When Aretha Franklin set out to create what would become her final album, initial reports stated she was covering Alicia Keys’ debut single “Fallin’”. What a treat it would have been to hear here take on the song that launched Keys’ career, and numerous Aretha comparisons. While Aretha’s “Fallin’” may or may not be sitting in on a hard drive somewhere, Aretha opted to include a different Alicia Keys cut on Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics. She chose to record “No One”, another massive hit for Alicia. As expected, Aretha gave the smash her own unique spin.
At the suggestion of Alicia herself, Aretha gave the song a Caribbean makeover. The island arrangement turns the hard-hitting R&B cut into a breezy mid-tempo. And while the arrangement does favor a less demanding lead vocal, it certainly doesn’t sacrifice numerous opportunities for Aretha to vocally show up and show out.
This wasn’t the first time Aretha covered Alicia’s now-classic cut, either. Back on July 25, 2008, Aretha performed an arrangement closer to the original in Atlantic City with her granddaughter Victorie. The performance marked young Victorie’s first live performance on stage with her grandmother. Aretha backs up her granddaughter throughout, echoing her lines and giving her support, even at one point coaching her to “sing strong”. It’s an undeniably warm and fuzzy family moment.
Listen to that live audio here:
Stream Aretha’s island-makeover of “No One” here: