Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

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"Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down"
Single by Alicia Keys
from the album The Element of Freedom
B-side "We're Almost There"
Released February 22, 2010
(see release history)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2009
Genre R&B, soul
Length 3:36
Label RCA, J
  • Keys
  • Shuckburgh [1]
Alicia Keys singles chronology
"Put It in a Love Song"
"Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down"
"Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)"

"Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down" is a song performed by American recording artist Alicia Keys. It is an answer song to the Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z, on which Keys is featured. It was only officially released in the United Kingdom as the second single from her 2009 album The Element of Freedom although it gained international airplay and download sales.

Before the official release date of "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down", it climbed as high as number four on the UK Singles Chart on downloads alone. The success of the song from a high volume of album downloads, led to the song being announced as the second single from The Element of Freedom in the UK. The single was released on February 22, 2010.[2] It also appears on the soundtrack for Sex and the City 2.[3] Keys and "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down" are featured on new HP Beats Commercial.[4]


Following the release of "Empire State of Mind" in January 2010, Keys stated that she was planning to release a second version of the song featuring only her vocals, as a single the following month.[2] The original takes of Keys' version, entitled "Empire State of Mind Part 2", included both Keys' vocals and a new rap verse from Jay-Z,[5] but the final product did not include Jay-Z.[6] Discussing the record, Keys claimed that it acts as a dichotomy of strength and vulnerability, commenting that "The music is really strong, and the drums are really aggressive, but my voice is vulnerable and delicate".[2]

Critical reception[edit]

"Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down" was generally well received by contemporary music critics in their reviews for The Element of Freedom.[8][9][10] Allison Stewart of The Washington Post noted that the track, which is a pop ballad, had replaced "Empire State of Mind" sports team references and ruminations with "even milder and less controversial string of generalities", highlighting Keys' version's lyrics "If I could make it here/I could make it anywhere".[11] Greg Kot of Hartford Courant wrote that Keys' version "retains the soaring vocal hook" but the track "loses its swagger" without Jay-Z.[12]

Chart performance[edit]

On December 20, 2009, due to high downloads of "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down", the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number fifty-two. As of February 14, 2010 it has reached a new peak of number four on downloads alone (her highest charting solo single since "Fallin" reached number three in 2001). It became Keys' eighth top ten hit in the UK and second from The Element of Freedom.[13] It ended up spending eight straight weeks within the top 10 in the country, the longest stay for any of her songs including the original version, Jay-Z's, "Empire State of Mind" in which she is featured. So far, it has spent 26 consecutive weeks within the top 40 as well as 52 weeks within the top 100, becoming Keys' most successful single ever. In December 2010 the song was announced as the thirteenth biggest selling single of the year in the UK, surpassing a number of chart-toppers and shaping as the biggest selling non-top-two single with 575,500 copies sold. In May 2011, the song would re-enter the top 100 by jumping from No. 189 to No. 93 in its 76th charting week.[14] On January 21, 2010 the single entered the Irish Singles Chart at forty-six and reached eight.[15] It also debuted on the Billboard R&B charts at number seventy-seven and peaked at number fifty-five on the Billboard Hot 100 without an official release.[16]

Live performances[edit]

On November 29, Keys performed the song's chorus in a medley alongside "Doesn't Mean Anything" and "No One", on the sixth season of the United Kingdom television show, The X Factor.[17] Keys performed the full version of the song on 4Music Favourites. Keys also performed the song on Saturday Night Live along with "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart".[18] Stephen Colbert and Keys also performed the song together on The Colbert Report with Colbert adding his own verses on December 15, 2009.[19] For the 2010 Radio 1 Big Weekend, the track's chorus was changed from "New York..." to "North Wales..." and the new version waxes lyrical about all that the North Wales coast has to offer. Lyrics include; "Yes, today I travelled north from Harlech to the Menai Bridge. What a pretty drive, with so much to see it’s such a privilege."[20] On June 28, 2011, Keys performed the song on Good Morning America. Keys also performed the song as the final number at the six-hour 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief on December 12, 2012.[21]

Music video[edit]

There has been no official music video shot for "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down". However, due to the success of the song, leading to the song being released as a single, the 4Music Favourites performance was shown on music channels as the music video.[22]


UK R&B artist Lemar covered on the BBC 1Xtra Live Lounge on February 3, 2010.[23] In June 2014, American artist Alice Ripley and Ripley The Band recorded a guitar version of the song and released it on their Soundcloud page.[24] The Bryan Ferry Orchestra has performed the song on the album The Great Gatsby Jazz Recordings: A Selection of Yellow Cocktail Music (2013).[25]

September 11th remembrance[edit]

During football games on September 11, 2011, State Farm used this song in one of its advertisements. The commercial was directed by Spike Lee and featured children from New York City. In addition the full track was listed on iTunes as a benefit to the National Fallen Firefighters Association.

Track listings[edit]

UK digital download[26]
No. Title Length
1. "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down"   3:36
German CD single & digital download[27][28]
No. Title Length
1. "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down"   3:36
2. "We're Almost There"   3:35

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom February 3, 2010 Radio airplay
United Kingdom February 22, 2010[2][56] Digital download RCA Records
Sweden March 22, 2010[1] Sony Music
Germany May 28, 2010 [57][58] CD single


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External links[edit]