1994 + 1995: Kiss From A Rose

Thursday, May 22, 2014

So Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" is 20 years old now. Yeppers, everyone's favorite drunken karaoke jam (what? just me?) and middle school talent show number is two decades old. Hear those creaks on that rocking chair. Let me just say that 1994 was the year I fully got 'into' music. I became ~super deep~, writing lyrics in my diary, and trying to code the cryptic messages that were sung by my favorite music stars. I was also into the various Nancy Drew mystery series at this time so I was constantly speculating, composing theories and trying to find explanations for everything back then. "Kiss From A Rose" got the speculation treatment in my journal, and at the time I didn't get the song's whole meaning of falling in love with someone and it being a complex, yet wonderful occurrence. At the time I thought the main lyric was: "Baby, I compare you to a kiss from the rose on a grave" and I got this image of Seal trolling graveyards for chicks and turning into a vampire (I also read a lot of R.L. Stine books back then too...). But I learned later that the lyric is actually "a kiss from a rose on the grey". Pssh. How boring. I prefer my version much better.

Misheard lyrics aside, "Kiss From A Rose" is a just a downright lovely song and I don't let anyone else tell me otherwise. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest pop ballads ever. Yes. Ever. It's also, of course, Seal's signature hit, and when it was re-released in 1995 and included on the Batman Forever soundtrack he was pretty much everywhere at that point, rightfully snagging a #1 hit and winning three Grammys for it. The song actually overshadows the movie for me, as all that I can recall from that particular Batman installment is how much I had a thing for '90s Val Kilmer back then and why I still think Jim Carrey is really The Riddler and we're all just telling ourselves otherwise. But the video is super stylish (the previous music video is of Seal being voyeuristic with a really bored looking supermodel), moody, and makes me wish I walked with wind machines all the time.

To this day, Seal is still one of my favorite male vocalists. He just has this intriguing way of wrapping his voice around a song that effectively stirs up the emotions he grabs at. Just all-around genuine and charismatic. You get to hear a lot more of that intricacy on Seal II, which houses "Kiss From A Rose" and is also celebrating 20 years of shelf life. Thanks to Trevor Horn's seamless production, Seal's unique take on baroque soul-pop hasn't really aged. I still love popping it in to hear the well-landscaped structures of "Dreaming In Metaphors", "Fast Changes", and "Prayer For The Dying" and hear how they crossed genre boundaries without a flinch. True, this was some heavy-duty stuff for a kid back then to listen to, but I loved it and still love it, and will belt out "Kiss From A Rose" for 20 more years and then some, no shame. In fact, I think I'll turn my wind machine fan on right now....

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