Unplugged (Alicia Keys album)

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Unplugged
Alicia Keys Unplugged.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedOctober 7, 2005 (2005-10-07)
RecordedJuly 4, 2005
VenueBrooklyn Academy of Music (New York City)
GenreR&B
Length72:22
LabelJ
ProducerAlex Coletti
Alicia Keys chronology
The Diary of Alicia Keys
(2003)
Unplugged
(2005)
As I Am
(2007)
Singles from Unplugged
  1. "Unbreakable"
    Released: September 6, 2005
  2. "Every Little Bit Hurts"
    Released: January 17, 2006

Unplugged is the first live album by American singer Alicia Keys. It was released on October 7, 2005 by J Records. Recorded as part of the television program MTV Unplugged on July 4, 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the album includes songs from her first two studio albums Songs in A Minor (2001) and The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003).

Upon its release, Unplugged received generally favorable reviews from critics. It debuted atop the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 196,000 copies,[1] becoming the highest debut for an MTV Unplugged album since Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York (1994) and the first Unplugged by a female artist to debut at number one. The album has sold over one million copies in the United States and over 1.5 million copies worldwide. Additionally, it was nominated for various awards, including the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. It produced two singles–"Unbreakable", which peaked at number 34 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and "Every Little Bit Hurts".

Singles[edit]

"Unbreakable" was released as the lead single from Unplugged on September 6, 2005.[2] It peaked at number 34 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became Keys' sixth Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs top-ten single, peaking at number four.[3][4] Two music videos were produced for the song–the Unplugged version from the album's DVD, and the BET version directed by Justin Francis. The song was nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song,[5] and a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single – Female,[6] winning NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Song and Outstanding Music Video,[7] and a BMI Urban Award.[8]

"Every Little Bit Hurts", the cover of Brenda Holloway's song of the same title, was released as the second and final single on January 17, 2006. Unlike "Unbreakable", it failed to enter any charts, both in the United States and internationally. Its accompanying music video, directed by Francis, premiered on January 17 on BET's 106 & Park.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic[9]
BBC Music(positive)[10]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[11]
The Independent(average)[12]
Jam![13]
Los Angeles Times[14]
PopMatters(5/10)[15]
Rolling Stone[16]
Slant Magazine[17]
USA Today[18]

Upon its release, the album received generally positive reviews from most music critics, based on an aggregate score of 65/100 from Metacritic.[19] E! Online gave the album an A− and said of Alicia Keys: "She might be unplugged--but she's still electrifying."[19] Entertainment Weekly said the album "largely leaves Keys' runaway careerism in the dressing room, where it belongs."[11] Blender gave it four stars out of five and called it "a stellar set."[20] Q gave the album four stars out of five and said it "stands as an apt reminder that she is the finest soul talent of her generation."[19] Billboard gave it a favorable review and said, "This self-assured, illuminating 'MTV Unplugged' performance underscores Keys' boundless passion for her craft."[21] Los Angeles Times gave it three stars out of four and said, "The problems in this 72-minute package come chiefly when the exquisite singer-songwriter moves to what you'd think would be the creative heart of the album: material that isn't on her earlier CDs."[14] Stylus Magazine gave it a B− and stated, "I’m definitely recommending Unplugged--with reservations, but it’s still a recommendation--but damn, I just wish the fun Keys seems to have on stage would translate more clearly to record."[22]

Other critics were more ambivalent. Rolling Stone gave it three stars out of five and said the album "bursts with sweet soul that seems to feed off the adoring crowd."[16] Allmusic gave it two and a half stars out of five and stated, "Over these rhythmic vamps, Keys does have some impressive vocal runs where she departs from the original melody and glides by on the sheer sound of her voice, but when the songs are reduced to their bare essence, her vocalizing doesn't become a way of telling a story, it becomes the reason she's playing music in the first place."[9] Neumu gave it four stars out of ten and called it "just another bloated arena show."[23] Uncut gave it two stars out of five and said, "Keys hasn't the charisma to indulge in the inter-song banter here, which breaks up any soulful flow that might develop despite her sharp, hectoring vocals."[19]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2006 Grammy Award Best R&B Album Unplugged Nominated
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance "If I Was Your Woman" Nominated
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance "Unbreakable" Nominated
Best R&B Song Nominated
2006 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Song Won
Outstanding Music Video Won
Outstanding Album Unplugged Nominated
Outstanding Female Artist Alicia Keys Won
2006 Soul Train Music Award Best R&B/Soul Single – Female "Unbreakable" Nominated
2006 Edison Award DVD Internationaal Unplugged Nominated
2007 BMI Urban Award Award Winning Song "Unbreakable" Won

Commercial performance[edit]

Unplugged debuted atop the US Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, selling 196,000 copies in its first week and becoming her third consecutive number-one debut on the chart.[1] In its second week, it registered a 58-percent sales drop to 83,000 copies, falling to number nine on the Billboard 200 and number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[25][26] The album left the top ten of the Billboard 200 in its third week, falling to number 12.[27] By February 2006, Unplugged had sold over one million copies in the United States.[28] Its CD was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 25, 2008 for shipping one million units,[29] while its DVD was certified gold on November 22, 2005 for shipping 50,000 units.[30]

Internationally, the CD reached the top ten in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the top 20 in Belgium, France, Japan and Portugal, as well as peaking at number 17 on the European Top 100 Albums.[31] The DVD peaked at number one in Spain, reaching the top ten in Australia, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. By February 2006, Unplugged had sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.[32]

Track listing[edit]

Unplugged – CD
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Intro Alicia's Prayer" (Acappella)Traditional1:11
2."Karma"2:10
3."Heartburn"
  • Keys
  • Tim Mosley
  • Walter Millsap III
  • Candice Nelson
  • Erika Rose
3:03
4."A Woman's Worth"3:30
5."Unbreakable"4:34
6."How Come You Don't Call Me"Prince5:23
7."If I Was Your Woman"
4:04
8."If I Ain't Got You"Keys4:06
9."Every Little Bit Hurts"Ed Cobb4:01
10."Streets of New York (City Life)"
7:35
11."Wild Horses" (featuring Adam Levine)6:04
12."Diary"
  • Keys
  • Brothers Jr.
5:53
13."You Don't Know My Name"
3:35
14."Stolen Moments"
5:14
15."Fallin'"Keys5:10
16."Love It or Leave It Alone"/"Welcome to Jamrock" (featuring Mos Def, Common, Damian Marley and friends)
  • Lorenzo DeChalus
  • Derek Murphy
  • Charles Davis
  • Kirk Khaleel
  • Joseph Williams
  • Damian Marley
  • Stephen Marley
  • Ini Kamoze
6:42
Total length:72:22
Unplugged – DVD
No.TitleLength
17."Unbreakable" (music video) 
18."Behind the Scenes: Alicia Keys Unplugged" 

Sample credits

  • "A Woman's Worth" contains a sample of "Footsteps in the Dark" by The Isley Brothers (Ernest Isley, Christopher Jasper, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley Jr.)
  • "Unbreakable" contains a sample of Eddie Kendricks' "Intimate Friends" (Garry Glenn)
  • "Streets of New York (City Life)" contains a sample of "N.Y. State of Mind" by Nas (Eric Barrier, Nasir Jones, Chris Martin, William Griffin)
  • "You Don't Know My Name" contains a sample of "Let Me Prove My Love to You" by The Main Ingredient (J. R. Bailey, Mel Kent, Ken Williams)
  • "Love It or Leave It Alone" contains a sample of "Love Me or Leave Me Alone" by Brand Nubian (Lorenzo DeChalus, Derek Murphy, Charles Davis) and "Latoya" by Just-Ice (Kirk Khaleel, Joseph Williams)

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Unplugged.[33]

  • Alicia Keys – vocals, arranger, executive producer
  • Alex Coletti – director, producer
  • Peter Edge – executive producer
  • Onree Gill – arranger
  • John Harris – audio recording
  • Many Marroquin – mixing
  • Ann Mincieli – assistant engineer
  • Herb Powers – mastering
  • Jared Robbins – assistant engineer
  • Jeff Robinson – executive producer
  • Stewart White – assistant engineer

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Album[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[65] Gold 50,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[66] Gold 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[67] Gold 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[68] Silver 60,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[29] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Video[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[69] Gold 7,500^
Canada (Music Canada)[70] Platinum 10,000^
France (SNEP)[71] Gold 10,000*
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 50,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for Unplugged
Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
Germany October 7, 2005
Sony BMG
France October 10, 2005
United Kingdom RCA
United States October 11, 2005 J
Australia October 17, 2005 Sony BMG
Japan October 26, 2005

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]