The Diary of Alicia Keys is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys. It was released in the United States on December 2, 2003, by J Records. The album was recorded at several recording studios, and production was handled primarily by Keys with contributions from Kerry Brothers, Jr., and Kanye West.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 618,000 copies in its first week. It became Keys' second consecutive number-one debut in the United States and spawned three top-ten singles. Upon its release, The Diary of Alicia Keys received generally positive reviews from music critics and earned Keys three Grammy Awards at the 47th Grammy Awards. With domestic sales of four million copies and worldwide sales of eight million copies, The Diary of Alicia Keys is the thirty-first best-selling album of the 2000s decade.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2010)
Alicia Keys's 2001 debut album, Songs in A Minor, sold over 6.2 million copies and earned five Grammy Awards. Due to the extreme popularity of her debut album, there was a lot of pressure on the album to match or exceed that success. The album proved to be as successful as her debut album, and was nominated for two of the "big four" Grammy Awards: Song of the Year for "If I Ain't Got You", and Album of the Year. The album also sold over twice as many copies in its first week as Songs in A Minor.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 618,000 copies, serving as Keys' second consecutive number-one debut in the United States. It spent 88 weeks on the chart, leaving at number 198 in 2005. It has sold over 4.4 million copies in the US. and more than ten million copies worldwide. The album's four singles, "You Don't Know My Name", "If I Ain't Got You", "Diary" and "Karma", reached the top twenty of the Billboard Hot 100, with three of them becoming top ten hits.
The Diary of Alicia Keys received generally positive reviews from critics; it holds an average score of 71, based on 17 reviews, at Metacritic.The Times said that the album "confirmed her place in musical history". Critics described Keys' music as neo soul and contemporary R&B.Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani said that it "triumphs" the neo soul "achievements" of Songs in A Minor and is "a deft mix of modernism and classicism, not to mention street and class."Q magazine called it "a proper soul album which hooks you with the first pneumatic beat and draws you deeper with every heady atmosphere and vivid emotion."Jon Pareles, writing in The New York Times, claimed that "it has taken The Diary of Alicia Keys ... to testify that soul songwriting can survive" and felt that the album "echoes familiar soul sounds, but Ms. Keys sounds undaunted by her sources, and she's learning fast."Rob Sheffield, writing in Rolling Stone, called the album "an assured, adult statement, steeped in the complicated love life and musical dreams of an ambitious young woman who has absorbed enough Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin records to live up to the soul promise of 'Harlem's Nocturne'." Dimitri Ehrlich of Vibe said that Keys is able to "sustain drama over the course" of the "masterful" album, which appropriates the "minimalist" productions of classic soul. Kris Ex of Blender called it "an enthusiastic album full of masterful strokes and electrifying intensity."
In a mixed review, Josh Tyrangiel of Time said that the album's first six songs are "models of how to make nostalgic music that is not anti-present", but the second half "sags".David Browne, writing in Entertainment Weekly, similarly said that the second half "drifts into a narcotized semi-slumber of one earnest, samey retro-soul piano ballad after another." Laura Sinagra of The Village Voice felt that the album's songs lack hooks and other "surface content", sounding instead like unfinished vocal sketches.Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters said that it only shows "fleeting glimpses" of Keys' actual sensibilities and said that, although it "clearly evinces Keys’s growth as an artist since Songs in A Minor," the album is "clearly laboring to be relevant to the current marketplace and thus suffers from a serious lack of cohesion.Alexis Petridis, writing in The Guardian, found it creatively safe and marred by "anodyne slow numbers studded with knowing references to old records".Uncut found Keys' lyrics boring and filled with a "litany of cliche and hackneyed need-a-man" wailing.Robert Christgau of The Village Voice rated the album a "dud", indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought."