I Am (Leona Lewis song)

"I Am"
A black and white image of a woman looking at the camera face on. Leona Lewis is written in back in the centre-top. I Am is written in white in the centre-bottom.
Single by Leona Lewis
from the album I Am
Released 17 July 2015 (2015-07-17)
Length 3:42
Label Island
  • Toby Gad
  • Eg White
Leona Lewis singles chronology
"Fire Under My Feet"
"I Am"

"I Am" is a song by British singer and songwriter Leona Lewis from her fifth studio album, I Am (2015). The song was written by Lewis, Toby Gad and Eg White, with Gad and White producing it. Lyrically, "I Am" is about the feelings and emotions experienced by Lewis following her departure from her former record label Syco and its boss, Simon Cowell. It is a dance-influenced track which makes use of strings, piano and drums as part of its instrumentation. Its composition garnered comparisons to singers Avril Lavigne and Massive Attack. Island released "I Am" on 17 July 2015 as the lead single for the United Kingdom, but it is the second single to be released from the album overall. Remixes by Fastlane and DEVolution were also released. The track garnered a positive response from music critics, many of whom praised Lewis' strong and emotive vocal performance and described it as a standout on the album. Lewis has performed the song live on The National Lottery: In It to Win It and at the BBC's Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park festival.

Background and composition

"I Am" was written by Leona Lewis, Toby Gad and Eg White, with Gad and White producing the track, for Lewis's fifth studio album of the same name (2015). It was published by ASCAP and Atlas Music publishings (on behalf of itself and Gadfly Songs (ASCAP) and Kobalt Music Group Ltd. White performed much of the song's instrumentation, and is credited with playing the piano, drums, bass and bells, as well as the string and drum programming. The strings were recorded by White and Kristian Larsen in Studio A at Kensaltown Studios, and were arranged by White, transcribed by Clarissa Farran, and contracted by Hilary Skewes. The violins were played by Marije Johnston, Kotono Sato, Max Baillie, Bea Lovejoy, Warren Zielinksi, Janice Graham, Helen Paterson and Hannah Dawson. Meghan Cassidy and James Boyd played the viola, while David Cohen and Ben Chappell played the cello. "I Am" was mixed by Wez Clarke, with additional mixing carried out by Gad at Kite Music Studios in Los Angeles. The track's audio was mastered by Tom Coyne at Sterling Sound studios in New York City, with assistance from Randy Merrill. Lewis provided all of the vocals for the track. For the acoustic version of "I Am", Gad undertook all of the instrumentation and also performed the mixing.[1]

"I Am" is a dance-influenced song. Some critics believe the lyrics allude to Lewis' emotions and feelings following her departure from Syco Records and Simon Cowell, her former label boss and friend.[2][3] Digital Spy writer Lewis Corner felt that the title track had very few barriers, exemplified by the lyrics "I am, with or without you / I am, breathing without you / I am, somebody without you."[4] Lewis performs the lyrics over an instrumentation of "rousing" strings and breakbeats.[4] As she sings "I won't change for you," a heavy drum beat and occasional piano chimes reminiscent of songs by Avril Lavigne are played.[5]

Release and remixes

On 30 June 2015, Lewis released a three-minute teaser video with snippets of "I Am", "Ladders, "Power" and "Thunder".[6] "I Am" was released as the second single from the album and lead single for the United Kingdom; it was not promoted in the United States due to the decision to release the album's third overall single "Thunder" as its lead single instead.[7][8] The full length version of "I Am" premiered on BBC Radio 2 on 17 July 2015.[7] The same day, the track was made available as an automatic download for anyone who had previously pre-ordered the album.[2] A two-track remix EP with dance remixes by Fastlane and DEVolution was also made available as a digital download on 17 July in the United Kingdom,[9] Australia,[10] France,[11] Germany,[12] Ireland,[13] and New Zealand.[14] "I Am" was added to BBC Radio 2's B-list playlist on 15 August.[15]

Critical reception

Kathy Iandoli of Idolator highlighted "I Am" as a "gorgeous standout" example of Lewis' ability to "just [sing]" a song as opposed to using auto-tune on "Power" and over-singing on "I Got You".[16] Lewis Corner of Digital Spy felt that the track put "Simon [Cowell] in his place in a way Louis Walsh could only dream of."[4] Brad O'Mance for Popjustice likened the song to Massive Attack's 1991 song "Unfinished Sympathy" "with a different song on top",[17] while Official Charts Company writer Rob Copsey described it as "gutsy and uplifting".[7] However, Michael Clemons of The Daily Reveille thought that while it was not a stand out track, it was a good listen.[5] Chuck Campbell of Knoxville News Sentinel thought that the track's lyrical theme, and the album's theme as a whole, was flawed as a concept, writing "The problem with repeatedly declaring you don’t need the approval of someone who has wronged you is that your message is false. Clearly if Lewis indulges in six straight bitter songs about defiantly rebounding from a bad relationship (which she does on “I Am”), she obviously craves validation from the very person (or people) who did her dirty."[3]

Live performance

Lewis performed "I Am" for the first time during a live showcase at the Hospital Club in London on 14 April 2015.[18] The singer premiered four other tracks from I Am including "Ladders", "I Got You", "Thank You" and "Fire Under My Feet".[18] Stefan Kyriazis of the Daily Star described "I Am" and "Ladders" as "instant crowd pleasers".[19] Lewis later performed the track live on The National Lottery: In It to Win It on 12 September 2015,[20] and again the following day at the BBC's Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park festival.[21] The set-list also included performances of "Better in Time", "Bleeding Love", "Run", "Fire Under My Feet" and "I Got You".[21] "I Am" was included as the opening song on her 2016 concert tour of the same name.[22]

Track listings

Release history

Country Version Date Format Label Ref.
United Kingdom Original 17 July 2015 Radio premiere Island [7]
Automatic download (From album pre-order) [2]
Australia Remix EP Digital download [10]
France [11]
Germany [12]
Ireland [13]
New Zealand [14]
United Kingdom [9]
Original 15 August 2015 BBC Radio 2 B-list playlist [15]


  1. I Am. Def Jam Recordings (Inlay cover). Leona Lewis. September 11, 2015. p. 7.
  2. 1 2 3 Corner, Lewis (17 July 2015). "Leona Lewis releases new single 'I Am' from upcoming album". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  3. 1 2 Campbell, Chuck (8 September 2015). "'Tuned In' review: Leona Lewis' return with 'I Am' feels rote". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 Corner, Lewis (4 September 2015). "Leona Lewis's new album I Am reviewed: A different kind of Ex-Factor". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  5. 1 2 Clemons, Michael (16 September 2015). "Review: Leona Lewis – 'I Am'". The Daily Reveille. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  6. Love, Ryan (30 June 2015). "Leona Lewis previews new tracks from forthcoming album I Am". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Copsey, Rob (17 July 2015). "Leona Lewis releases uplifting new single I Am – listen". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  8. Corner, Lewis (16 July 2015). "Leona Lewis debuts studio version of new US single 'Thunder'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "I Am (Remixes) – Single". iTunes Store UK. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  10. 1 2 "I Am (Remixes) – Single". iTunes Store IE. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  11. 1 2 "I Am (Remixes) – Single". iTunes Store FR (in French). 17 July 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  12. 1 2 "I Am (Remixes) – Single". iTunes Store DE (in German). 17 July 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  13. 1 2 "I Am (Remixes) – Single". iTunes Store IE. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  14. 1 2 "I Am (Remixes) – Single". iTunes Store NZ. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  15. 1 2 "Radio 2 Playlist". BBC. 15 August 2015. Archived from the original on 17 August 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  16. Iandoli, Kathy (11 September 2015). "Leona Lewis' 'I Am': Album Review". Idolator. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  17. O'Mance, Brad (17 July 2015). "Leona Lewis new single 'I Am' is now online in an official capacity". Popjustice. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  18. 1 2 "We Love What We've Heard Of Leona Lewis's New Album So Far!". MTV News. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  19. Kyriazis, Stefan (16 April 2015). "Review: What a transformation – spectacular Leona Lewis stuns crowd at new album showcase". Daily Star. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  20. "Episode 1 Series 18". BBC. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  21. 1 2 "Set List on Main Stage on 13 Sep 2015 at Hyde Park". BBC. 13 September 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  22. Corner, Lewis (22 February 2016). "Leona Lewis launches I Am tour - check out the setlist, pictures and a Sam Smith covers". Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  23. 1 2 "I Am (Deluxe)". iTunes Store. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.

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