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This article is about the Alicia Keys song. For the Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul song, see Fallin' (De La Soul/Teenage Fanclub song). For the Connie Francis song, see Fallin' (Connie Francis song). For other uses, see Falling.
Single by Alicia Keys
from the album Songs in A Minor
B-side "Rear View Mirror"
Released January 13, 2001
Format CD single, 12" single
Recorded 2001; KrucialKeys Studios
(New York City, New York)
Genre R&B, soul, gospel
Length 3:30
Label J
Writer(s) Alicia Keys
Producer(s) Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys singles chronology
"A Woman's Worth"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Fallin'" is a song by American recording artist Alicia Keys. It served as Keys' debut single from her debut album, Songs in A Minor (2001). Written and produced by Keys, it was released by J Records to radio and music video outlets in 2001. The song is generally considered her signature song.[1]

The song attained global success, reaching number-one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and reached the top five in several countries. It also received numerous certifications around the world, and is one of the best-selling singles of 2001. In 2009, the single was named the 29th most successful song of the 2000s, on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade.[2] It won three Grammy Awards in 2002, including Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and was also nominated for Record of the Year.

Background and composition[edit]

The song was written by Alicia Keys as the lead single from her debut studio album, Songs in A Minor.[3][not in citation given] When asked about the background behind the song, Keys told Billboard, "I wanted to write a song for someone who was 10 or 12 years old -- like a young Michael Jackson. Even though he was young, he was singing some deep stuff back then. [The song] is about the ins and outs of a relationship. Sometimes, you're completely head-over-heels in love with someone, and sometimes you can't stand that person. You fall in and out, sometimes it goes back and forth, and that's just what relationships are about."[4] The song samples the early James Brown hit, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World."

"Fallin'" is described as a R&B-soul song with gospel influences.[5][6] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is set in 12/8 time with a "free" tempo of 60 beats per minute.[7] It is composed in the key of E minor with Keys' vocal range spanning from the low-note of B3 to the high-note of E5.[7] The song has a basic chord progression of Em–Bm7–Em–Bm7 as it follows a "moderate blues tempo" throughout the chorus of the song.[7]

Critical reception[edit]


Keys performing "Fallin'" in Frankfurt, Germany, 2002

NME called it a "[m]assive, massive massive hit" adding "Piano tinkles, drum machine coughs like an athsmatic whippet and Alicia strokes your spine with ice cubes and spatters your spotty back with hot candle wax".[8] The song was described as "gospel fervor of lovesick righteousness" by Beth Johnson of Entertainment Weekly.[9] Robert Hilburn of The Los Angeles Times described the song as having "the neo-soul vitality of Macy Gray and Jill Scott."[10] Sam Faulkner of NME said that the song had "deeper moments [that] creep up and grab you exemplified."[11] Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters said that the song "combines Key's natural blues register with a subtle, and brilliantly so, sample of James Brown's 'It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World'."[12] Barry Walters of Rolling Stone said "there's no denying the serious early Aretha vibe permeating the hit."[13] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine said that "the gospel-tinged [song] starts out simply with measured piano and basic drum programming, eventually building to a crescendo of operatic proportions."[14] Steve Jones of USA Today described the song as "a bluesy ode to self-destructive love" and further commented that the song "is only a teaser for what she has to offer."[15] Simon Price of The Independent called the song Keys' breakthrough song and noted how the melody of the song is similar to Queen's "We Are the Champions".[16] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic pointed out the lack of depth in the song, saying it "doesn't have much body to it", which he felt was "a testament to Keys' skills as a musician."[17]


In the The Village Voice‍ '​s 2001 Pazz & Jop critics' poll, the song appeared at number four on the list.[18] In September 2011, "Fallin'" was placed at number 22 by VH1 on its list for the 100 Greatest Songs of the '00s.[19] "[G]ospel vibe and powerful vocals form Keys" led Complex to place the song on number two on its list of "The 25 Best Alicia Keys Songs".[20] The Telegraph compiled a list of "100 songs that defined the Noughties" and placed "Fallin'" at number 97.[21]Rolling Stone ranked it number sixty-two on their Top 100 Songs of the 2000s decade.[22] "Fallin'" charted at 413 in Blender magazine's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born.[23] In 2011, the song ranked at number five on Nerve's list of "The 25 Greatest Love Songs of the 2000s".[24]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, "Fallin'" debuted at number ninety-eight on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of June 16, 2001. The song stayed on the chart for nine weeks before eventually peaking at number one on the chart.[25] It remained on the chart for a total of 34 weeks. It managed to chart on the 2001 Billboard Year-End Hot 100 at number two behind Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment".[26]

Awards and nominations[edit]

As one of the most critically acclaimed singles of 2001, "Fallin'" was nominated for several awards. "Fallin'" connected well with NARAS as the song was nominated in 2002 for four Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song. It ended up winning all but one of the awards she was nominated for (Record of the Year was awarded to U2's "Walk On").[27]

At the 2001 Billboard Music Awards, "Fallin'" was nominated for the Hot 100 Single of the Year; however, it lost the award to Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment". The song was also nominated for Outstanding Song and Outstanding Music Video at the 2002 NAACP Image Awards; it did not win in either category.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Fallin'", directed by Chris Robinson. Unlike most other contemporary R&B videos, the video for "Fallin'" was a low-key clip with no dancing.[citation needed] The video opens with a radio playing "Girlfriend", where Keys is sitting at a piano. The plot has Keys traveling to a prison to visit her incarcerated boyfriend.[28] The plot is continued in the video for Keys' next single, "A Woman's Worth", which explores what happens when Keys' boyfriend is released and, with her help, adjusts back to regular life. Keys said in an interview that she was supposed to be the one incarcerated, and her boyfriend was visiting her.

Track listings and formats[edit]




Country Certification
Australia[71] Platinum
Austria[72] Gold
Belgium[73] Platinum
France[74] Gold
Germany[75] Gold
Netherlands[76] Platinum
New Zealand[77] Platinum
Norway[78] Platinum
Sweden[79] Platinum
Switzerland[80] Platinum
United Kingdom[81] Silver
United States[82] Gold

See also[edit]


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  7. ^ a b c "Alicia Keys – Fallin' Sheet Music (Digital Download)". Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
"Beautiful Day" by U2
Grammy Award for Song of the Year
Succeeded by
"Don't Know Why" by Norah Jones
Preceded by
"He Wasn't Man Enough" by Toni Braxton
Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
Succeeded by
"He Think I Don't Know" by Mary J. Blige
Preceded by
"Say My Name"
Grammy Award for Best R&B Song
Succeeded by
"Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)"