“…there’s more than just money or things”


“If I Ain’t Got you” – Alicia Keys

If you don’t know the song “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys,  I definitely can assure you that you have been living in a hole. This song was written and produced by all-time R&B soul singer, Alicia Keys. Her album cover represents her aspirations and dreams as a singer-songwriter and continues to display her journey in her stardom. This album has also sold over 8 million copies worldwide. “If I Ain’t Got You” was Alicia Keys’s debut single for her second album The Diary of Alicia Keys. It was released on February of 2004 and became her second R&B chart-topper. Keys’s ultimate chart topper was her song “Fallin” from her very first album Songs in A Minor. “If I Ain’t Got You” received two nominations at the 2005 Grammy Awards, for Song of the Year and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The song received many other awards as well. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 and managed to stay on the charts for forty straight weeks. It then rose to number 1 for six non-consecutive weeks, giving it fifty six weeks spent on the Billboard. Talk about success!

However, for Alicia Keys, success wasn’t everything; it still isn’t today. During one of her interviews with MTV, she explains why that is and how it relates to her song “If I Ain’t Got You.” (click on the link to see her interview with MTV). http://www.mtv.com/videos/interview/alicia-keys/922851/alicia-on-the-meaning-behind-if-i-aint-got-you.jhtml#id=1709873.

Furthermore, as we look into the lyrics of “If I Ain’t Got You,” it talks about how money is not everything. Her first verse goes like this.

“Some people live for the fortune. Some people live for the fame.

Some people live for the power. Some people live just to play the game.

Some people think that the physical things define what’s within”

This first verse talks about how people think fame and fortune is all that is needed; that life is meaningless without money. But then she goes on to say:

“I’ve been there before, but that life’s a  bore. So full of the superficial”

Alicia Keys is saying that she has been there and she has been through the fame. She started her singing career right when she got out of high school. Her fame rose and kept on rising. But with all the success, the song goes on to say in the chorus,

“Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all.

If it ain’t you baby, If I ain’t got you baby”

She is explaining that nothing matters, not money, not power, not even fame. The only thing she needs is someone to love, someone who as she said in her second verse, “truly cares for me.”

As for the rest of the song, it is history. Not only has it been known for its powerful lyrics, but it has been known for its unique piano melody and Alicia’s warm, husky soulful voice. The thing that captured my attention as a growing singer was how Alicia Keys filled up the entire song with just her voice, piano, and simple drum beat. The first note on the piano was so powerful yet smooth. Something about the simple musical arrangement captured my interest. During the song, it was as if Alicia Keys was telling me her honesty and sincerity through her voice. But she sang it in a way that was so simple and care-free. The song is later joined in by an electric guitar and few jazz notes from trumpets.

The reason why this is my favorite song is because in my moment of weakness, it helped me overcome. I grew up loving music and loving the idea of becoming a singer/performer. I watched every possible singing competition show there was, especially American Idol. At age 10, I wanted to become a famous K-Pop star in Korea. In Korea, the culture for the Entertainment Industry is “the younger, the better.” Why? Because it is easier to train a child who has not fully developed their skills yet, than train a grown teenager or adult who has. To become a star, you must know how to act, dance, and sing. For two years, I trained by myself. By age 12, my parents were taking me from audition to audition at all the top Entertainment Companies in New York. Even Korean agencies would come to New York and Chicago two times a year for their Global Auditions, which I was always a part of. However, every time I would go to an audition, I would get turned down. For 4 years, that was how it was: prepare for an audition, get rejected. I was starting to lose hope and lost all my energy to the failure. Was I not good enough? High school was coming to an end and I had to start focusing on college. Was I suppose to give up on my dream? I had one last chance before I left for college and I bet my life on this audition. I wanted to sing a song that I wanted to sing; not a song that would be good for my voice or match a certain criteria of the company. I picked “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys because it was a song I practiced daily to and just sang for fun. I picked this song also because it never failed to dishonor my interest in music. I loved the way she put her own style and soul into the song. This song was my inspiration that also helped me develop my own unique voice. So, thinking it was my last chance I went into the audition, only to come out surprised. I got called back by the producer of the company. They wanted to see me again. My first ever offer!

From there, the story goes on. But I owe where I stand today to this song for giving me back my confidence and reassuring me in my passion. Thank you Alicia Keys for producing this wonderful song, it will always be part of my life.

One of the best covers of this song: The Voice




  1. I loved your take on this enjoyable and memorable song. I never realized the significance that lied in all of her metaphors to the “superficial” and it was cool that you distinguished them so early on. It was also super interesting to hear how exactly the song influenced you in your own life! It’s always cool to be connected to great music like that.

  2. I like Alicia Keys as well. This song is just so classy and so down to earth that I feel is so rare in today’s pop music. What happened after they called you back, did you go back? I really liked your connection, as it was 100% relevant and interesting to the song

  3. I really like Alicia Keys as an artist but this post made me think further on the meaning of the words. I also never had seen her album cover so that definitely expanded my view on the entire song, this post was really good!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s