Celine Dion and R. Kelly – I’m Your Angel

First Hit #1: December 5, 1998

At first glance, R. Kelly and Celine Dion don’t seem like obvious collaborators. Kelly is a renowned horndog, Dion is curiously asexual. But then when you listen to I’m Your Angel you remember that Kelly wrote I Believe I Can Fly, so he’s also an artist that can go directly into the generic uplift category, and that’s definitely where he goes with this song, which is one of those moments of mild inspiration that he can do whenever he wants a hit.

There’s really nothing special about the words of I’m Your Angel, it’s pretty much going for a generalized bit of uplift and is pretty unashamed of it. They even bring out a gospel choir late in the song, to really emphasize that this is supposed to be inspiring. What is interesting is how Dion and Kelly actually work for a duet. Their voices aren’t remotely similar, and that’s why it works. Both know the ins and outs of this kind of general uplift, and they know exactly how to sing an inspiring song. Except, since they have different ideas of how to approach an inspiring song, their voices are decidedly different, whether on the verses where they trade lines and emphasize the differences in their style, or on the chorus where Dion gives a base that Kelly dances around as he harmonizes. It’s an impressive show of how two performers can take distinctly different takes on the same material within the same song. Kelly and Dion work as a duet because they almost sound like they shouldn’t be on the same radio station, let alone the same track. It also gives the song a bit of that extra inspiration that both performers want, they are your angel, whether you like the style of Dion or Kelly. It is more universal, in a way.

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One Response to Celine Dion and R. Kelly – I’m Your Angel

  1. RBerman says:

    Dion’s image is more “wholesome romantic” than asexual (though see “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”), but certainly compared to R. Kelly she’s a nun. But yeah, on this one, R. Kelly is standing there in sensitive Boyz II Men mode, which is much more of a stretch for him than for her. Too bad they couldn’t get both of them in the same room for the video; they look like they’re video conferencing. Interestingly, both artists put this one on a non-compilation album; that doesn’t happen often in duets. The ending works in the gospel choir you were missing from Divine yesterday!

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