Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

Seal was penniless. He wanted to throw his greatest hit into the trash

“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams, “Losing My Religion” by REM and “Rush Rush” by Paula Abdul – among others, such songs occupied the charts in 1991. The competition was considerable and at a high level, but there was still room for a new, talented artist. Seal he had an architect’s diploma in his pocket, but he had no dreams of designing anything. He had wanted to sing for a long time. The artist even tried his hand at local bars and clubs, but these were often performances for a random audience who were not very interested in what was happening on stage. Touring Japan with a funk band and then singing blues in Thailand were also more of a training for a real career than a path to success.

Fortunately, Seal met an ambitious producer, Adamski. The musicians created the single “Killer“, which changed their lives. Literally, because when the song was released, Adamski was on benefits and earning extra money as a DJ, and Seal didn’t even have these pennies and lived in a squat. The artists mentioned that their lives changed literally within a week. “Killer” became a hit, and Seal and Adamski were no longer just aspiring musicians who couldn’t afford to pay the rent. This success helped the vocalists a lot, because when the musician released his debut album a year later, he was already “the Seal from ‘Killer'” . Thanks to the album, the artist added another song to his set of hits “Crazy” and so Seal became one of the hottest debutants of the early 1990s.

Ask young musicians with a great debut what their biggest fear is. Many of them will surely answer: the second album. External pressure, a high bar and high expectations from fans certainly do not make things easier. Fortunately, Seal’s second album did not disappoint, and the album owes its success primarily to the single “Kiss From a Rose” However, the song almost didn’t appear at all.

The singer wrote “Kiss From a Rose” around 1987, but he doesn’t remember exactly when it happened. He remembers that at that time he had no money, no apartment, and he really wanted to record an album. Little did he know that he would have to wait several years for it. In any case, Seal had no experience in recording studios yet. He knew how to sing live, because he had performed many times, but creating and producing songs was black magic for the artist. The musician acquired a small recorder thanks to which he could record his ideas on tape. The first attempts turned out to be not very successful, because Seal was just learning how to use the device. The second problem was that the singer didn’t play any instrument at the time. This made the work much more difficult, especially since the artist wanted to hear an orchestra in “Kiss From a Rose”. It ended with the musician recording a dozen or so tracks of his vocals, which were supposed to imitate individual instruments. Maybe it wasn’t entirely professional, but the singer deserves an award for his unconventional solution to the problem. Now, if you’re expecting a story about Seal rushing to the studio, well… it won’t be there. The artist listened to the recordings, stated that he was not delighted and was even ashamed of what he had written, and then – as he said – he “threw the tape into the corner”.

When the manufacturer Trevor Horn worked with the singer on his debut album, Seal didn’t even mention the song. The artist admitted that at that time he was listening to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and dance music, and “Kiss From a Rose” did not fit these inspirations at all. Moreover, the musician did not want people to associate him with such a song from the beginning and was still ashamed of the song. Even before Trevor Horn and Seal started working on their second album, one of the singer’s friends, Paul, mentioned to the producer about a recording that was lying at the bottom of a drawer and should definitely be included on the album. When Horn started asking his co-worker about the piece, he always came up with some excuse and didn’t want to brag about the composition. Trevor, however, is not a man who gives up his ideas easily, so he came back to the topic so many times and persuaded Seal for so long that he finally brought the tape. Horn was delighted. Perhaps the waltz-style song with poetic lyrics didn’t quite fit what was dominating the charts at the time, but the producer persuaded the artist to record the song.

The musician finally looked at “Kiss From a Rose” from a slightly different perspective, because he really liked the arrangement of the orchestra part. “Trevor is a crazy alchemist: you give him many ingredients and somehow he puts them together and something magical comes out of it,” the singer admitted in an interview with “Vulture”. Even this didn’t save the song, because Seal still wasn’t convinced about the song. This time it was the artist who pestered Horn and finally convinced the producer to remove the song from the new album.

It would probably stay that way and “Kiss From a Rose” might never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for the intervention of the singer’s spokeswoman. When the woman listened to the proposal for the album, she immediately asked what happened to the “song about a rose”. Seal then thought better of it, picked up the discarded track and – to Trevor’s delight – restored the song to the album. He still wasn’t a fan of hers, but he thought that if two people were insisting, maybe there was something to it? The artist’s second album was released in 1994, “Kiss From a Rose” was the second single from this album, and it was Seal who was able to say: “I told you so?” The song spent only a few weeks on the charts, first at number 60 and then at number 80, which is hardly a success. People outside the fan base had little chance of hearing the song on the radio. For the musician, the matter was clear: he didn’t believe in this song from the beginning, and the single’s poor ratings only confirmed his suspicions.

Everyone would probably have forgotten about the song if it weren’t for the fact that a few months later it was included on the soundtrack of the movie “The NeverEnding Story III”. The production received mediocre reviews, but many people discovered the song thanks to it. However, nothing can compare to what Hollywood did for “Kiss From a Rose”. Director Joel Schumacher he was looking for a song for his new movie: “Batman Forever“. Superhero productions are usually very popular, so you could blindly bet that this one would also become a blockbuster. It so happened that Schumacher was a fan of Seal, so one day he called the musician and asked if he would have something for him some good song. The singer admitted that he had just started creating the next album, but nothing was ready yet, so he couldn’t help. Then the artist’s manager, who happened to know Joel, stepped in and sent him his protégé’s album, and next to it “Kiss From a Rose” drew a star on the cover.

The next day after receiving the parcel, the director called again. The filmmaker was delighted with the song. Schumacher wanted to use the song in a love scene between Batman and Dr. Chase Meridian, played by Val Kilmer and Nicole Kidman, but the whole thing didn’t quite suit him, so he decided to put the entire single on the end credits. Joel gave Seal one more surprise: he created a music video for the song with clips from the film. All this provided the work with promotion that the musician could not even dream of, and above all, it proved to the artist that he underestimated his work. All it took was for people to hear the song and they immediately fell in love with it.

When “Batman Forever” hit theaters, Seal couldn’t believe what was happening. “Kiss From a Rose” began to conquer all possible charts, it was played constantly on radio and television stations, and the song provided the artist with great sales of his second album and a collection of awards, including three Grammy Awards. Has this changed the way Seal thinks about the song? The singer still wonders how it was possible that everything turned out this way, because it wasn’t an obvious, simple hit. EltonJohn, finally a giant of the scene, admitted that it was also a difficult song to sing. In addition, there are no simple choruses that an average person could hum at every possible opportunity.

But it worked! Seal, of course, loved the song years later. No wonder, since “Kiss From a Rose” turned out to be one of the biggest hits of his career. “I was really lucky,” the musician admitted on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” although Seal jokes years later that if he had known what so captivated people about this song, he would have written more of them. One more thing: Trevor and the star’s spokeswoman were right and they were finally able to shout: “We told you so?”