Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

R. Kelly still believes he can fly

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(Sun-Times file photo)

Prepare ye for the triumphant return of acquitted lover man R. Kelly.

Even during the R&B champ's Chicago trial for 14 counts of child porn, he continued churning out what he churns out best: bawdy songs bragging of truly bent sexual encounters. But after the trial, Robert spent some time in 2008 traveling and performing in Africa, in an attempt to "really get into things, some humanity stuff."

While the title of the new R. Kelly song, "Sign of a Victory," is fodder for more jokes about the trial, its breathly, vaguely African sound returns us to the Other R. Kelly -- the one who, perhaps in the glow of the morning after one of his sexcapades, sings vaguely inspirational anthems that don't say much but make us feel oh-so good. The new song is simply "I Believe I Can Fly" retooled belatedly for the soundtrack of "The Lion King."


Over a breathy choir and, somewhere underneath there, some tribal percussion, Kelly strings together several cliches ("I can feel the spirit of the nations / I can feel my wings ridin' the wind") before, kinda hilariously, inserting a topical line out of nowhere ("You open your eyes to global warming") that has no apparent relevance to anything else in the song. But it makes you feel oh-so good.

No doubt it will work that same magic on the crowds at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where on June 11 Kelly will perform the song with the Soweto Spiritual Singers during the event's opening ceremony at the Johannesburg Soccer City Stadium.

When the single is available, proceeds will benefit African charities, including the official World Cup campaign "20 Centers for 2010."

Kelly said last week in a statement: "I feel blessed that 'Sign of a Victory' was selected to be part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Cup is an event that brings the world together and inspires us to be and do the best we can. It's this uplifting feeling that I tried to capture in the song.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on May 24, 2010 12:30 PM.

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