Alive is a downtempo ballad recorded by Jennifer Lopez.
It was co-written by Jennifer, Cris Judd and Cory Rooney for the 2002 Michael Apted-directed thriller "Enough."
Jennifer stars in "Enough" as Slim, a waitress who marries a wealthy contractor and flees with their young daughter as he becomes increasingly abusive.
While on the run, Slim (who discovers that her husband is following her) "trains herself for a final, violent confrontation."
The producers of "Enough" wanted Jennifer to write a new song for film, however, she felt as if it was not something that could be forced.
While on their honeymoon in the fall of 2001, Judd played Jennifer a melody that he had written on the piano.
She thought that the melody was "really beautiful" and that it would be perfect fit for "Enough."
Jennifer incorporated the hardships that Slim went through in the film as well as her own personal struggles into the song's lyrics.
"Alive" doesn't appear on the film score of "Enough" and instead was included on Lopez's first remix album J to tha L–O!: The Remixes instead.
It was released as the second single from the album on May 21, 2002 by Epic Records.
Music critics were divided on "Alive"; some deemed Jennifer's change in musical style to be refreshing while others felt as if she should stick to the dance arrangements of her previous work.
The song's accompanying music video was directed by Jim Gable. It features Jennifer playing the piano, writing the lyrics to "Alive" and recording the song intercut between scenes from "Enough."
On May 17, 2002, she performed the song live on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
It was first reported in November of 2000 that Jennifer was in talks to star in the Michael Apted-directed thriller film "Enough."
Sandra Bullock had originally signed on to portray the lead, but she was forced to back out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. Her casting in the film was confirmed by MTV News on May 19, 2001.
The filming began two days later and took place on location in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
Recording music and filming "Enough" at the same time, Jennifer became overworked and had a nervous breakdown.
She suffered from a lack of sleep and froze up in her trailer. In 2008, Jennifer confessed: "I was like – I don't want to move, I don't want to talk, I don't want to do anything."
Jennifer stars in Enough as Slim, a waitress whose life is severely altered after she marries Mitch, a wealthy contractor portrayed by Billy Campbell. Slim flees her increasingly abusive husband with their newborn daughter following her birth.
She soon discovers that she is being followed by Mitch. While on the run, Slim "trains herself for a final, violent confrontation" with her husband.
For the final act (which required Jennifer to "become a believable lean, mean fighting machine") she thought about learning t'ai chi or taekwondo, but was worried about learning it at an expert level in a short period of time.
Jennifer's personal trainer then suggested that she study Krav Maga, the "official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces which has recently become trendy in the States" according to MTV News.
"Enough" was initially scheduled to be released in September, but it was later pushed back to "early 2002" and eventually saw a release on May 24, 2002.
Songwriting & ProductionEdit
The producers of "Enough" wanted Jennifer to write a new song for the film. According to her, writing a song is something that cannot be forced; "It kinda just has to happen."
While on their honeymoon in October of 2001, Cris Judd played Jennifer a melody that he had written on the piano.
She thought that the melody was "really beautiful" and that it would make a "wonderful song" felt that a "little bit of it sounded like the movie, a little haunting."
When she heard the melody, Jennifer said to herself: "I can write something to that right now. And we can use it in Enough."
She then began to think about the film and the character that she portrays and what she had been through. In addition, she also thought about the things that she had gone through in her own life.
According to Jennifer, it was easy to be inspired by the melody Judd had written "and just kind of that grateful feeling, to just be here [...] And keeping it simple. Because life can get so crazy and everything. And then you realize, it's all just kinda about the simplicity of being here, and being healthy. And being alive. So that's where the song came from."
"Alive" was written by Jennifer, Judd and Cory Rooney. The song was produced by Rooney and Dan Shea, who also provided programming for the song.
Jennifer's vocals were recorded at Sony Music Studios and The Hit Factory in New York City.
Her vocals were engineered by Robert Williams, with assistance from Jamie Gudewicz, Jason Dale and Kyle White. Pat Webe acted as the stage engineer for the song.
Humberto Gatica provided audio engineering for the strings which were arranged and conducted by Bill Ross.
They were recorded by Bill Smith at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, with assistance from Jason Lloyd, Mark Eshelman and Julianne Masted.
The song was mixed by Mick Guzauski at Barking Doctor Studios in Mount Kisco, with assistance from Tom Bender.
It was mastered by Herb Powers at Hit Factory Mastering in New York City. After the song was completed, Jennifer played it for the producers of "Enough" and they "loved it."
"Alive" is not "the type of music" that Lopez is used to making. According to Lopez, she knew that there was something "inside of me that I have to offer to this ["Alive"]. And then, you know, things happen. Things have a weird way of happening naturally and organically when they're supposed to. And I feel that this song was just meant to be, for this movie. Basically, I wrote the song for me to go through all these kinds of things as an actress with this character. You draw from all different experiences in your life. From way back to the present, to whatever, to make it really true and honest."
"Alive" means "the world" to Jennifer because of its positive message and the fact that it was something that she created with Judd.
Release & PromotionEdit
"Alive" was serviced to radio in the United States on May 21, 2002, as the third single from J to tha L–O! The Remixes.
Chris Cox and Barry Harris (known collectively as Thunderpuss) remixed "Alive" into a "club-ready" dance track.
The song managed to reach number two on the US Billboard Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart, staying behind "You Gotta Believe" from Tommy Boy Silver.
It topped the Maxi-Single Sales chart for three weeks. The song also managed to reach number 18 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Music critics were divided on "Alive."
Chuck Taylor of Billboard stated that: "Remember that 'Oh, my' feeling the first time you heard Madonna sing her first ballad, 'Crazy for You'? It's déjà vu with 'Alive'."
According to Taylor, Jennifer instills a "vulnerable spirit of romanticism" in the track. He wrote that she "does her best" with the song, a "regal ballad."
He called "Alive" a "bold new terrain" for Jennifer, "an artist who is heralded more for her videogenics than her voice."
Taylor wrote that "it's nice to have top 40's leading staple artist diversify her portfolio with a musical summer fling that will maintain programmers' and fans' love affair with Lopez.."
He stated that the radio remix of "Alive" is "made more luxurious" with the addition of a "cascade of fluttering strings."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called "Alive" the "biggest surprise" of J to tha L–O! The Remixes album.
William Ruhlmann of Allmusic gave the song a negative review, writing that her vocal limitations "come to the fore when she is spotlighted on such a song without a dance arrangement to support her."
He stated, however, that her vocal limitations are not "as big a deal" as her lack of emotional involvement:
"Though she tries to fake it here and there, she still sounds like she's singing her grocery list instead of the song's clichéd lyrics."
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly called the song a "syrupy ballad" that is "neither alive nor a remix."
He stated that if you listen to the song long enough, "you may actually be conned into thinking Lopez's voice and songs are passable."
He concluded by stating as a result of "Alive", J to tha L–O! The Remixes may be the most insidious album ever made.
At the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards, the Thunderpuss Remix received an award for "Latin Dance Single Of The Year" and "Latin Dance Club Play Track Of The Year."
The accompanying music video for "Alive" was directed by Jim Gable.
The video opens with Jennifer composing the melody and writing the lyrics for "Alive" on a piano in her living room which overlooks a pier.
Behind her, a flashing screen displays scenes from "Enough" along with Jennifer recording the song in a studio with her band.
After walking away from the piano, she lies optimistically on her sofa. Jennifer is then seen singing amid a large body of outdoor water.
At the instrumental passage for "Alive," she embraces the music being played by the band and changes a few chords with Cory Rooney, who is seated at a piano.
Jennifer then emotionally finishes recording the song during its final chorus.
Throughout the entire video, clips from the film continue to be inter-cut with these settings.
The music video for "Alive" included on a special edition DVD re-release of "Enough" as well as Jennifer's first music video compilation The Reel Me.
Jennifer performed the song for the first and only time on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on May 17, 2002.
Credits & PersonnelEdit
- Vocals recorded at Sony Music Studios and The Hit Factory in New York City, New York.
- Strings recorded at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.
- Mixed at Barking Doctor Studios in Mount Kisco, New York.
- Mastered at Hit Factory Mastering in New York City, New York.
- Jennifer Lopez: songwriter
- Cris Judd: songwriter
- Cory Rooney: producer and songwriter
- Dan Shea: producer and programmer
- Robert Williams: engineer
- Jamie Gudewicz: assistance engineer
- Jason Dale: assistance engineer
- Kyle White: assistance engineer
- Pat Webe: stage engineer
- Humberto Gatica: string engineer
- Bill Ross: string engineer and conductor
- Bill Smith: string recorder
- Jason Lloy: assistant string recorder
- Mark Eshelman: assistant string recorder
- Julianne Masted: assistant string recorder
- Mick Guzauski: mixer
- Tom Bender: assistant mixer
- Herb Powers: mastering