“Fallin’” by Alicia Keys
The lyrics of this song are simple enough. They focus on the vocalist’s topsy-turvy feelings for the addressee. That is to say that she has the tendency to perpetually “(fall) in and out of love” with him. And that’s apparently because he too has the habit of treating her well at times and at others not so good. And during the terse narrative, Alicia also reveals that this person she is singing to is her first love.
Indeed it was Keys’ real-life first love which inspired the sentiments behind Fallin’. She penned the tune in her mid-teens, which is in fact around the time most people start to dabble in the field of romance. But she further explained that the narrative was influenced by her unfailing love for her mother.
In other words, regardless of whatever mom may do to piss her off, nothing can destroy Alicia’s affection for her. And that’s sort of the implied sentiment of the overall piece as well. Or put differently, the fact that the singer is caught up in this on-again/off-again emotional cycle with her lover implies that she’s in it for the long haul in the first place.
Chris Robinson was responsible for directing this song’s music video. It was inspired by the story of one Santra Rucker. Santra gained fame for refusing to cooperate with authorities in convicting her drug-dealing boyfriend and as a result was slapped with 13 life sentences. She was reportedly freed or is scheduled to be in 2020, after serving 20 years.
Release and Success
“Fallin’”, which was released on 2 April 2001, was actually the first single Alicia Keys ever dropped. And it proved to be one of those kinds of successes where even now, some 20 years later, it is considered to be her signature song, even though she’s had an outstanding career along the way.
For instance, this track scored a number one on three Billboard charts as well as the Hot 100 itself and ultimately went double-platinum in the United States. It also reached the pinnacle of the UK R&B Chart and a peak position of number three on the UK Singles Chart.
Then outside of Anglo-America it appeared on music rankings in 20 other nations, including scoring additional number ones in Belgium, the Netherlands and New Zealand. And it also went platinum in almost 10 different countries.
Additionally it accomplished a rare feat for a debut single – or any song for that matter – by winning three Grammy Awards in 2002. Those were in the categories below:
- Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
- Best R&B Song
- Song of the Year
And to note, it was also nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy (with that one eventually going to a track by U2 entitled “Walk On”).
Writing Credits for “Fallin'”
This song was written as well as produced by Alicia Keys. She began putting “Fallin’” together when she was 16 and a signee of Columbia Records. However, the label it was ultimately dropped under was J Records, which itself was new on the scene in 2001.
Alicia noted that when she wrote this song, she had someone “like a young Michael Jackson” in mind. And verily, some of the notes are reminiscent of certain tunes from the King of Pop’s earlier days.
More Facts about “Fallin'”
This track was featured on a 2002 episode of Friends known as “The One With the Birthing Video”. And it was so highly regarded that, out of the innumerable songs featured on the sitcom throughout its 10-year tenure, that it was one of the select few to be featured on a 2005 compilation album entitled Friends: The Ultimate Soundtrack.
It also made an appearance on a 2004 episode of Sesame Street, though a modified version of the song which is instead entitled “Dancin”. And Alicia performed it alongside the ever-lovable children’s character Elmo.
“Fallin’” was so popular amongst contestants of American Idol that Simon Cowell ended up banning contestants from performing it.
Legendary music exec Clive Davis was instrumental in promoting this song. For instance, it was he who paved the way for Alicia to perform “Fallin'” on the Oprah Show just prior to the release of “Songs in A Minor”, the album it is featured on.
And he also pushed it during the early goings, when radio stations were reluctant to play it. Additionally, he helped introduce it to people in the industry via a personal Grammy party he held. This ultimately gave Alicia the opportunity to perform it on another influential television program, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in 2001.