Monday, August 26, 2013

If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time by R. Kelly

Conversation between me and Diana as we were sorting through storage boxes:

D: Do you want this cd?
K: prob not. . . Wait a sec. . . OH MY GOD! Yes!!
D: Are you sure? I mean it's not . . .
K: Give it to me NOW!.

The CD in question was “Now That’s What I Call Music 3.”

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the “Now That’s What I Call Music” was a series of compilation CD’s of current popular songs. If you watched MTV and VH1 regularly like I did growing up, you were used to seeing television commercials for these CDs ALL of the time.

Believe it or not the series is still going on and is up to number 43. While the television commercials don’t seem as prevalent, someone out there must still be buying these things.

After listening to this CD over the past week.,I’ve come to the some conclusions about the state of pop music as represented by this CD in 1999.

Enrique Iglesias is shockingly sensual. “Bailamos” is absolutely astounding in its level of “heat.”


I still don’t care about what Limp Bizkit will do for the “Nookie.” This song is all immature bravado and doesn’t describe any real substance.


Oh, K-Ci & Jojo, I believe that you want to hear that it’s real.


And then there’s R. Kelly – Mr. “Trapped In the Closet, went on trial for doing things that I get creeped out even thinking about thinking about, wave around arms like just weird conducting that choir in the end of the “I Believe I Can Fly” video.”


“If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time” was not a huge hit for R. Kelly. However this song, a beautiful mixture of “Unchained Melody” and 1970s soul is a powerful, emotional and touching ballad. R. Kelly’s schmaltz can be a bit much and it definitely feels melodramatic but this is an example of when this was done right.


The sentiment in this song of regret is instantly relatable (unlike the call for needing a city like Gotham).


Instead of projecting a “playa” image, R. Kelly portrays a man who feels at a loss, who has weakness and surprisingly vulnerability. The reflections that R. Kelly makes are simple but insightful. For example, “You had enough love for the both of us” is a powerful realization of how much his partner had to give and how little he gave. Also this describes how blind he was to the blessings in his life.

What really feels timeless about this song is that if Jimmy Ruffin sang this song in the 1960s or Adele sang it right now, it would be a hit.

R. Kelly through his career sometimes seems to have become a caricature of himself. It’s easy to forget that behind the bravado and the controversy, you have a great singer who understands his place in popular music. As “Now That’s What I Call Music 3,” takes me back to another time in my life, there’s some things that I’m glad I forgot about like “Nookie,” but others things I’m glad I rediscovered.

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