Fire We Make

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"Fire We Make"
Alicia Keys - Fire We Make.jpg
Single by Alicia Keys featuring Maxwell
from the album Girl on Fire
Released March 28, 2013
Genre Neo soul, quiet storm
Length 3:56
Label RCA
Songwriter(s) Alicia Keys, Warren "Oak" Felder, Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Gary Clark, Jr.
Producer(s) Alicia Keys, Pop & Oak
Alicia Keys Singles singles chronology
"New Day"
"Fire We Make"
"Tears Always Win"
"New Day"
"Fire We Make"
"Tears Always Win"
Maxwell singles chronology
"Fistful of Tears"
(2010) Fistful of Tears2010
"Fire We Make"
(2013) Fire We Make2013
"Lake by the Ocean"
(2016) Lake by the Ocean2016

"Fire We Make" is a song by American recording artists Alicia Keys featuring Maxwell, taken from Keys' fifth studio album Girl on Fire (2012). It was written and produced by Keys along with Gary Clark, Jr. and Warren "Oak" Felder and Andrew "Pop" Wansel from production duo Pop & Oak. "Fire We Make" is a downbeat neo soul ballad with adult contemporary R&B influences, in which Keys and Maxwell adopt sensual falsetto vocals. The instrumental elements used on it include echoing electric guitar riffs and clapping synthesizers. In "Fire We Make", Keys and Maxwell, as the protagonists, confess their love and speak of the chemistry they have with each other which they compare to fire that is "getting hotter and hotter."

"Fire We Make" was well received by contemporary music critics, who noted its similarity to songs by Prince; they also praised its steamy production and the vocal performance of both singers. Released as the album's third single in the United States in March 2013, it has since reached number 29 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number 1 on Adult R&B chart. Its music video was directed by Chris Robinson and shot in the French Quarter neighborhood New Orleans, Louisiana in April 2013. A period short film, it depicts Keys and Maxwell as a boarding house receptionist and her guest respectively. The song was part of Keys' set list during her Set the World on Fire Tour.

Critical reception[edit]

Andrew Hampp of Billboard felt that it is "kindling a different kind of heat on this slow jam, a neo-soul duet with Maxwell that also features guitar work from Gary Clark Jr. Keys doesn't have many adult love-making ballads to her name, as they can often be bogged down by post-Barry White clichés or latter-period Janet Jackson TMI. But with help from Maxwell's falsetto-drenched guest verse, "Fire We Make" is worthy of its likely place on many bedroom playlists."[1] BBC Music's Daryl Easlea found that "the beautiful, sensual" song was "all muted horns and synth bass, a textbook quiet storm. The more you hear this track, the deeper you fall in love with it."[2] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "in the slow-burning "Fire We Make," [Keys] doubles down on the here-and-now vibe, trading breathy vocal lines with Maxwell over fuzzy soul-blues guitar by Gary Clark Jr."[3] Stephen M. Deusner from Pitchfork Media called the song "an old-fashioned slow jam that doesn't have a whole lot of actual song to it and honestly doesn't need it. Instead, it's an excuse for vocal and sexual fireworks from two of R&B's strongest singers, with Keys' bold voice evocatively contrasting Maxwell's softer, slightly hoarse delivery."[4] Anupa Mistry from Now dubbed "Fire We Make" the "record’s high point" and a "scorching slow jam."[5]

Less enthusiastic, Fact's Chris Kelly wrote that the track "isn’t bad, per se, but it apes the sensuality of songs like "Diary" and "Dragon Days"."[6] Similarly, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune noted that "in their between-the-sheets duet on “Fire We Make,” Keys and Maxwell take turns tossing clichés about candles, heat and moths being drawn to the flame. Gary Clark Jr. arrives with a guitar solo that throws some much needed dissonance at the sleep-walking couple, but it’s too late."[7] Somewhat critical with the album, Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson found that Keys's "flames more believably and compellingly stoked in the denouement of "Fire We Make," a sultry duet with Maxwell's ever-promiscuous falsetto warbling pillow talk."[8] Both The Boston Globe and Rap-Up ranked the song among their favorite tracks on the album alongside "Girl on Fire,” “Tears Always Win,” and “Not Even the King”.”[9][10]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Fire We Make" was filmed in various locations throughout the French Quarter in New Orleans.[11]

The music video for "Fire We Make" was filmed by American director Chris Robinson in New Orleans, Louisiana in April 2013, with parts of the video shot inside a boarding house in the Garden District and the French Quarter neighborhoods respectively.[11] It marked Keys' tenth collaboration with him.[11] Production was helmed by Nina Miller for Robinson's Robot Films, while Bradford Young served as the video's director of photography; editing was handled by Bill Yukich.[11] The video simultaneously premiered on BET's show 106 & Park and music video website Vevo on April 23, 2013 at 6pm.[11]

The video begins as a 1920s period short film, with Keys' narrating: 'It was an amazing time. An amazing time to be in New Orleans. The heat, the French Quarter, and him. And we fell in love.'[12] Wearing a long cream-coloured dress, Keys races downstairs to the reception of Battiers Boarding House, where she works, to welcome Maxwell, a guest who shows up and asks if there is a room available.[12] After he checks in, she lets him into his room before retreating to her own. The narrative unfolds as the pair, from separate rooms, each sing their verses.[12] Breaking a sweat beside a heater, Keys cools herself down with small fan and a bowl full of ice, while Maxwell unpacks his case.[12] As the bridge begins, both are shown in a smoke-filled New Orleans live music venue where Maxwell, dressed in a red suit and dark glasses, sings on stage while Keys leans against the wall on the other side of the room.[12] The song ends with the pair reuniting at the top of the stairs of the grand old hotel.[12]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[13]
No. Title Length
1. "Fire We Make" 3:56

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Girl on Fire.[14]


Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
South Korean International Singles (Gaon)[15] 64
US Adult R&B Songs (Billboard)[16] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[17] 5
US Hot 100 Airplay (Billboard)[16] 72
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[18] 38

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Position
US R&B Songs[19] 29

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
United States March 28, 2013 Urban AC airplay[citation needed] RCA Records
Italy May 10, 2013 Mainstream airplay[20] Sony Music


  1. ^ Hampp, Andrew (November 26, 2012). "Alicia Keys, 'Girl On Fire': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ Easlea, Daryl (November 30, 2012). "Review of Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ Wood, Mikael (November 26, 2012). "Album reviews: Alicia Keys treads familiar ground on 'Girl on Fire'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (December 4, 2012). "Alicia Keys: Girl on Fire". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ Mistry, Anupa (December 6, 2012). "Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire". Now. NOW Communications. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ Kelly, Chris (December 3, 2012). "Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire". Fact. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (November 25, 2012). "Album review: Alicia Keys, 'Girl on Fire'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  8. ^ Henderson, Eric (November 25, 2012). "Alicia Keys: Girl on Fire". Slant Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  9. ^ Reed, James (November 27, 2012). "Alicia Keys's sensual 'Girl on Fire' burns bright". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 20, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Review Roundup: Alicia Keys – 'Girl on Fire'". Rap-Up. November 27, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Stern, Doug (April 23, 2013). "Alicia Keys f/ Maxwell "Fire We Make" (Chris Robinson, dir.)". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Smart, Heidi (April 24, 2013). "Turning up the heat! Alicia Keys debuts steamy music video for new single The Fire We Make". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Girl on Fire (Media notes). Alicia Keys. RCA Records. 2012. 
  15. ^ "South Korea Gaon International Chart (Week: November 25, 2012 to December 1, 2012". Gaon Chart. November 25, 2012. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b[0]=ts_chart_artistname%3A%2AAlicia%20Keys%2A&f[1]=ts_chart_search_title%3A%2AFire%20We%20Make%2A&f[2]=ss_bb_type%3Achart_item&type=1&artist=Alicia%20Keys&title=Fire%20We%20Make
  17. ^ "Alicia Keys Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  18. ^ "Alicia Keys Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Alicia Keys – Fire We Make (feat. Maxwell) (Sony)" (in Italian). Radio Airplay SRL. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]