“A Beautiful Noise” by Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile
“A Beautiful Noise” was designed for the specific purpose of encouraging Americans to cast their vote in the 2020 US Presidential Elections. But beyond that, it was also inspired by and meant to celebrate the women’s suffrage and civil rights’ movements. That is to say that there was a time in American history where both women and non-White races were not allowed to vote.
This reality changed, respectively, with legislation passed in 1919 (the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution) and 1965 (the Voting Rights Act of 1965). Well this song came out around the time of the 100th anniversary of the former and the 55th anniversary of the later. So its composers imbued the lyrics with such sentimental acknowledgements while simultaneously sticking to the intended thesis sentiment, as stated above.
“A Beautiful Noise” is a Protest Song?
And the product of all of the above comes off a lot like a protest song. The lyrics do not make mention of voting, women’s rights or civil rights. Instead, the vocalist(s) is depicted as someone who is, most simply implied, oppressed, with the addressee also being an individual in the same situation.
More to the point would be said narrator now being thoroughly fed up with suffering such a fate. And she indirectly recognizes that, from a physical standpoint, that she’s no match for her oppressors. But what she does have is a voice.
Or viewed alternatively, all because the vocalist has found herself in a less-than-ideal situation doesn’t mean that she has to passively accept things as they are. And so it goes with all of the other countless individuals sharing the same fate.
So what she is basically calling for is for them to band together in the name of change. And again, we know that more practically speaking what Brandi and Alicia are referring to is getting out to vote.
Now of course, the 2020 US Presidential Election was the one in which incumbent prez Donald Trump faced off against Joe Biden. At the time, it was sort of standard for music stars and entertainers in general to be anti-Trump. And to note, both Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile apparently possessed their respective issues with the Donald’s political leadership.
So yes, the stated purpose of this track may have been to encourage voter turnout in general. But we have to believe, all things considered, that the truly intended message, at that time, would have actually been ‘turn out and vote for Joe Biden’, with Trump himself sorta being viewed as a symbol of American oppression, so to speak.
But as stated earlier there are virtually no direct references made, thus giving “A Beautiful Noise” a general applicability. That would likely be why it has been nominated for a Grammy Award well after the 2020 Election itself.
And generally put forth, what this piece is most simply speaking to is taking a communal stand against human rights’ abuses, a notion which in and of itself has been very popular in the American mainstream during the early 2020s.
What Alicia and Brandi have said about “A Beautiful Noise”
In a 2020 interview, Alicia Keys shed more light on this song. According to her, we are all born with “the power to make a beautiful noise” and to use our voices to lift people up. She then encouraged Americans to let their voices be heard by going out and voting in the 2020 US presidential election.
As for Brandi Carlile, she referred to “A Beautiful Noise” as one that contains “a universal message of hope and empowerment”. Brandi believes that everyone’s voice counts.
Facts about “A Beautiful Noise”
Brandi Carlile and Alicia Keys are both American singers who also happen to have been born during the same year, 1981. And RCA Records alongside UMG released this track on 30 October 2020. The release happened a day after Alicia’s 39th birthday. So as of the writing of this post in late 2021, both of the songstresses are 40 years old.
This song also made its debut the day prior its official release, via a live performance on a program televised by CBS. The said show was entitled Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy.
Besides serving as vocalists, Alicia and Brandi also produced this track. And to note, all of the writers of “A Beautiful Noise” are likewise female. And they are:
- Ruby Amanfu
- Brandy Clark
- Hillary Lindsey
- Lori McKenna
- Linda Perry
- Hailey Whitters
Live Nation, a company that specializes in putting together major concerts, also played an important role in the creation of “A Beautiful Noise”.
This song went on to peak at number eight on Billboard’s US Digital Song Sales list. But it was much higher regarded by professional music critics.
This song marks Alicia’s first collaboration with Brandi Carlile, with official discographies respectively dating back to 2001 and 2004. According to Brandi, working with Alicia was not only a “dream” but also an “honor”.
The pair did promptly proceed to team up once again shortly after “A Beautiful Noise”. The said collaboration gave birth to a track entitled “Paper Flowers” from Alicia’s 2021 album, “Keys”.
“A Beautiful Noise” received a Song of the Year nomination at the 64th Annual Grammys. It was nominated in this category alongside these other songs:
- Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits”
- Brandi Carlile’s “Right on Time”
- Justin Bieber’s “Peaches”
- Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”
- Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open”
- Doja Cat and SZA’s “Kiss Me More”
- Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever”
- H.E.R.’s “Fight for You”
- Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License”