08 Love Is My Disease
09 Like The Sea
10 Put It In A Love Song (featuring Beyoncé)
11 This Bed
12 Distance And Time
13 How It Feels To Fly
14 Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

Alicia Keys to release “The Element of Freedom” in December

This year wouldn’t mean anything without a brand new album from Alicia Keys and on December 1, the 12-time Grammy Award winner will release THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM, her 4th studio album on MBK/J Records. Keys’ first single, “Doesn’t Mean Anything,” was written and produced by Alicia and her longtime production partner Kerry “Krucial” Brothers. The moment the single impacted radio on September 21st, critics declared it an instant hit: “Alicia Keys Is Back” proclaimed NYPost.com’s Pop Wrap column. “It’s so perfect, it’s so brilliant and it’s so unmistakably Alicia.”

While Keys’ collaboration on Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” and “Doesn’t Mean Anything” continue to climb the charts, Keys will make her television debut performance of the single on Regis & Kelly on October 12th. The P.R. Brown-directed video will premiere exclusively on PerezHilton.com on October 16th and will be available everywhere on October 17th including Myspace, Yahoo Music, AOL Music, YouTube and MSN Music.

Alicia describes THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM as a dichotomy of strength and vulnerability: “The music is really strong, and the drums are really aggressive, but my voice is vulnerable and delicate,” states Keys. THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM encapsulates Keys’ process of “eliminating all of the boundaries and all the limitations, so that you can feel your freedom and express your freedom in every way you possibly can and that’s what I did with this album,” adds Alicia.

In addition to Brothers, the 12-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/producer enlists the production talents of Jeff Brasker (Kanye West, Keri Wilson) with more production pairings to be announced soon.

THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM is the follow up to Keys’ multi-platinum selling 2007 album As I Am, which featured the Grammy Award winning tune “No One” as well as hit singles “Like You’ll Never See Me Again,” Teenage Love Affair” and “Superwoman.”