There's no hiding the intent behind "It's on Again," the new Alicia Keys single boasting guest spots from Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams.
In the song's opening moments, Lamar is heard shouting that this song "is for the warrior"; soon after, Keys arrives to coo that she's "a freedom fighter" and an "eye of the tiger for hope."
For most of its four minutes, "It's on Again" makes it clear that this is a tune designed for a superhero movie. With the start of baseball season this week, don't be surprised to hear this upbeat soulful pop song at more than a few parks over the summer.
Recorded for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," the single also features an assist from soundtrack workhorse Hans Zimmer, who tapped Williams and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to work on the score. "It's on Again" feels a little like two songs smashed into one, as its opening moments are underscored by slow-rising synths that add heft to the generally fierce intensity of Lamar.
Yet the song quickly settles into a more light-stepping groove with the arrival of Keys and switches course into the cool retro-flavored style that producer Williams has used to great effect on his recent album, "Girl," and hit single "Happy." Not a bad recipe to follow given that the latter, from "Despicable Me 2," has sold more than 3.3 million downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Repeating that kind of success is far from a sure thing, but Williams nevertheless accomplishes a somewhat rare feat with "It's on Again." That is, the song keeps Keys relatively restrained, as her voice sticks close to a warm beat. The strings, in fact, draw more attention to themselves than the vocalist.
The soundtrack to "Spider-Man 2" will be out April 22. The film will be released to U.S. theaters on May 2. Listen to the song below.