Review: Phoenix And R. Kelly Make The Year’s Illest Mash-Up With ‘Trying To Be Cool’


/ August 15, 2013

Phoenix and R. Kelly accomplish their mission with “Trying To Be Cool”

Up is down, a west coast rapper has just proclaimed himself the king of New York and Internet-phobic musical genius Prince has just joined the Twitter universe. Since cats are now cuddling with dogs, how about one more WTF moment? Yes, that’s R&B god R. Kelly adding his momentous soul to acclaimed electro indie-rock band Phoenix’s remix of “Trying To Be Cool.”

To be straight, this genre mash-up is anything but un-cool, as Frenchman Thomas Mars trades lines with the Pied Piper on a musical union that takes the best qualities of futuristic ‘80s pop with a flavorful injection of swaggering soul that adds another dimension to an already infectious work. “City and desert coexist/Depending on the things you’re wearing…tell me that you want me…” Mars implores to the object of his low-key lust. But there’s always another path to getting into some trouble after midnight. That’s where Kelly comes in. He’s in fine voice here proving once again that when he’s serious he is the most gifted rhythm and blues artist of his generation. “Stepping out tonight/It’s on tonight/Going hard tonight/Not going home tonight…” he sings over atmospheric keyboards. From there Kells throws money in the air, takes shots, and references heaven of all places.

The buzz is Kelly’s upcoming effort Black Panties will be a return to his raunchier 12 Play days. But as the man gives his hardcore followers what they want, the Chicago native son should also give them what they need: pulling off some left-field material that goes beyond his own friendlier feeling-on-your-booty confines. R. Kelly the king of synth rock and roll? That has a nice ring to it.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)