It’s been three years since The Element of Freedom, and with the next on the burner, set for release November 27th, Alicia Keys is turning up the heat. “New Day,” the first single off of Girl On Fire, was a banging and inspiring thing. And now we get the title track, which is actually going to be a three song suite. As such, Keys dropped the suites first two segments yesterday: the chilled out “Girl on Fire (Blue Light)” mix and the Nicki Minaj assisted “Girl on Fire (Inferno)” remix. Still not about actually about Katniss Everdeen, “Girl on Fire” is instead a hot ode to females strong and mighty. “She got her head in the clouds and she’s not backing down,” goes the anthem, “This girl is on fire.”
The “Inferno” version features a booming, mid-tempo drum beat derived from rocker Billy Squire’s 1980 breakbeat classic “The Big Beat,” and two rapped Nicki verses. Theatrics turned down and focus turned up, Nicki opens the track with a meditation on Marilyn Monroe (“Spirit of Marilyn callin’ me, audibly/ Ballin’ she/ Said that she would never leave/ Continue to torture me”) and a Gabby Douglas name check (“But I got ‘em aggy, cause I win the gold like Gabby”). Keys, meanwhile, does her usual singing thing, sounding strong as ever when she lets the “this girl is on fire” refrain soar.
Meanwhile, the “Blue Light” take on the track is hazier and more restrained, sounding more like a classic R&B track. Here, Keys’ vocals float over the slow-burning key and drum machine beat, courtesy of Jeff Bhasker and Salaam Remi, taking “Like a match to a flame” when the empowered chorus hits.
And to think, there’s still a third take to come! Keys will perform “Girl on Fire” tomorrow at the MTV Video Music Awards, but we’ll have to tune in to find out which version it will be. And then, we hope she’ll do it again during her VH1 Storytellers, which is scheduled to air later this fall.
Girl on Fire is finally here! [AliciaKeys.com]