Yet Keys has performed admirably in the middle of a hurricane that is about far more than her acclaimed debut record, the rich, accomplished Songs in A Minor. Mostly that's meant saying intelligent things when asked stupid questions and letting her music do the talking for her. To wit, Keys has played a remarkable number of live shows since her album hit last summer, making the crucial time to hone her craft rather than recline into her still-impressive SoundScan figures--a rare treat for fans of live R&B hardened to the reality of most major-label promotional campaigns. And that's exactly why Keys will outlive the hype around her, however well-meaning it may be: Hype is by nature an ephemeral phenomenon, attracted to lightning in a bottle--the kind that only strikes once.
Keys, who on Songs righteously tackles "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?" by the ultimate long-distance runner, Prince, is more like the bottle than the lightning: a tireless, hard-working body dedicated to delivering truly fascinating work again and again. What a shame that in their quest to package their miracle all the rabid stargazers have missed how special she really is.