"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.
The song was written by Alicia Keys as the lead single from her debut studio album, Songs in A Minor.[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." 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. 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. 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. 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.
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". The song was described as "gospel fervor of lovesick righteousness" by Beth Johnson of Entertainment Weekly. Robert Hilburn of The Los Angeles Times described the song as having "the neo-soul vitality of Macy Gray and Jill Scott." Sam Faulkner of NME said that the song had "deeper moments [that] creep up and grab you exemplified." 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'." Barry Walters of Rolling Stone said "there's no denying the serious early Aretha vibe permeating the hit."
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." 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." 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".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."
In the The Village Voice 's 2001 Pazz & Jop critics' poll, the song appeared at number four on the list. In September 2011, "Fallin'" was placed at number 22 by VH1 on its list for the 100 Greatest Songs of the '00s. "[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".The Telegraph compiled a list of "100 songs that defined the Noughties" and placed "Fallin'" at number 97.Rolling Stone ranked it number sixty-two on their Top 100 Songs of the 2000s decade. "Fallin'" charted at 413 in Blender magazine's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born. In 2011, the song ranked at number five on Nerve's list of "The 25 Greatest Love Songs of the 2000s".
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. 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. 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.