Idioms in Alicia Keys’s Songs

Alicia Keys is a truly talented singer-songwriter, who can not only send us love through her music but also teach us some English. So, in this article, let’s look at 15 very useful idioms from Alicia’s hits.

IDIOM: to have something in common

MEANING: to share something (e.g. characteristics, interests, opinions, etc.) with someone

FROM: “In Common” (2016)

EXAMPLES: 1. We got way too much in common (from the song) (way too much emphasizes how much the people have in common; you can also say “We got so much in common” or “We have (got) much in common”). 2. We don’t have anything in common, how can we be a couple?


IDIOM: to get high on one’s own supply 

MEANING: to get high means to achieve a state of mental euphoria /juːfɔːriə/, as from substance intoxication. Note that to get high also means to get happy, excited (I’m as high as a kite = I am very excited (or I am greatly affected be alcohol/drugs). To get high on one’s own supply is streetwise jargon:

If you’re a drug dealer, you shouldn’t take the drugs you’re dealing or you’ll become addicted yourself and stop making lots of money. You’re not supposed to get high on your own supply (of weed, coke, heroin, etc.) or you’ll lose focus of your goal: making money at the expense of others. (source)

FROM: “In Common” (2016)

EXAMPLE: Getting high on our supply, yeah, we ain’t satisfied (ain’t = are not) (from the song).

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: on fire

MEANING: very enthusiastic, passionate about something. If something is on fire, it is burning (e.g. the building is on fire).

FROM: “Girl on Fire” (2012)

EXAMPLES: She’s just a girl and she’s on fire (from the song). 2. Go on, ask me anything, I’m on fire.


IDIOM: to have one’s head in the clouds

MEANING: (disapproval) to ignore or be unaware of the problems associated with a situation

FROM: “Girl on Fire” (2012)

EXAMPLES: 1. She got her head in the clouds and she’s not backing down (from the song) (if you back down, you stop asking for something or stop saying that you will do something because many people oppose you). 2. You can’t see the world with your head in the clouds.


IDIOM: to have one’s feet on the ground

MEANING: to be practical, reliable, realistic

FROM: “Girl on Fire” (2012)

EXAMPLES: 1. We got our feet on the ground and we’re burning it down (from the song). (if you burn something down, you destroy it by fire). 2. She’s looking for a man who has his feet on the ground.


IDIOM: on top of the world

MEANING: extremely happy

FROM: “Girl on Fire” (2012)

EXAMPLES: 1. She’s on top of the world, hottest of the hottest girls (from he song). (hot means sexy here) 2. How do you feel? – On top of the world.

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: to make it

MEANING: to be successful

FROM: “Empire State of Mind” (part II) (2009)

EXAMPLES: 1. If I could make it here, I could make it anywhere (from the song). 2. I’m not sure I can make it, it’s way too difficult.


IDIOM: melting pot

MEANING: an area in which many races, ideas, etc. are mixed

FROM: “Empire State of Mind” (part II) (2009)

EXAMPLES: 1. Such a melting pot, on the corner selling rock preachers pray to God (from the song) (in this context, rock is the informal term for crack cocaine). 2. New York is certainly a melting pot.


IDIOM: gypsy cab 

MEANING: an unregistered taxi operating illegally in America

FROM: “Empire State of Mind” (part II) (2009)

EXAMPLES: 1. Hail a gypsy cab, (it) takes me down from Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge (from the song) (to hail a cab means to make a signal to a taxi so that it stops for you). 2. There’s money in your bag, go and hail a taxi.

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: through someone’s eyes

MEANING: to see or consider something from someone’s point of view

FROM: “Doesn’t Mean Anything” (2009)

EXAMPLES: 1. Now I see myself through different eyes, it’s no surprise (from the song) (it she sees herself the way someone sees her). 2. I’m trying to see things through your eyes.

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: to get to first base

MEANING: to kiss (this is a baseball metaphor; there is also second base, third base and home base, used to describe levels of physical intimacy; you can read more about the idioms here)

FROM: “Teenage Love Affair” (2007)

EXAMPLES: 1. Maybe we can go to first base because I feel you, second base – want you to feel me too, third base – better pump the breaks (from the song) (if you pump your breaks, you stop before doing something dumb). 2. We’ve got to first base!

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: to take something/someone for granted

MEANING: to fail to properly appreciate (someone or something)

FROM: “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” (2007)

EXAMPLES: 1. I don’t wanna (= want to) take for granted the time you may have here with me (from the song). 2. Don’t take your partner for granted.

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: to catch one’s eye

MEANING: to be noticed by someone

FROM: “You Don’t Know My Name” (2003)

EXAMPLES: 1. I really really want to catch your eye (from the song). 2. Your new dress has caught my eye. Where did you buy it?

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: what goes around comes around

MEANING: one’s actions or behavior will eventually have consequences for one. The phrase typically refers to one being a victim of the same negative circumstances that they have inflicted on others.

FROM: “Karma” (2003)

EXAMPLES: 1. What goes around comes around, what goes up must come down (things that rise also fall; everything changes, and if something is increasing or rising, it will eventually decrease or fall). 2. You hurt me then, but what goes around comes around. Now you know how I felt.

The lyrics are here.


IDIOM: blue

MEANING: sad, depressed

FROM: “Fallin'” (2001)

EXAMPLES: 1. Sometimes I love you, sometimes you make me blue (from the song). 2. I’m feeling blue.

The lyrics are here.

Do you have questions about these and other idioms in Alicia Keys’s songs? Leave you comment below and we’ll be happy to help!

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