The Element of Freedom

Music review by
Jacqueline Rupp, Common Sense Media
The Element of Freedom Music Poster Image
Another standout (and kid-safe) LP from soulful singer.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

There are several songs that present positive messages about sticking by your beliefs and not giving up on your dreams. "Wait 'til You See My Smile" is a song about not letting other people get in the way of your aspirations, and "Distance and Time" speaks to being faithful and enduring tough times, but finding your way through.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Keys offers up a strong female image on a few songs, with her taking the lead in relationships and demanding to be treated well: "You give me a feeling that I never felt before, and I deserve it, I know I deserve it." Other times her whole world revolves around a love affair and the acceptance of a man: "When you're gone it feels like my whole world's gone with you."


Several songs talk about touching, wanting, and feeling someone, and the most explicit lyrics might be: "wishing we could do it, do it right...this bed is too lonely without you." Still, most of the songs focus on love affairs rather than sexual escapades.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

"Empire State of Mind" includes a reference to "selling rock," but this term for crack cocaine is in the context of singing about the ups and downs of New York City life.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a great album for tweens and teens eager to listen to some R&B tunes. Unlike many pop divas today, Alicia Keys doesn't use sexual innuendo or sexy images to get her point across. Sure this album is all about love and relationships, but most of the songs present positive female images. A few references to going to bed with someone and touching them pale in comparison to most modern pop songs, and Keys' musical arrangements should present a nice alternative to the over-produced, synthesized vocals most kids are used to.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 and 18+-year-old Written bytphox April 27, 2010
Parent of a 9-year-old Written bykeyshialove December 19, 2009
this is so so fun :)
Teen, 15 years old Written byChristian gurl December 19, 2011

One iffy song

its pretty good except the one iffy song "this Bed" otherwise its fine
Kid, 11 years old February 2, 2011


U CRAZY OLD LADY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's the story?

It's a softer side to Alicia Keys on her latest release, THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM, as the singer/songwriter tackles depression, vulnerability, want, and longing, all while adding some unique sounds courtesy of vintage keyboards. The album itself will go down in history not for its antique instruments, but its technological breakthrough, as the first album to stream completely via an application on Facebook.

Is it any good?

Sometimes an album will feature a few stellar tracks and a whole lot of filler, but it's obvious that Alicia Keys wasn't phoning in any of these tracks. The R&B diva has never been one to hold back on emotion, but this release in particular appears extremely raw and accessible. Tracks like "Love is Blind" and "Doesn't Mean Anything" are beautifully arranged, and as a whole, the album performs a nice balancing act between bluesy jazz and straight-up pop. There's a whole lot of longing on this album, but fans of the genre couldn't ask for much more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about healthy romantic relationships. It's okay to fall head over heels for someone, but can that emotion be taken too far? Can falling in love distract you from other parts of your life or make you forget your own identity? Do you see women falling into this trap more than men in the media? Do you think TV shows and movies present an image of sex and relationships that tweens and teens try to emulate?


  • Families can talk about good role models. Do you think Alicia Keys is a good model for young girls? Why or why not? How does she differ from other female pop stars?

  • How can you separate appropriate lyrics from iffy content? Should you judge an album by its cover, or is it important to investigate all of the songs?

  • This album made history on Facebook as the first album to stream completely via an application. Do you think social networking sites might become the new source for music? How will that change the music business and your activity level on these sites?

Music details

  • Artist: Alicia Keys
  • Release date: December 15, 2009
  • Label: J Records
  • Genre: R&B/Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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