Alicia Keys has gone from “Underdog” to “Girl on Fire”. Over the weekend, the Grammy award-winning artist just unleashed her seventh studio album, simply titled “Alicia”, and is heavy on the promo trail for the latest effort. The album, originally scheduled for release earlier this spring, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Keys released a few singles from the album in the meantime, one being “Underdog”, and she’s recently sat down with The Guardian to give a breakdown of some of the songs and shared some very personal truths during the interview.
The song, co-written by English singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, features lyrics that speak on overcoming obstacles and rising above difficult situations. Sheeran and Keys joined together to write, “They said I would never make it/ But I was built to break the mold/ The only dream that I’ve been chasing is my own/ So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop/ Single mothers waiting on a check to come/ Young teachers, student doctors/ Sons on the frontline knowing they don’t get to run/ This goes out to the underdog/ Keep on keeping at what you love/ You’ll find that someday soon enough/ You will rise up, rise up, yeah.”
The “Show Me Love” singer had this to say on the single and accompanying visual when speaking with publication Rolling Stone. “Some people may think of the word underdog as a negative word, but I see it as a powerful word representing people who may be underestimated and yet still rise to the challenge and exceed expectations.” Keys continued the statement saying, “I love this song so much because it’s about real life and real people and our experiences. We’ve all been in a place in our lives where we’ve had to defy the odds. It’s never easy. One of my favorite lyrics in the song is, ‘They say I would never make it but I was built to break the mold.’ I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that hasn’t felt that way.”
Now the wife and mother of two, has gotten a bit more candid in regards to the song and her life. “I am that person [the underdog],” she explains. “The one that wasn’t supposed to make it out of Hell’s Kitchen, who was supposed to end up being a prostitute, a young mother at 16 years old, or addicted to drugs. I am the one who was supposed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and got injured or killed.
“And what the f**k is a dream?” the singer continued. “A dream is a luxury if you have to pay all these bills and put food on the table for your kids. That is why I understand so much about what it means to have the strength to follow your own path. All the songs I’ve ever written that have been considered empowering or uplifting, I’ve written them at my lowest point. Because I needed to remind myself: don’t forget that.”