Alicia Keys– it’s hard to think of her as emeritus now. But her hitmaking years are over, along with top 40 radio play. She had her hits 20 years ago– “Fallin’,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” “Empire State of Mind.” and “If I Ain’t Got You” were the big ones.
But decades pass, audiences grew up and out of the record buying mode. Still, even though Keys’s last few albums were low sellers, they at least sold on CD. Her last album, “Alicia,” had first week sales of just 62,000. And 51,000 of those were on discs.
Her new album, “Keys,” is coming on Friday. But there will be no CDs. It’s just digital. If you’re looking for it on Amazon, you won’t find it. Presumably you’ll be able to download it on iTunes. And stream it on Spotify or Apple Music. But no CDs, no LPs– even though they’re hot right now.
This is unusual. But it’s been many years since Keys, who became an international brand in 2000 thanks to Clive Davis, has sold much of anything. Her last actual hit album, “Girl on Fire,” was released in November 2012 and sold 755,000 copies in the US, about 1.3 million worldwide. Before that, starting in 2000, Keys had had 4 multi-platinum albums.
But Keys’s 2016 album, “Here,” with excellent tracks, had no single. There was no ear-wig for the radio. And it’s been like that for the last few years. In 2020, she had a potential hit in “Underdog,” which was used for commercials and so on, but it never really took off. Recent releases, even a new single called “Best of Me,” has failed to get attention.
Maybe it was just decided to it was too expensive to make CDs or LPs this time around. But not having any physical product for someone who should be a legacy artist seems a shame.