“I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

R. Kelly seemed to have garnered something of a divisive reputation within the R&B field, partly due to his uneven output (he has produced his share of catchy but stupid booty-jams like “You Remind Me of Something”, and most of his albums feature significant amounts of filler) and partly because of certain actions in his personal life that I have neither the qualifications nor the inclination to discuss here. And while I won’t deny either of the abovementioned points, the fact still remains that R. Kelly is a supremely talented R&B songwriter and producer, one of the best of his generation. As for this song, which most would agree catches him at his absolute peak, it has been a perennial favorite ever since it was first released as the soundtrack theme for a ridiculous summer blockbuster, one of the few songs of its era to achieve the level of ubiquity and enduring affection that the Great American Songbook standards were known for. While this has actually been a bit of a mixed blessing for the song, as so many of us can whistle its melody by now that we sometimes forget how ravishing it is on first listen, it is still a rare badge of honor for a song that came out as late as the Nineties, and we should respect this song for it…after all, anyone can win an award or top the charts; becoming a beloved classic is a much more difficult achievement.

Verdict: Good.

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