By Rob Markman
The track, released on Monday (September 3), is the title track to Keys’ upcoming fifth studio album and will arrive in a two-part musical suite: “Girl on Fire (Blue Light)” and the “Girl on Fire (Inferno)” version, which she dropped today.
Marked by a distinct drum track derived from rocker Billy Squire’s 1980 breakbeat classic “The Big Beat,” Alicia’s “Girl on Fire” opens with a few haunting bars from Nicki. “Spirit of Marilyn callin’ me, audibly/ Ballin’ she/ Said that she would never leave/ Continue to torture me,” Ms. Minaj eerily spits of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.
Still, the YMCMB rap queen pledges to avoid all of the drug-induced pitfalls of fame before Alicia toasts the wins of women everywhere belting out, “She’s just a girl and she’s on fire,” with her calming-yet-commanding wail.
The pulsating cut falls right in line with other high-powered Alicia ballads like “No One” and “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart” by mixing a booming hip-hop bottom with her out-of-this-world vocal delivery. “She’s got both feet on the ground and she’s burning it down,” Keys bellows before the chorus sets in.
Minaj returns for a second verse, this time whispering her rhymes, while praying to God to help guide her in the right direction. To end it all, Alicia brings it all home with a harmonic close … or is it just the beginning? No one is quite sure what A. Keys will perform at the 2012 VMAs. The singer has promised to debut a brand-new song on music’s big night, just as she did back in 2007 when she performed “No One” for the first time ever.
“Debuting a new song at the VMAs is definitely special. I debuted ’No One’ at the VMAs — it was the first time anyone in the world heard ’No One,’ Keys said. “It’s the perfect setting. It’s the right energy. It’s the right vibe. People are so excited about the night of music and hearing different styles that it just goes over really well. I can’t wait!”
The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards are set to go live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT. But before it all goes down, don’t miss our “Jersey Shore” special “Gym, Tan, Look Back” at 6 p.m. and our pre-show with Demi Lovato at 7 p.m.! And head over to VMA.MTV.com to vote on Best New Artist and Most Share-Worthy Video!