One of the more mysterious songs ever written, there has been much speculation as to the meaning of "Kiss From A Rose" - many think it has something to do with drugs, while others hear it as an expression of love or a journey to the afterlife. Seal has never explained what the song is about, offering only that there was "some kind of relationship that inspired the lyrics."
Seal bucked convention by including printed lyrics with the album, something he did because he didn't want to wash away anyone's interpretation. He also says that his songs often mean more than one thing, so attributing a meaning would be too simplistic. In lieu of lyrics, Seal wrote a screed on the subject that went with the album. "I think it's the general vibe of what I'm saying that is important and not the exact literal translation," he wrote. "The song is always larger in the listener's mind because with it they attach imagery which is relative to their own personal experience. So it is your perception of what I'm saying rather than what I actually way that is the key."
Seal wrote this song sometime around 1988 when he was living in a squat in Kensal Green, London. He says it was a liberating time, as it was before he had a record deal and there was no pressure on him. He didn't know how to play any instruments, so he sang the instrumental parts onto a 4-track tape recorder as an experiment. He tossed the tape aside and thought nothing of it; when he recorded his 1991 debut album, he didn't even consider it.
The song was revived two years later when Seal played if for his best friend, who told his producer Trevor Horn about it. Horn made Seal play it for him, and he liked what he heard. They recorded the song for his second album (Seal, 1994), but they still nearly tanked it. "I thought it was too flowery and that it didn't fit," Seal told The Guardian. They were going to pull it from the tracklist, but reconsidered after their friend Lynne Franks heard the album-in-progress and said she liked "that song that was something about a rose."
The song was released as a single in the UK, where it went to #20 in July 1994. In America, the song didn't get noticed until it played under the end credits of the movie Batman Forever and was included on the soundtrack. The film was released in May 1995, nearly a year after Seal's album was issued. The movie appearance sparked demand for the song in the US; it was issued as a single there in June 1995 and climbed to #1 in August.
Batman Forever was distributed by Warner Bros., the same conglomerate that owned Seal's US label, Sire Records. The song was submitted for a love scene featuring Nicole Kidman's Dr. Chase Meridian character and Val Kilmer's Batman, but the film's director Joel Schumacher decided it was a better fit under the end credits.
With its curious waltz time, lavish harmonies and epic sound proportions, this song had a very different sound and stood out on the radio, where many stations were willing to play it. In the US, it was a #1 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts for 12 weeks.
This won Grammy Awards in 1996 for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance. It wasn't eligible for an Oscar because the song appeared on Seal's album before it was used in the film.
This song was a worldwide hit, scoring in the Top 10 in Australia, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the US, and the UK. In 1994, there was no getting away from it on the radio.
Not only is this song part of the Batman Forever soundtrack, but the second version of the video contains a great deal of film footage, and has Seal on a rooftop stage set next to a bat-signal. This ages the song badly, as - brace yourself for an onslaught from the world's most hideous fandom - director Joel Schumacher was later credited with ruining the Batman franchise "forever," resulting in the reboot with the Nolan version.
What is Seal's actual birth name? Take a deep breath and say "Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel." Yes, all six of them. Seal is of Nigerian and Brazilian heritage, which might explain some of his unique international appeal.
"Kiss From A Rose" is Seal's only #1 hit on the Billboard charts; however, he charted five times in the Billboard Top 40 from 1991 ("Crazy
") to 1996 (a cover of Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like An Eagle
"). This song also made it to #1 on the Billboard Mainstream, Hot Adult and Adult Contemporary charts.
Seal appeared in a commercial for the NFL that aired during the 2016 Super Bowl where he and groups of children sang a reworked version of this song to drive home the message of the spot: that cities that win a Super Bowl see an increase in births nine months later. In the commercial, these "Super Bowl Babies" sing stilted lyrics like "What makes this Super Bowl so super, a game we adore?" and "Mom and dad looked at each other, one thing led to another that night," while Seal appears near the Golden Gate Bridge.
This was featured in an episode of the TV miniseries The people v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. It is used in a scene where prosecutor Marcia Clark has a breakdown, which would have taken place around March 1995, close to when the song was released as a single in America.
Ed Helms sings along to this in the 2015 movie Vacation in a scene where the song comes on the radio and he tries, unsuccessfully, to get his family to sing along. Later, he has more luck, getting everyone to join in when he sings it on a roller coaster.