Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” is one that everyone knows the lyrics to and that much is proven anytime the song comes on the radio or is chosen in a packed karaoke house.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
IIIIIII’vvvvveeee beeeeen kissssseedddd byyyy aaaa rooooosssseee onnnn thee greyyyy!
On the song, Seal’s gravelly voice shines. But what is the history of this strange tune, this soundtrack juggernaut, this signature song from the British-born Seal?
Let’s dive in.
Born on February 19, 1963, Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel—or, simply, Seal—is a British singer who has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide. He’s known for hits like “Crazy” and “Killer” and, especially, “Kiss from a Rose.”
To date, the artist has won three Brit Awards, four Grammy Awards, and an MTV Video Music Award. He’s also been a coach on The Voice Australia in 2012, 2013, and 2017.
The Song’s Success
Originally, “Kiss from a Rose” appeared on Seal’s second eponymous album, Seal II, released in 1994. It was first released in the summer of that year and it was included in the film, The NeverEnding Story III. But a year later, it was re-released in 1995 as part of a much bigger movie, the third installment in the then-latest Batman franchise, Batman Forever, starring actor Val Kilmer.
With that connection, the song went on to top the charts in both the United States and Australia. It also hit the top 10 in countries like Canada, France, Iceland, and Norway. At the 1996 Grammy Awards, Seal took home Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance awards thanks to the success of the track.
Writing the Song
While the song was released in the mid-90s, it was written way back in 1987.
Upon writing the song, Seal felt self-conscious, even saying he was “embarrassed by it” and that he “threw the tape in the corner.” He failed to show the song to record producer Trevor Horn for his first eponymous album in 1991, Seal. He waited until the sessions for his second LP, Seal II, several years later.
Some two decades later, in 2015, Seal discussed the song with Genius. “To be honest, I was never really that proud of it, though I like what Trevor did with the recording,” he said. “He turned that tape from my corner into another 8 million record sales and my name became a household name.”
The song went on to hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in August of 1995. It hit No. 4 on the U.K. Singles Chart (where it had reached No. 20 in 1994).
Admittedly, the lyrics to the song, while passionate and lovely, are a bit hard to follow. In the end, the song’s success is a testament to the power of Seal’s voice and his delivery.
There used to be a greying tower alone on the sea
And you became the light on the dark side of me
Love remained a drug that’s the high and not the pill
But did you know that when it snows
My eyes become large and
The light that you shine can’t be seen?
More Thoughts from Seal
In 2010, the acclaimed vocalist talked about the long trek the song took on The Brian McKnight Show season finale, which aired on May 30, 2010. Seal saw how the track originally dropped off the charts but then director Joel Schumacher called the singer and asked him if he could use the song during a love scene between the characters played by Nicole Kidman and Kilmer in Batman Forever.
Today, the song remains so well-known and beloved. Recently, Seal visited the daytime talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and performed “Kiss from a Rose” some 35 years after writing it. The original music video for the song is below.
Photo by Johnny Louis/Getty Images