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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Diary of Alicia Keys
The Diary of Alicia Keys
Eagle Vision // Unrated // November 16, 2004
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Crichton | posted December 1, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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"Who is Alicia Keys? That is a really, really big question. Because I think that there's really no answer to that." -Alicia Keys.

Apparently, Alicia was setting us up for what was to be 82 long minutes that wouldn't even come close to providing us hints as to who "Alicia Keys" is. Personally, I always thought a diary was something personal - a book that one kept to discuss their thoughts, their dreams, their feelings. It seems Alicia took the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition, "A record of events, transactions, or observations kept daily or at frequent intervals long", a little too literal with this DVD release.

My initial exposure to Alicia dates back to 1996. Working at a "ghetto" mom 'n pop record store, we would frequently receive promotional CDs for "in-store play" from our distributor. One of the discs, "Various Artists from 12 Soulful Nights Of Christmas", featured three R&B artists - Trey Lorenz [former backing singer for Mariah Carey], Jagged Edge and...Alicia Keys. I didn't know much about her, but I do recall seeing her perform her song "Little Drummer Girl" on BET...and that was the last i'd ever heard of her.

Flash forward to 2001. Alicia signs with Clive Davis' new record company, "J Records" and drops her debut album "Songs In A Minor". The pre-release hype was ridiculous and, with Clive pimpin' her out at every opportunity, it paid off: the album debuted at number one and sales were in the millions. 

Alicia is routinely hailed as the second coming for R&B music.

Flash forward to 2003. Alicia drops her sophomore disc "the Diary Of Alicia Keys". Since downloading/file sharing has become more of a problem for the recording industry, they're constantly trying to think of new an innovative ways to entice listeners to actually pay for an album, rather than downloading it. For the initial pressing of her disc, J Records includes a DVD titled "the Diary". Thirty-five minutes in length, it features Alicia talking, about her origins, her videos, performing live, her trip to South Africa, her feelings about her sophomore album and what she hopes is in store for her future.

Before you start saying "Thanks for the trip down memory lane, however, I thought this review was for "the Diary Of Alicia Keys"? Why are you talking about a bonus DVD that was packaged with her CD?" First of all, it's really not healthy to talk to yourself [regardless if you're directing it towards your monitor or not]. Anyways, it's relevant since the majority of that material on the bonus disc is found on the new release too!

Divided into fourteen chapters, the new material is more handheld camcorder footage of Alicia as she tours. Some of the interview material found on the initial DVD is slightly expanded upon here, and listening to her, at times it sounds as if she's started to believe her own hype. However, this is solely my opinion. We're also treated to a segment documenting the various fights during the tour; both between band members and members of the audience. I'm not sure if this "documentary" was intended this to be similar to Madonna's "Truth Or Dare" or Janet's various video compilations that feature interaction between the artists and their dancers. In the aforementioned features, a sense of "family" is conveyed that is missing from Alicia's disc. In the end, Alicia treats her band members like mere hired hands. In fact, during what small performance footage is shown, some of the dancers have their faces blurred [similar to what MTV frequently does to logos in most music videos].

Since i'm a fan of hers, I already own the first DVD. When I heard about this one, I assumed that it would be a documentary on her life and so on. I was wrong. I was hoping for a "Behind the Music"-type documentary [minus the sex and drugs], and I have to say I was sorely disappointed. This feature was similar to a celebrity Travel Channel special and during one segment, as she's showing us around her latest hotel room in the Sudan, she tells us it's her "version of "MTV Cribs". Alicia, dear, I wanted to hear about YOU. NOT your hotel room. NOT your band. Watching someone's home movies really isn't my idea of entertainment [Paris Hilton, notwithstanding]. Where Alicia came from, how she was raised, how she finally got into the industry, her influences...all these things would interest me. None are to be found on the disc. However, we are treated to celebrity testimonials from such noted luminaries such as Jermaine Dupri and Rodney Jerkins, so at least there's that. In fact, after watching this disc, I had a feeling Alicia was mocking me in front of a golden statue for sitting through the entire thing. Don't know why.

Video: The video for "the Diary Of Alicia Keys" was sharp, as most well-lit features shot on video are, and the colors were sharp and vibrant while the blacks were deep with no sign of pixelation. It's presented in a full-frame 1.33:1 ratio. 

Audio: Since there are no musical performances, just clips of Alicia at work and play, the sound doesn't need to be spectacular. It's not. However, it's adequate. 

Supplements: Umm...do French or Spanish subtitles count? Because, other than those, there's nothing on here. It's a shame, since she's made a number of videos that could've been included to make this DVD actually worth purchasing. Perhaps for a later release?

Conclusion: If I didn't know any better [and if it wasn't an "official" release], it'd be possible for me to assume that this was one of those "unauthorized" DVDs that occasionally find their way onto the shelves. You know the ones i'm talking about. If you're a fan of Alicia's, and you didn't get the initial "bonus" disc, you're probably going to ignore what you've just read and get it anyway. If you're not a fan of Alicia's, this disc won't bring you any closer to becoming one. Skip It.

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