Underdog

Album: Alicia (2020)
Charted: 69

Songfacts®:

  • Here, Alicia Keys highlights the everyday struggles of the "underdog." Whether it's "hustlers trading at the bus stop" or "single mothers waiting on a check to come," Keys looks to empower the overlooked and underestimated.
  • Alicia Keys grew up with her single mother in Hell's Kitchen, a poor section of New York City's Manhattan borough. During the song's pre-chorus, Keys talks about how she refused to let her circumstances prevent her from achieving her goals.

    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


    Keys hopes her story of defying the odds will inspire others to pursue their passions too.

    "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," said the singing star in a press release. "I love this song so much because it's about real life and real people and our experiences."
  • Alicia Keys co-wrote the song with Ed Sheeran and co-wrote and co-produced it with Snow Patrol guitarist Johnny McDaid. Keys told The Sun newspaper that she enjoys collaborating with McDaid, who has also co-written tracks for the likes of Pink and Robbie Williams.

    "I love writing with Johnny. He is a very special person to write with. He's actually more a therapist than a songwriter. He's really about listening and starting this conversation that allows us to talk about the truth and the heart of the matter. From there we find ourselves stumbling on titles or melodies or stumbling on concepts or thoughts.

    He has a lot of that and so it ends up coming to these very personal, very private, very vulnerable, very honest places. And so that's kind of where 'Underdog' came from."
  • Keys performed this with Brittany Howard at the Grammy Awards in 2020. Keys hosted the show for the second straight year.
  • Alicia Keys played this from her living room in Los Angeles to kick off the the "iHeartRadio Living Room Concert For America" on March 29, 2020. The benefit concert was held during the coronavirus outbreak to raise money for the charities Feeding America and the First Responders Children's Foundation. "This song is like a prayer," Keys said, before dedicating the song to the first responders and medical professionals who were in harm's way during the crisis.

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