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R. Kelly: 'There Is No End' to 'Trapped in the Closet'

Backstage at 'X Factor,' singer also reveals he felt nervous performing with Melanie Amaro

December 22, 2011 3:15 PM ET
r kelly x factor
R. Kelly performs with Melanie Amaro on 'The X Factor.'
Ray Mickshaw / FOX

R. Kelly has headlined arenas around the world, but the singer/producer felt like a rookie when he took the stage to perform "I Believe I Can Fly" with Melanie Amaro on last night's X Factor. "Tonight, man, I felt like I was just starting out," Kelly told Rolling Stone backstage after the performance. "I felt like it was my first talent show because you’re always under the light, the camera’s on you and you know you gotta look good, you gotta sound good, and you just gotta be just good. It was a wake-up call for me, as well."

How so? "It reminds me that every day there’s a new talent, there’s somebody else that can do it, there’s somebody else that can sing and has that voice the world is waiting to hear," he said. "When they were cheering for Melanie I’m like, 'Wow, this is a reminder. I need to go out here and be on my Ps and Qs.'"

But the audience helped him get over that quickly. And according to Kelly, that's what's propelling him as an artist these days.

"If that formula was not there there’s no way R. Kelly could go forward," he said. "But to hear the appreciation, the screams – that’s what any of us need. We’re at our best when we’re wanted."

Kelly recently revealed that he's written another 32 chapters of his epic "Trapped in the Closet" hip-hopera. "'Trapped In The Closet' lives in a place on the earth on its own. It pays its own rent, it’s its own landlord, it owns the building, it’s everything," he says. "And it’s so separate from what R. Kelly does, that’s the great thing about it."

With 32 more parts, is the saga nearing its end? "My friend, there is no end when it comes to 'Trapped In The Closet.'"

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Song Stories

“Don't Dream It's Over”

Crowded House | 1986

Early in the sessions for Crowded House's debut album, the band and producer Mitchell Froom were still feeling each other out, and at one point Froom substituted session musicians for the band's Paul Hester and Nick Seymour. "At the time it was a quite threatening thing," Neil Finn told Rolling Stone. "The next day we recorded 'Don't Dream It's Over,' and it had a particularly sad groove to it — I think because Paul and Nick had faced their own mortality." As for the song itself, "It was just about on the one hand feeling kind of lost, and on the other hand sort of urging myself on — don't dream it's over," Finn explained.

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