Many know that Alicia Keys is a great singer, but she surprised her fans when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to do impressions of Adele, Gwen Stefani, and Janis Joplin.
Alicia wowed audiences when she effortlessly belted out to nursery rhymes while imitating some of the most recognizable voices in the music industry. The impressions were part of The Tonight Show’s regular segment, “Wheel of Musical Impressions.”
The segment is basically a game where the guest and host take turns doing impressions of popular singers. The guest always goes first —in this case, Alicia Keys. After she presses a button, the titular “wheel” will select a random pairing of song and artist.
On her first try, Keys got a pairing of Gwen Stefani and the song “Miss Mary Mack.” As noted by Billboard, Alicia did the impression well by first laying down Stefani’s “signature vocal rifts,” and then finishing it with the recognizable chorus from Stefani’s 2004 hit, “Hollaback Girl.” It did help that house band The Roots captured No Doubt’s punk-ska vibe in their accompanying instrumentals.
Jimmy Fallon did not have much luck with his impressions. On his first turn, the wheel tasked him to do an impression of The Pointer Sisters, to the tune of the “State Farm” jingle. The pairing caught the host off-guard, and the way he started was not so impressive.
However, Fallon quickly recovered when he decided to sing in a lower register; presumably channeling Ruth Pointer. Jimmy’s impression of the 1984 hit “Automatic” got Alicia Keys laughing in her seat.
Second round for Alicia turned out to be a great fit. The wheel asked her to do an Adele impression of “The Alphabet Song.” Keys started her performance with wide open hand gestures that are reminiscent of the English songstress’ live performances.
She then proceeded to sing “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…” with the syllables perfectly fitting Adele’s 2015 hit “Hello.” Alicia even got to the second round of the chorus where she sang “Now I know my ABC’s” instead of “Hello from the other side,” and Jimmy Fallon cannot stop laughing.
The game of impressions went on, and Fallon next sang an Elvis Presley rendition of the “Meow Mix” jingle.
However, this was quickly overshadowed by Alicia Keys’ final performance, wherein she was tasked to do a Janis Joplin impression. She was assigned the very popular “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” but Keys spiced it up by singing to the spirit of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart.”
It worked too well, and host Jimmy Fallon can only say that “You cannot top that!”
Aside from the impressions, Fallon also asked Keys about a lot of other things. One interesting talking point, in particular, is about how Alicia got permission to cover Prince’s 1982 song “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore.”
She admitted that she did not know she had to ask for the late singer’s approval to put a cover of his song in her debut studio album, Songs In A Minor.
“At the time, I didn’t realize that you had to actually… clear the song,” Alicia said.
“Like, you have to ask permission, right? Which I now get.”
She further shared how she was star-struck by the whole idea of talking to Prince about the cover. It did not help that she had to be put on hold eight times before finally getting to speak with the legend. Although, one can tell from Keys’ reaction that it was a wonderful experience.
As Variety puts it, it is difficult to mirror the most powerful voices in the music industry. Still, Alicia Keys pulled the impressions off without a sweat, and clearly, she proves she herself has a powerful voice that can hold its own.
[Featured Image by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images]