Alicia Keys Performs ‘Empire State of Mind’ and New Song ‘Lala’ at the MTV VMAs
Alicia Keys brought New York back to an “Empire State of Mind” with her performance at the MTV VMAs on Sunday night along with her new song “Lala (Unlocked).” It was an appropriate song choice, considering the awards were held at the famous Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The short rendition followed the first live showing of Keys’ latest song, “Lala,” with Swae Lee.
Keys performed her famous tribute to New York just one day after the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In the 2009 single, Keys is a featured singer alongside Jay-Z. The two performed the song at the 2009 VMAs and were met with the same excitement.
But on Sunday night, she flew solo and blew the (remote) audiences away with her performance. True to her style as an artist, Keys played the piano as her voice did the song (and city) justice.
“I want you to help me celebrate,” Keys told the crowd before singing. “The magic and strength of this beautiful city.”
But this wasn’t the only performance from Keys. Before her solo rendition, She and Swae Lee (half of the hip hop duo Rae Stremmurd) performed their new single “Lala (Unlocked),” which dropped earlier this week.
After hinting at the single’s release all week, we finally got new music and a performance from the singer. “Lala” is the first of new music from Keys since her 2020 album Alicia.
“This song is the beginning of a world you’ll never want to leave,” Keys wrote on Instagram.
The sultry new track – produced by Keys and Mike WiLL Made-It – is a sexy story told by a grammy-winning duo. Swae Lee featured on the single, sings, “Light the incense/ Not to mention/ Skin like whiskey/ She’s cold like on the rocks.”
“I love Swae. Swae is such a bright energy. He’s the real deal. He’s so authentic and for real,” Keys told Apple Music about their collaboration. “It’s so unexpected because you might see Swae featured on my record, and you might expect something, or you might not expect something. I’m not sure what people expect, but what I love about it is I personally feel like you never heard Swae like this before.”
She’s right about that since we can’t stop listening. Key’s double performance marked her return to the VMAs stage since 2012. While she may not have been up for any awards, Keys took to the stage like a pro and celebrated the music for what it is. Isn’t that what the VMAs are about, after all?
Writer | @IlanaDavis24