The 10 best moments of John Legend and Alicia Keys’ Juneteenth Verzuz showdown


At a time of civil unrest across the country, Alicia Keys and John Legend’s Verzuz event was a healing balm. For more than two hours, the pair played their biggest hits (20 each), including their songs and solo features. Sometimes Keys sat in front of a fuschia piano while Legend sat behind a black piano. Other times, the pair stood up and danced along their hit songs, singing on the recordings.

In addition to playing their biggest hits, Legend and Keys have also performed their new singles. Over 150,000 people watched the event on Instagram Live at its peak. The Juneteenth-themed event – the last in the Verzuz series created by Timbaland and Keys’ husband Swizz Beatz – was also the first in the series to air on Apple TV.

Instagram Live events, which started as a battle between producers and songwriters, have sometimes turned into a much-needed celebration in the midst of a global pandemic and recent protests against police brutality. Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond were the last artists to participate in the event.

Here were Billboardten favorite moments from the event.

1. Keys and Legend kicked off the event live with a performance of “Redemption Song”. The theme of emancipation, Bob Marley and the song of the Wailers – which the two artists have interpreted live in the past – was a much-needed nod to the celebration of the Juneteenth and the racial uprising that is currently taking place in all the country. The powerful performance helped set the tone for the rest of the event as one of unity, not competition.

2. John Legend talked about working with Lauryn Hill during his university studies. Introduced by a mutual friend when he was 19 at Penn, Legend met Hill while she was working on her solo album Lauryn Hill’s Education. After playing a few songs for the singer (including “Love’s in Need of Love Today” by Stevie Wonder), Legend was invited to play the piano on “Everything Is Everything” (1998). “It was my claim to fame in school,” Legend recalled.

3. Alicia Keys also mentioned a career first. Before playing the smash of Eve “Gangsta Lovin” in 2002, of which she is the star singer, Keys remembered being in a “big studio” for the first time – noting that she had recorded her first album Songs in A minor at home.

4. The two artists gave frightening performances of signature hits. Legend did not use the backing track when performing the first verse and chorus of the popular wedding ballad “So High” (2004), which appeared on his first album. Get lifted. He also sang his first Hot 100 hit in the top 40, “Ordinary People” (2004), in acoustics. “The day I knew I was famous [was in] 2005, “The legend explained. “[‘Ordinary People’] had been out for a while and I got a call from two people I had been watching for a while. [It was] Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson. The same day. “

For her part, Alicia Keys delivered beautiful performances of “Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” (2009), “If I Ain’t Got You” (2003) and her first single “Fallin” “(2001 ). When she performed an extract from “Un-Thinkable” (2009), Legend accompanied her with a few melodies. “This is one of my favorite songs from Alicia Keys,” he said.

5. John Legend showed his dance moves. The singer came from behind his piano to give two times to songs such as “They Say” by Common (2005) and “Heaven Only Knows” (2006). A few days before Father’s Day, he delivered hilarious and healthy dance moves – with woman Chrissy Teigen joking he was going to split his pants in the process.

6. A very special guest appeared in the comments. After being informed that Michelle Obama was leaving comments during the Live, Alicia Keys dedicated one of her previous singles, “A Woman’s Worth” (2002), to the former First Lady and the other women who were watching.

7. They reminded us of their most famous features. “Excuse my tongue, mom,” said John Legend of the Kanye West (2010) “Blame Game” on which it is presented. From “Ghetto Story” by Bam Cham (2006) to “Selfish” by Slum Village (2004), Keys and Legend reminded the public of their best collaborations.

8. The two drank champagne while listening to “Magnificent” by Rick Ross. “Happy Juneteenth,” said Alicia Keys as the pair toasted viewers while listening to the legend-assisted single. The hook of the song rightly mentions the “champagne tasting”.

9. John Legend reminded fans that he co-wrote Estelle’s “American Boy”. The singer made sure we knew that his appearance in Estelle’s crossover video was not random. He co-wrote the British singer’s single at the 2008 Grammy Awards alongside Kanye West and, among others. ” [It’s] one of the greatest hits I have ever written, “he said.

10. Keys revisited his famous phone call from the video “You don’t know my name” while John Legend sang in the background. It was an incredible recreation of the 2003 song’s immortalized monologue, which Keys said she decided to do with the help of song co-author Kanye West. The same day, Keys and West started to write “You don’t know my name”, they also started to write the song which would become “Unbreakable” (2005).

Here is the full list of songs the pair played during the Instagram Live event:

Round 1: Baby Cham feat. Alicia Keys, “Ghetto Story” / Lauryn Hill, “Everything is everything” (Legend on the piano)

2nd round: Alicia Keys, “Underdog” / Slum Village feat. Kanye West & John Legend, “selfish”

Round 3: Alicia Keys, “Karma” / John Legend, “Prelude” / “Used to love you”

Round 4: Eve feat. Alicia Keys, “Gangsta Lovin” “/ John Legend, “So High”

Round 5: Usher and Alicia Keys, “My Boo” / John Legend, “Ordinary People”

Round 6: Alicia Keys, “Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” / Common achievement. Kanye West & John Legend, “They say”

Round 7: Alicia Keys, “Teenage Love Affair” / John Legend, “Heaven”

Round 8: Alicia Keys, “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” / John Legend, “Another Again”

Round 9: Alicia Keys, “If I Didn’t Get You” / John Legend, “This time”

Round 10: Alicia Keys, “Try to sleep with a broken heart” / John Legend, “Tonight (the best you’ve ever had)”

Round 11: Alicia Keys, “The Value of a Woman” / John Legend and The Roots feat. Common & Melanie Fiona, “Wake up everyone”

Round 12: Alicia Keys feat. Tony! Toni! Toné !, “Diary” / Kanye West feat. John Legend, “Blame Game”

Round 13: Alicia Keys, “As if you would never see me again” / Rick Ross feat. John Legend, “Magnificent”

Round 14: Alicia Keys, “Superwoman” / Estelle feat. Kanye West, “American Boy” (John Legend co-authored)

Round 15: Alicia Keys, “You don’t know my name” / Rick Ross feat. John Legend, “Rich Forever”

Round 16: Alicia Keys, “Unbreakable” / John Legend feat. Andre 3000, “Green light”

Round 17: Alicia Keys, “In common” / John Legend feat. Jhené Aiko, “U Move, I Move”

Round 18: Alicia Keys – Girl on fire »/ John Legend, “All of me”

Round 19: Alicia Keys, “Fallin” “/ DJ Khaled feat. John Legend and Nipsey Hussle, “Higher”

Round 20: Alicia Keys, “No One” / Common & John Legend, “Glory”

Bonus Round: Alicia Keys, “Perfect Way to Die” / John Legend, “Never Break”


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