In Common

Album: Here (2016)
Charted: 89 104
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  • This Latin-infused dance track begins with a sultry-voiced Alicia Keys lingering in bed with her lover. However as the song proceeds, we learn of her angst as she questions the dysfunctional relationship.

    Who wants to love somebody like me?
    You wanna love somebody like me?
    If you could love somebody like me
    You must be messed up too

    Keys said of the song: "We all have our issues, our challenges. We are all kind of messed up and that's all right. In fact, that's what helps us understand each other. To me, that is what's so beautiful."
  • Alicia Keys wrote the song with:

    The Weeknd's long-term collaborator, DJ Carlo "Illangelo" Montagnese, who also produced the track. The Canadian producer helmed the entirety of The Weeknd's Trilogy of mixtapes and several of his Beauty Behind The Madness tracks including the hit single "The Hills."

    American actress and singer-songwriter Taylor Parks, whose other credits include Fifth Harmony's "Bo$$," Mariah Carey's "Infinity" and Ariana Grande's "My Everything." She is best known as an actress for her role as Little Inez in the 2007 film Hairspray.

    Newcomer Billy Walsh who works with Illangelo.
  • Keys projects a serene confidence, which is why it was surprising when she sang about being "messed up" on this track. "I definitely did get caught up in this realm of wanting to appear so perfected and so un-messy and so contained, and so that it was a little bit detrimental to the ability to just be whoever you are, whoever I am, fully," she told NPR. "That's what 'In Common' is about for me and also it's about love and it's also about finding those who can accept you for who you are. And that's the truth of love right there: somebody who can accept all your flaws and all your messiness and all your stuff and be like, 'That's cool because I've got my own so I hope you can hang with mine because I'm going to hang with yours.'"
  • This was released as the lead single from Alicia Keys' sixth album. She told The Line Of Best Fit how she connected with Illangelo and Billy Walsh when writing for the record: "We started to have a whole other kind of ill conversations that was also in the spirit of that same place the whole album has been in the spirit of," she said. "It's really like poetry and street language and honesty, and wrongness, and humanity and what we're going through."
  • Keys performed the song for the first time at Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2016.
  • The Pierre Debusschere-directed black-and-white video finds a bare-faced Keys singing by a fire escape as a group of diverse men and women of all ages express themselves by flexing, shaking and interacting with each other. By the end, the whole thing erupts into one huge block party.

    Keys said, "This video is about celebrating our individuality, and how in the brilliance of our uniqueness, the magic of it all is at the core, we are all the same. We want the same things. We all want to experience love, the freedom to be our truest selves, to love whomever we want and to be accepted and celebrated for all of our nuances and so called imperfections that make us, us."
  • Alicia Keys explained the track's meaning to NME: "That song sums up the theme of how we are all on or journeys and trying to figure out who we are, which presents a lot whole of problems and challenges," she said. "We're all messed up in our own separate ways with things we're trying to get through. There's something really liberating about being able to say, 'I got my mess, you got your mess - and that's all right.'"
  • The song's smooth tropical sound is quite a departure for Keys. She said: "I love that it has that tropical house thing happening. I love that people are surprised that it's me. It's fresh; it's new. Sonically it's progressive but it's very understandable and relatable. I love it."
  • Alicia Keys performed this for the first time on TV during an appearance on Saturday Night Live. The singer stood behind the piano to sing the tropical ballad during the show's May 7, 2016 episode.
  • The track has been compared with Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," which has been adopted as the unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

    "I love that song – it's one of my favorites, Kendrick is what it's all about," she told Fact Magazine. "The message on 'In Common' is kinda the same. We're all living under a strain, dealing with division. The question is, are we gonna get to a place where we can love each other despite our differences? You are what you are, you live where you live, you look how you look, you believe in what you believe, whatever! When are we gonna move past these very trivial things that just don't have anything to do with who we are as human beings and shouldn't be reasons for divisions between us? Be who you are! Be an individual, be who you are, where you're from! You should be allowed to not be judged for it, not be hated for it. Not be killed for it."
  • The artwork for the single is a shot of Keys without makeup, which led to her joining the #nomakeup movement. It was taken by the photographer Paola, who convinced the singer that even though she had just come from the gym, it was the right look. Describing the shoot in the Lenny Letter, Keys wrote: "It was just a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately relating, me and that baseball hat and scarf and a bunch of invisible magic circulating. And I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt."

    Keys decided that the look was right for her, and began making public appearances - including as a host on The Voice - without makeup. She also kept the makeup off for the video.


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