Alicia Keys is offering fans plenty of options with her latest single, “Girl on Fire,” by simultaneously releasing three versions of the song.
Her “choose your favorite version” approach for the single -- the title track to her forthcoming album, due out Nov. 27 -- comes in the form of the original and a two-part suite: an “Inferno” remix featuring Nicki Minaj and a stripped-down “Blue Light” version.
Keys’ strength has largely been her ballads, especially the sweeping, dramatic numbers where she gives her powerful vocals the space to run amok over anthemic hooks. “Girl on Fire” fits nicely into that pocket.
Built on the heavy drums of Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat” (the “Inferno” version has an added bit of thump), Keys delivers a fierce battle cry atop a fast-building, yet simplistic hook. “This girl is on fire,” she belts. “Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame, so bright, she can burn your eyes.”
The version most fit for pop radio? The original, as it offers a nice throwback to another of her bombastic assaults, 2007’s smash “No One.” However, Minaj’s guest spot, and its two effortlessly fluid verses, might get more attention.
But overlooking the stripped-down “Blue Light” edition would be unfortunate as it’s the most intoxicating of the three. Backed by dripping synths and light chord progressions, Key’s smoky delivery presents the empowering lyrics with a greater sense of urgency. The “Blue Light” version dips into the sensual side of the singer last heard on her sleeper hit “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready).”
Keys is set to perform some version of the single on the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday.
Listen to both suites below.
The Nicki Minaj “Inferno” remix:
The stripped-down “Blue Light” edition: