- Alicia Keys
Slicker, hipper cats (still) prefer Aaliyah. But while Keys is undoubtedly in big-bucks/corporate-megaproduct mode, she still milks golden moments from the overproduced neo-soul racket surrounding her. "A Woman's Worth" oozes girl power without kicking you in the groin with it. "Girlfriend" and "Fallin'" dish the kind of instant radio hits modern-day Michael Jackson wouldn't recognize if they, uh, kicked him in the groin.
But look to A Minor's second half for true Alicia insight, when all the producers go home and Keys unveils the "Never Felt This Way"/"Butterflyz" suite, a great lounge piano/vocal epic that ditches the hype and offers hope that our heroine will buck the trends and avoid the looniness. Hands off, Bobby Brown.