By Rob Markman
Alicia Keys turned up the temperature inside the Staples Center on Thursday night when she tapped Nicki Minaj and Olympic gold-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas for some help with her performance at the MTV’s 2012 Video Music Awards.
Douglas intro’d Keys, who played her piano standing up in front of glowing red amps. Alicia sung a capella with her sweet and calming voice sounding as beautiful as she looked in a pewter-colored top and black form-fitting tights. “She’s just a girl and she’s on fire,” Alicia sung as the camera cut to her husband Swizz Beatz, who watched from the crowd with the couple’s son, Egypt, on his shoulders.
Earlier this week, Alicia released the title track from her upcoming LP in two parts — the softer “Girl on Fire (Blue Light)” version and the other “Inferno” mix featuring Nicki Minaj. In a surprise twist, the stage lights darkened and a spotlight in the crowd shined on the Pink Friday MC who rapped a story about the ghost of Marilyn Monroe while wearing a curly blond wig. “Spirit of Marilyn callin’ me, audibly/ Ballin’ she/ Said that she would never leave/ Continue to torture me,” she rhymed.
The Young Money rap queen continued to link well-connected bars with her head down before her final line brought everything full circle. “And I got ‘em aggy because I win the gold like Gabby,” Minaj spit cuing gymnast Gabby Douglas to take the stage doing an array of graceful flips and cartwheels.
Towards the song’s close, Alicia marched center stage belting out her latest girl anthem while pumping her fists. With her last note, Keys arched her back, dipped her head back while striking a pose singing into the air, without any interruption from Lil Mama.