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Inauguration 2013: 'Obama's on fire,' sings Alicia Keys

January 21, 2013|A Pop & Hiss staff report
  • "Obama's on fire," Keys sang at the inaugural ball.
"Obama's on fire," Keys sang at the inaugural ball. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images )

Hours after President Obama was inaugurated, long after the parade ended and before most of the D.C. politicians got back to work, the music continued and looked as if it would go on well into the evening.

Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Maná, fun. and John Legend were among the artists slated to perform at Monday night's inaugural balls (a live feed of the Commander-in-Cheif's ball is embedded below).

After Obama gave a brief speech at one of the balls, Jennifer Hudson serenaded the president and the first lady to a slinky, upbeat rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." It's a song Obama knows well, but even our crooner in chief is no match for Hudson's stately earthiness.

VIDEO: Five landmark civil rights songs for MLK Day and the inauguration

The mood at this inauguration was definitely lighthearted and jovial, at least if one is judging by the music. Early in the night, Keys, dressed in a regal red ballgown, took to the piano to belt out a medley of recent tunes that couldn’t have been more appropriate for the evening, including “New Day” and “Girl on Fire.”

She even changed the "Girl on Fire" lyrics to turn the song into one seemingly about the president. "He's got both feet on the ground, and he's not backing down," Keys sang, further changing to lyrics to sing, "[he's] filled with catastrophe and knows he can find a way."

"Obama's on fire," she continued, louder still, and perhaps over-singing to anticipate cheers form the crowd. "He's president and he's on fire." 

The galas were capping off a day of music, and there is more to come. Lady Gaga, fresh from her two-night stay in Los Angeles, is scheduled to perform Tuesday at a ball for White House staffers, according to the Associated Press.

Tuesday's event is private and one Associated Press says featured Jay-Z in 2009. Gaga's next tour date is Jan. 23 in Phoenix, making it possible for her to have a quick detour to D.C.

Earlier Monday, Times critic Randall Roberts covered the performances at the main inaugural ceremonies, where Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce and James Taylor were among the star-studded musicians in attendance (yes, Jay-Z was there too). 

Beyonce, Roberts wrote, "closed the inauguration with 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' and did so with a grace that transcended the anthem’s rocky lyrical construction and curious phrasing. She floated through the song as the cameras panned the crowd — Obama staring into the distance as if he were modeling for Mt. Rushmore, his wife Michelle breaking into a little smile as Beyonce effortlessly hit her notes."

Stay tuned to Pop & Hiss for more on the day and evening's music. Reading this Monday night? Watch it live here:

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy, Todd Martens and Randall Roberts contributed to this post

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