Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Album Review: Alicia Keys "The Element of Freedom"



Today at 12:01am I went to iTunes and purchased the new Alicia Keys album. I have enjoyed her previous three albums but I was unsure about this one because the first two singles have not been what I expected. Lucky for Alicia Keys I gave her another chance and I just finished listening to the album and I completely understand her genius. Every song is carefully crafted and perfectly executed in order to get her point across. To some the album can be heard as a mid-tempo vibe, but I felt it as something deeper, and I loved it. Alicia Keys rarely has special guests on her albums but this one had two very large names: Beyonce and Drake and I was highly skeptical about these songs, but they were both amazing in their own right. Ultimately, this album is not about the glitz and the glamour that some artists exhibit, instead Alicia Keys asks you to ask for patience, look for love, and find hapiness. My favorite tracks on the album is her duet with Drake "Unthinkable" and "Love Is My Disease". Below I made you quick snippets of the deluxe version of the album. Enjoy!


90 comments:

  1. I am sold! I am going to buy it tomorrow! Thanks for the video it made is so much easier to hear them here than on itunes or youtube. Great review too.

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  2. It is a bit slow for me but I bet once I listen to the whole album I'll LOVE it like the rest of the work. Thanks for the quick review!

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  3. I did not think I was going to like it but I do! Thanks a lot!!! :)

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  4. Her best album ever!! I'll buy it. Thank you!!

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  5. rarely we get to hear pure talent and all tracks are just perfect. Alicia Keys has done it again!

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  6. I am so excited to buy this album I cannot wait!!! I loved her first two singles but the rest of the album sounds amazing from what your video showed me. Thanks in advance.

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  7. I had not heard her empire state of mind part 2 and it sounds amazing thanks.

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  8. i will forever be a fan of her album thanks!!

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  9. I love this song's groove for sure. I think this album is more of a tribute to 80's music, you can totally feel it. =)

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  10. she always has one or two songs that have that prince feel to it. i really like her energy and the change somewhat in direction on this album. seems like she pushed away from the writing and the piano and just sang some songs this time around on the around. very free and open.

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  11. DAMN...They killed it...I LOVE the Beyonce' song...This is seriously hot...It's about time they did a song 2gether & so glad its an up-tempo song & not a ballad...OMG I'm lovin this!!!!

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  12. The song 'thats how strong my love is' OMG! *tears* i love it... BEAUTIFUL!!!! explains EVERYTHING that i feel about my boyfriend... =)

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  13. ooh i way prefer this album . . its such a change and so muc better than her first!! she look gorgeous too, and sounds gorgeous ! =] x

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  14. I LOVE IT thanks Art

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  15. i so feel her, this is that kind of album where the love here all you want is that person... it's like you don't care what they got on, how they live, what friends think of that person, and so on. I so get it alicia, that's how my love is too... i swear i'm gonna cry lol-too bad i don't have no one to show that love

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  16. I've never been a huge fan of A.Keys (her ass is dope though)... BUT THIS NEW CD is bananas!!! OMG!

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  17. I love it where you can hear drake a lil bit, echoing in the background sometimes hotness! he is so sexy and the album FIRE!

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  18. I LOVE YOU ALICIA!!! You make me feel better about life. Keep being you!

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  19. Thanks for the post it was good to hear snippets. I think I will be purchasing the album soon. :)

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  20. It sounds sooooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooodddd!!! I love the drake callabo toooo!

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  21. I am in awe of this woman her raw talent and emotions are so great. My favorite song has to be her duet with Beyonce...it is surely to be #1!

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  22. 4 albums down (and an unglugged one) and she is yet to ever let me down I am loving the sound of her new album...kind of 80's but also very deep. thank you for the review.

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  23. I swear that this album was going to suck but you know you either picked really good clips or something b/c i can't stop listening to your clips! :)The album is sensational! A+

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  24. I have always been an Aicia Keys fan and I didn't know how I would feel about Empire State of Mind Part II but I love it....so much emotion. New York for life!

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  25. amazing album, excellent voice, one of a kind material this girl is unstoppable.

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  26. thanks i can't wait to listen to the entire thing!

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  27. I loved the bonus tracks.

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  28. Not a bad review. I hope she kills it on the charts again she always sells 700,000 +.

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  29. I love "like the sea" and "put it on a love song" so amazing. She never comes any shorter than genius.

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  30. I am in love with "Try sleeping with a broken heart" that is my song and jam.

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  31. I cannot stop listening to this amazing album, I am on my way to Target to purchase this gem. Thanks this review changed my mind!

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  32. I really love the duet Beyonce' and her have! Great review btw I hope other reviewers see it the same way.

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  33. Wow! Alicia has grown so much from her first album, it was great but this is just a massive improvement! I love the 80's feel I get from this album, my favorite tracks are 'put it in a love song' and 'the sea'.

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  34. I LOVE IT!!! GO ALICIA!!!

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  35. I love this so much, it is right where I am in life to she always puts out such meaningful music. Your review was excellent and though it is a bit mid-tempo what did people expect from her a club bangin' cd? She is amazing and I am so happy to have been alive to see it go down

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  36. AMAZING is all I can say. This is one of the best R*B albums I have heard since MJ's or Aretha Franklin's :)

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  37. I am awe of this woman, I wish I had one ounce of her talent. Each album she puts out is stronger and better. Thank you for the review and the snippets.

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  38. I cannot believe how incredibly amazing this album is...I am in such a great mood thanks to her. She always finds ways to make our holiday seasons that much better. I just bought my copy on itunes too and I loved the deluxe version with all the awesome videos and extra songs...now this was so worth my money and time.

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  39. Alicia Keys is the common day Aretha Franklin or Janet Jackson...I love it!

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  40. I don't absolutely love it yet, but that always happens with her albums, it will be on repeat soon I know it.

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  41. This album is just nowhere as near as good as her previous two albums. Alicia is capable of so much more.

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  42. I think it’s probably her most sincere album to date. Lyrically it’s great, and the song with Drake is very sensual.

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  43. This album is sincere, realistic, everyone human being can relate to it. So what if its not ‘classic’ like ‘Fallin’? Time will tell what is classic anyway!!!

    To me, Love is blind & Empire state of mind have the potential to become classics!!!!

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  44. I love Alicia Keys. She’s one of my greatest inspirers. I love her music and I think that no matter what she sings, she’ll always be great. I really like, “that’s how strong my love is.”

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  45. Unthinkable is the best R&B song ive heard in a longggg time. But i did expect alot more from the Alicia/ Beyonce collabo.

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  46. I’m in love with the album, fav track being Unthinkable. If you expect every album to sound like a continuation of the last then artist like AK, Kanye West wouldn’t take risks and try something new. The lyrics in this album don’t try to be a clever combination of poetic words, but rather, a true expression of lifes moments. I love it!

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  47. Spot-on review! The only song she shines on in “The Element of Freedom” is “Empire State of Mind (Part 2).

    I have read here and there that this was a very “emotional” album for her. She’s struggled with a lot lately, from the death of her matriarchal grandmother to the backlash in response to her affair with the married Swizz Beatz. Perhaps it was her intention to focus more on feelings than music.

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  48. The thing about Alicia is, she’s an amazingly talented singer-songwriter, pianist and performer, and no doubt she has the potential to make some truly great, memorable albums, but I feel that she’s always holding herself back. Songs in A Minor and Diary of Alicia Keys were fantastic, but after that her music’s been pretty… meh for the most part. And although I have not heard this album, I’m not getting my hopes up that it’s a great album on any level. It has some singles that are sure to burn up the charts and probably ensure that this album will reach multi-platinum status, but I don’t want an album that just has a few catchy singles and the rest is forgettable filler. We have plenty of artists that do that, enough really. Peter’s right, she sounds like someone who’s long past her creative peak. Why would someone with her talent put out such weak material? She needs to do something exciting, like make a jazz album with a jazz band. Or collaborate with someone who ISN’T tired and overrated like John Mayer and Chis Martin (especially John, can’t stand him). The only worthwhile collab she’s had is with Jack White. Someone ought to introduce her to Muse, and maybe she can consider working with them, or at least Matt Bellamy. His over-the-topness and her understated style and their insane talents would make a perfect combo.

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  49. Because she's been around for awhile, it's easy to forget that Ms. Keys is a young artist. When it comes to matters of the heart, she conveys enthusiasm and resilience: It's as if she's convinced that love and happiness are natural states. In "Distance and Time," when she sings "I'll wait a million days to see you smile," it sounds like she means it.

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  50. "The Element of Freedom" presents Ms. Keys as a singular artist who knows the past well and has decided to move forward in triumph.

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  51. Alicia Keys is a music artist I've followed since her debut and thus far she has not disappointed me. With her previous release, AS I AM, Alicia dabbled in a kind of throwback '70s pop/soul sound that worked on some tracks and didn't on others. Overall I thought it was a great concept album and enjoyed the music.

    For this album I'd hoped that she would have a greater balance between soulful tunes vs pop tunes but this collection is an ecclectic mix of tracks that stray even farther away from the soul songstress we were introduced to with her debut SIAM. It's not a bad thing because as a fan of music I love to see someone grow with each album and try different sounds especially when that artist has such a strong sense of direction and musicality as Alicia.

    I got my copy last night and after only 1 listen immediately fell in love with 7 songs:

    UNTHINKABLE (I'M READY) - this is a slow grinder featuring Drake on background vocals. I love the beats & she sounds incredible;

    THIS BED - another homage to the inimitable Prince. This is a very catchy midtempo track reminiscent of an '80s Prince track;

    THAT'S HOW STRONG MY LOVE IS - melodically pretty track with gorgeous lyrics;

    HOW IT FEELS TO FLY - another melodically pretty track featuring a choir during the ending chorus;

    EMPIRE STATE OF MIND - PT II (BROKEN DOWN) - really nice stripped down version of her hit duet with Jay-Z; the last two are the bonus tracks:

    LOVER MAN - a grinder/sexy track & WE'RE ALMOST THERE - production reminds me of an old school Jackson 5 mashed with Marvin Gaye track, vocally she sounds great on this one.

    Of course I've already heard and really enjoy both of her single releases:
    TRY SLEEPING WITH A BROKEN HEART - which is a track that I imagine could've been on AS I AM, it has that same 70s pop feel that that whole album had & DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING - another heartfelt ballad that escapes being cheesy because of her soulful performance.

    Growers - songs that didn't initially resonate with me but I find interesting are: LOVE IS BLIND - the vocals sound nothing like AKeys which threw me the first few times I listened to this track but the more I listen to it, the more I began to appreciate her taking a risk on a different type of sound; WAIT TILL YOU SEE MY SMILE - same comment as for LIB; LOVE IS MY DISEASE - subtle reggae beat along with her straining sounding vocals during the chorus add to the urgency of the song & it's lyrics - not totally unpleasant to hear but it's taking a while to grow on me; PUT IT IN A LOVE SONG - the hyped duet with Beyonce..it's a catchy track that I'm sure will get massive play and eventually a video. It's a different sound for AKeys and definitely sounds more like a typical Beyonce track.

    I strongly dislike: LIKE THE SEA - innane lyrics and strange musical production, could not get into this track at all & DISTANCE & TIME - very blah track, no soul or urgency. it has a pretty melody and lyrics but BLAH! I didn't connect to this track at all.

    Overall I'm enjoying listening to this set and think it's on par with AS I AM in terms of the sound and where Alicia seems to be going musically. I don't think it's a step back but it's not a set that exceeds what she has done in the past on her last albums either. As a fan, I am very happy with the 7 songs I mentioned above as those that I loved instantly and find the growers interesting enough NOT to skip as I listen.

    I'd highly recommend this disc to fans because if you like her music there is enough diversity between the tracks that I'm sure you'll enjoy more than a few tracks and suggest that non-fans sample tracks to see which tracks they like first.

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  52. Alicia Keys evolves on this album, which is great. Now for people who do not like change, this may not be for you. Some fans like their singers to stick to the same ole, same ole. However, how boring is that? I respect artists who take their art to the next level, and Alicia has done just that.

    Favorites:

    "Love Is Blind". This is a total break away from our old Alicia. She goes there people, and I love it.
    "Wait Til You See Me Smile". Here, we feel Alicia in many elements of the song. Vocals, lyrics and that Piano playing along. Classic Alicia.
    "How It Feels To Fly". This song does that...takes you on a journey. It's soars and ends on a high note. Beautiful song.
    "Empire State of Mind (Part 2) Broken Down"...Nice job on making it her own.

    If you are a true Alicia Keys fan, get your copy. You won't be disappointed.

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  53. Another work of art that AGAIN shows that this beautiful talented singer continues to do HER thing with little care or concern for keeping up with the pop trash that is polluting our airwaves. It shows growth, development and maturity which surpasses all of her peers and again reminds us that Alicia Keys will be around in 20 years when many of her contemporaries have crashed and burned.

    However, I have deducted a star out of dissappointment that someone as gifted as Miss Keys could sully a work of art by collaborating with the ubiquitous Ms Knowles. "Put it in a love song" is right up there with The Cheeky Girls or J Lo's "I'm still Jenny from the block". This three minutes and 15 seconds of vapid, insignificant nonsense is typical of the type of music we all come to expect from Beyonce - "What up A, what up B, text me on your cell phone blah blah blah" - Uggh !!!! Just horrid.

    Otherwise, the album is a beautiful collection of thought provoking catchy beats and ballads. Turn the lights out, get a glass of wine on these cold, dark, wintry evenings, sit back and enjoy.

    Miss Keys, once again - I salute you.

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  54. Check me out I made an album review on youtube enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNfDxSsT8i4

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  55. Fave Tracks:
    Love Is Blind
    Wait til you see my smile
    Empire state of mind II

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  56. Unthinkable is an amazing song!!

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  57. "Put It In A Love Song" is a beast! I love that song, but Beyonce shouldn't feature on songs because she will always outshine the main artist just like she did with Lady GaGa on "Telephone".

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  58. I use to love A keys but lately she's been singing like she's prince. I mean Love prince and all but Alcia is taking the whole whispering thing to a whole nother level.

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  59. I agree, this really is a grower album. I preordered the Empire Edition and I really like it though!
    This Bed, it's REALLY influenced by Prince... How It Feels To Fly is my favorite, it makes me so emotional! :')
    Like The Sea is super good too, and I agree with the TSWABH video. The video and song don't match at all.
    Unthinkable's beat does sound like Slow Down, I love how it's produced by Drake and it sounds INCREDIBLE! Heard it may be the next single...

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  60. love her song Love is blind!!!

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  61. I haven't heard the album yet, but thanks for this. I was really contemplating on whether to buy it or not, because I had a feeling it would be a same old sounding Akeys record.
    I will still support the album though, since I like her music. I have all her albums, so it won't hurt to spend 10 dollars more. :)

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  62. Umm I know that you dont like her singing over a piano... But that is Alicia's "gimmick" as you would call it. It is what makes her different from all the other Artist, her ability to play piano. Just like Beyonce's "gimmick" is dancing in heels and Lady Gaga's gimmick is just being wierd.

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  63. i love the album and i agree it does get better with each listen; my fav/ tracks are: unthinkable, thats how strong my love is, Empire, how it feels to fly, distance and time), overall i like your review

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  64. I really like her album on my first listen. I'm sure when I continue to listen to it (like you said) I'll start to love it. Yea, I'd say B+ too. I still think As I Am is her best so far. My fav songs are Try Sleeping..., Empire State of Mind II, This Bed, and That's How Strong My love Is.

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  65. She killed those adlibs at the end of "thats how strong my love it" I love it when these singers actually sing. I agree with everything you said. At first I hated this album then I loved it after the 5th listen.

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  66. I just bought it today thanks for the fyi on it I didn't know judging from the first couple of singles but wow she really made an album full of raw emotion and love. Thanks!

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  67. Her best and most personal album to date. I wonder why some just don't like it?

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  68. I am almost sure that I love this album there is just something about it that I don't absolutely love, I'll keep on listening and see how I feel.

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  69. Alicia Keys is the absolute best! Nobody can top her right now and that is the way it will remain.

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  70. Your review and that snippet video was awesome. Thank you so much. What did you think of the Mary J. Blige album, it was horrible imo.

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  71. This is such a wonderful album, I cannot stop listening to it. Thanks!

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  72. ALICIA has done it again. A solid album full of meaningful things rather than disco sticks and love stories.

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  73. I absolutely love empire state of mind part II and like the sea...those two are my jams on repeat!!!!

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  74. wOOOhOOOO!!! I love this so much!!

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  75. Absolutely lovely! I cannot stop listening. It is on repeat@! :)

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  76. One of the best r and b albums of the century. How does she do it? Always coming at us with some amazing material!

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  77. Wow!!!! I am in love with this album. It was love at first listen.

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  78. GO ALICIA!! My favorites are her duet with Beyonce/Drake and Like The Sea! These songs are so deep, I wonder if people who listen to it once get it?

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  79. Just saw her on tv and i loved it, the album is such a great represenation of her god given talents.

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  80. What is there not to like?

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  81. One of this years best albums imo. Can't go wrong with ms. alicia keys!

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  82. Absolutely the best r&b album in a very long time. I love how she does what she is feeling and not what the industry is pushing you to do! Keep doing your thing Alicia, you will always have fans that truly appreciate all that you do for us!

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  83. I really like "Put It In a Love Song." :) That's exactly how I feel! ;)

    And Empire State of Mind II is just awesome!

    Gotta listen to it again to see what other songs I really like are, though...haven't gotten to listen to the lyrics that closely yet, and you know how I am about lyrics. :)

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  84. Oh, I forgot to say that I also like "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart" and "Doesn't Mean Anything."

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  85. She has the most powerful voice ever! I like her new song with Beyonce. It makes my toes dance. lol.

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