Fuck a Blog: Alicia Keys on Dick Clark

Fuck a Blog: Alicia Keys on Dick Clark


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Sporadic Non-Sequiturs from the Music Editor

Alicia Keys “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” From Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (ABC)

The whole Times Square New Year’s Eve fiasco is best absorbed from a safe distance—a wood-paneled basement in Zanesville, Ohio, for example, the better to insulate one’s self from the event’s less desirable elements: intemperate climes, pulverizing crowds, Lenny Kravitz. This is a deeply lame event, the flagship of a deeply lame holiday. (All expectation, all inevitable letdown.) That Alicia Keys made it briefly, sublimely transcendent is a herculean feat, an alchemist transforming White Castle into filet mignon.

I’d be angrier with myself for holding out on As I Am (her third) for so long, but you can’t script such a surreal introduction, a bizarre mingling of the convincingly real (her breath visible in the coulda-been-worse chill, her gloved hands a bit unsteady in places) and the suspiciously fake (photogenic front-row denizens mouthing the words, one of whom clutching Alicia’s album-cover photo). What’s miraculous is that all this not terribly appealing context couldn’t overwhelm the song, a sumptuous ladleful of ballad-y goop, the tinkling arpeggios evoking a cinematic snowflake barrage, the staunchly conventional verse/prechorus/chorus/repeat/whoa-oh structure a warm comfort that heats to a climactic roiling boil. Pure Nicholas Sparks cheese soufflé. Your mom would love it. And at 12:10 a.m. or so, the cheap champagne aftertaste still lingering, you had to love it too, even as Alicia threw in corny we’re-all-gone-love-each-other-in-’08 spoken-word asides as the suspiciously photogenic revelers in their chintzy festive crowns waved their hands and made you suddenly, inexplicably care.

You’ll be happy to know this song still kills in the light of plain ol’ New Year’s Day, the scruffy drum machine a nice, spare counterpoint to the high-gloss lushness that floats above it, the heartstopping ski-jump takeoff (“How many really know what love is?”) and heartbreaking landing (“Millions never will”) that kicks off the second verse another stunt that renders the maudlin deeply profound. You can’t even conceive of how many tearjerking first-dance wedding-reception moments this will soundtrack, nor how large a country you could populate with the wedding-night conceptions it’ll oversee. Even Carson Daly can bask in its soft, immutable glow.

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