Alicia Keys Reveals Christina Aguilera Was Supposed to Have 1 of Her Biggest Songs
Alicia Keys may be mostly known as a singer, but she’s also an immensely talented songwriter. Over the years, the “Empire State of Mind” crooner has penned songs for some of your favorite artists — from Whitney Houston to Jennifer Hudson. Recently, she revealed that one of her biggest songs was actually supposed to be for Christina Aguilera, until she ultimately decided to keep it for herself.
‘If I Ain’t Got You’ was supposed to be for Christina Aguilera
Alicia Keys opened up in an interview with The Guardian that was published on Sept. 18. She had been talking about some of the songs she’s released over the years when she was asked about her 2003 Grammy-winning hit “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Keys revealed that the song was influenced by the death of Grammy-nominated singer Aaliyah, who perished in a plane crash in August 2001 along with eight others. “I was so devastated that she died – it felt so unfair and abrupt,” she said, noting that the idea for the song “poured out” on a plane after she learned of Aaliyah’s death.
Going on, she told Stereogum that around the same time she penned the song, Christina Aguilera reached out to see if she could write something for her.
I think we were on the same label at the time. She reached out and was like, ‘Would you write something for me?’ And then it came through so many emails. What a voice! I know I could write something fire for her. So time passed and I hadn’t written the song yet. And [the label] was like, “Do you have anything for Christina?’ I remember I had just recently written ‘If I Ain’t Got You.’
Keys admitted that she was game to give the song to Aguilera but was later discouraged when she brought the idea to an A&R.
“He said, ‘Are you f*cking crazy? We’re not giving her that song. Are you out your mind?’” she recalled, laughing. “I was like, ‘Why not? I’ll write a hundred more of those, it’s fine. I think she should hear it. I don’t really think it’s a big deal.’ But I thought, ‘Fine, I’ll go write another song.’”
Alicia Keys went on to write another song for Christina Aguilera
Ultimately, Keys kept “If I Ain’t Got You” for her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003). But she did wind up writing a song for Aguilera: 2002’s “Impossible” from her fourth studio album, Stripped, which featured hits like “Dirrty” and “Beautiful.”
“I went off and wrote ‘Impossible.’ I went to cut it with her and I love how she sounded on it. It was such a cool vibe for us to be able to work together during those times. But I will never forget that I would have given away ‘If I Ain’t Got You,’ Keys continued.
Alicia Keys has new music out now
Her revelation about the song comes amid a press tour for her seventh studio album Alicia. Released on Sept. 18, the album features songs such as “Show Me Love” and “Time Machine” and has received generally positive reviews so far. Fans can find it on streaming services now.