In the summer of 1995, Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" was everywhere. As the song played over the end credits to the year's blockbuster Batman Forever, the emotional ballad quickly rose to the highest heights of the Billboard Hot 100 - topping the chart the week ending Aug. 26 - and became the year's fourth-biggest single in America, winning three Grammy Awards, including Record and Song of the Year. Not bad for a song that had been kicking around in relative obscurity for a year!
That's right: while "Kiss from a Rose" was one of music's success stories in '95, Seal fans had already heard it for at least a year, as part of the British singer's second album Seal (not to be confused with his first album, also titled Seal and released in 1991). And its origins stretched back even further that that.
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"I wrote it about three years before I was even signed, before I had a deal," Seal told Genius in 2015. "It is really old." The song's layered, classically-inspired vocals were a part of that first demo, but he never played it for producer Trevor Horn, admitting he was embarrassed by what he had. But after a friend who heard the tape told Horn about it, he eventually wore his artist down.
"I like what Trevor did with the recording," Seal eventually admitted. "He turned that tape from my corner into another 8 million record sales and my name became a household name." Although it was only a modest hit in the U.K. when released in 1994 - reaching the Top 20 there - it would soar back up to No. 4 when the Caped Crusader came calling.
Today, "Kiss from a Rose" is a bona fide classic: Seal's most-streamed song, a '90s R&B favorite, and proof that Prince didn't have a monopoly on Batman-related hit singles. But one question still remains: what is the song - heavy on vivid images of greying towers, snowy nights and love-as-addiction - actually about? Only one person knows, and he's not telling.
"I have avoided explaining these lyrics for over 25 years," Seal said in that Genius interview. "I am not going to start doing it now."