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Best Seal Songs: 20 Essential Tracks From The Iconic UK Soul Singer
List & Guides

Best Seal Songs: 20 Essential Tracks From The Iconic UK Soul Singer

The best Seal songs reveal an artist with a unique voice whose killer hooks and poetic lyrics straddle the worlds of pop, soul and jazz.

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Seal belongs to an elite club whose other members include Madonna, Prince, Björk, Beck, and Beyoncé: all performers who go by one name. The London-born singer-songwriter rose to fame in 1990 as the co-writer and featured singer of DJ Adamski’s UK chart-topping single Killer, before signing a record deal with ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood producer Trevor Horn’s ZTT label, under whose aegis the best Seal songs defined a strain of UK pop in the 90s.

Marrying pop, rock and dance music, and surrounding his protégé’s husky, soul-infused delivery with dazzling high-tech production artifice, Horn helped transform the singer born Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel into a global household name in the 90s, via enormous hit singles such as Crazy and Kiss From A Rose. In his later years, Seal evolved as a singer, broadening his palette and showing deeper artistry by exploring the worlds of soul and jazz music with albums that interpreted standards from the two genres.

For those seeking out his finest musical moments, here’s our countdown of the best Seal songs.

Listen to the best of Seal here, and check our out best Seal songs, below.

20: Bring It On (from ‘Seal’, 1994)

This infectious chunk of driving pop-funk, about meeting destiny head-on, was co-written by and featured guitarist Wendy Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman, former members of Prince’s band The Revolution. Produced by Trevor Horn, it appeared as both the opening and closing cut on Seal’s self-titled 1994 album.

19: This Could Be Heaven (from ‘The Family Man: Music From The Motion Picture’, 2001)

This uplifting ballad with gospel overtones appeared on the soundtrack to The Family Man, a romantic fantasy comedy-drama starring Nicolas Cage and Téa Leoni. The song was originally intended to be released as part of Togetherland, an album that Seal’s record company persuaded him to shelve because they deemed it an uncommercial project. Asserting its place among the best Seal songs, This Could Be Heaven made No.23 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.

18: Newborn Friend (from ‘Seal’, 1994)

“I wash my faith in dirty water,” sings Seal in a striking opening line which finds him examining himself and his beliefs, and concluding that he is trying to please others as opposed to being true to himself. Through his soul-searching self-analysis, Seal decides that, if he is more honest with himself, he’ll lose his doubt and cynicism and gain an optimistic innocence; he will become a “newborn friend for the world”.

17: Don’t Cry (from ‘Seal’, 1994)

Offering a comforting message of reassurance among the best Seal songs, Don’t Cry was the fourth and final single lifted from the singer’s second album, 1994’s Seal. A searing, dramatic power ballad, the song finds Seal’s plaintive vocals framed by Trevor Horn’s epic production style – a mesh of piano, synths, strings and even slivers of jazzy trumpet on the fade. The track reached No.4 on the US Adult Contemporary chart.

16: Secret (from ‘6: Commitment’, 2010)

This gentle self-penned ballad about a clandestine love affair was helmed by the Canadian producer David Foster, who had worked his magic on Seal’s 2008 album, the R&B covers set, Soul. Lifted as the first single from that record’s follow-up, 6: Commitment – which, despite its title, was Seal’s seventh album – Secret showed that, in the 21st century, the best Seal songs had begun to move away from the edginess of his earlier work, taking a sure-footed step toward the pop mainstream.

15: The Beginning (from ‘Seal’, 1991)

The aptly-titled opening track on Seal’s self-titled debut album, The Beginning was co-written by the singer with early collaborator Guy Sigsworth, and, with its exultant mood, pumping house beats and rousing anthemic chorus, had its crosshairs firmly fixed on the dancefloor. The third single lifted from Seal, The Beginning enjoyed a six-week chart run in the UK, peaking at No.24.

14: Stand By Me (from ‘Soul’, 2008)

After five albums of self-penned material, Seal’s sixth album, Soul, marked a stylistic departure by being devoted to cover versions of some of the best soul songs[https://www.thisisdig.com/feature/best-soul-songs/] of all time, ranging from Sam Cooke’s 1964 civil-rights anthem A Change Is Gonna Come to Deniece Williams’ 1976 hit, Free. Entering the ranks of the best Seal songs was an indelible repurposing of Ben E King’s Stand By Me[https://www.thisisdig.com/feature/stand-by-me-ben-e-king-song-story/], a much-loved tune that has spawned over 400 cover versions. Helmed by the multi-Grammy-winning Canadian pop producer David Foster, Seal’s version was no by-the-numbers karaoke-style rehash. Rather, it showed how the singer could convincingly inject a soulful authenticity into an iconic pop song.

14: Stand By Me (from ‘Soul’, 2008)

After five albums of self-penned material, Seal’s sixth album, Soul, marked a stylistic departure by being devoted to cover versions of some of the best soul songs of all time, ranging from Sam Cooke’s 1964 civil-rights anthem A Change Is Gonna Come to Deniece Williams’ 1976 hit, Free. Entering the ranks of the best Seal songs was an indelible repurposing of Ben E King’s Stand By Me, a much-loved tune that has spawned over 400 cover versions. Helmed by the multi-Grammy-winning Canadian pop producer David Foster, Seal’s version was no by-the-numbers karaoke-style rehash. Rather, it showed how the singer could convincingly inject a soulful authenticity into an iconic pop song.

13: My Funny Valentine (from ‘Standards’, 2017)

After his success with two collections of R&B covers (2008’s platinum-selling Soul and its gold-selling sequel, 2011’s Soul 2), Seal turned his attention to the Great American Songbook with his tenth studio offering, Standards, which included his sensitive interpretation of Rodgers and Hart’s wistful 1930s ballad, My Funny Valentine. A surprising stylistic deviation from what he’d done before, the album was the realisation of a long-held desire to pay homage to Frank Sinatra. “This is the album I have always wanted to make,” Seal said at the time. “I grew up listening to music from the Rat Pack era, so recording these timeless tunes was a lifelong dream.”

12: It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World (from ‘Soul’, 2008)

Seal pushed his voice to do things he’d never done before – like singing in a falsetto range – on the Soul album, which included a fine remake of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World, the iconic James Brown number that the “Godfather Of Soul” took to the top of the US R&B charts in 1966. Producer David Foster had helmed records by soul singers Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, and this track holds a distinguished place among the best Seal songs, thanks to the dynamic string and horn arrangements by veteran jazz arranger Don Sebesky.

11: Violet (from ‘Seal’, 1991)

Meandering along like a woozy, blissful daydream, Violet is a freewheeling mood piece in which synths and an acoustic piano entwine over a gently percolating drum beat. Impressionistic and richly evocative, the eight-and-a-half-minute track shows Seal at his jazziest; the mysterious atmosphere is deepened by fragments of movie dialogue woven into the musical fabric, all plucked from director Michael Cimino’s 1987 movie, The Sicilian, starring Christopher Lambert as a bandit who seeks to liberate Sicily from Italy. Apparently, Seal was so taken with the film that it inspired him to write Violet, which closed his debut album on a mellow high. A stripped-down acoustic rendition of the track (just piano and voice) was released as Seal’s fifth single, reaching No.39 in February 1992.

10: Human Beings (from ‘Human Being’, 1998)

Four years passed between the release of Seal’s second album, Seal, and his third, Human Beings, which saw him return to the studio with über-producer Trevor Horn. The album’s title track, with its fusion of intense emotion and high production values, focuses on the fragility of human life and was inspired by the tragic deaths of US rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G, showing how the best Seal songs could also engage with real-word events, with effective results.

9: Future Love Paradise (from ‘Seal’, 1991)

The second single from Seal’s eponymous debut album, this self-penned track, built on a churning bassline, is a utopian hymn that finds the singer envisioning a better world where “all the queens will gather round spreading love and unity”. Featuring his rugged, emotive vocals, framed by Horn’s cinematic production values, Future Love Paradise was issued as the lead song on the three-track Future Love EP, and it rose to No.12 in the UK.

8: Get It Together (from ‘Seal IV’, 2003)

Co-written with co-producer Mark Batson, this anthem espousing unity and positive vibes exuded an old-school R&B feel, with traces of 70s soul giants Curtis Mayfield and Al Green in its musical DNA. The track was the first single lifted from Seal IV, an album that came in the wake of an aborted collection of songs called Togetherland that was scheduled for a 2001 release before being shelved. One of the best Seal songs of the era, Get It Together put the singer back in the UK Top 30 after a seven-year absence. In the US, it topped Billboard’s dance chart.

7: Amazing (from ‘System’, 2007)

Seal was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category with this track, the lead single from his fifth album, System, which had the distinction of being his first record not to involve producer and mentor Trevor Horn. (Stuart Price, who had previously worked with Madonna, New Order, and The Killers, handled production). An anthemic tune welded to a dance beat, Amazing topped the US dance listing and hit the Top 10 in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

6: Fly Like An Eagle (from ‘Space Jam: Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture’, 2004)

Featured in the 1996 movie Space Jam, and later included on Best: 1991-2004, Fly Like An Eagle was Seal’s tasteful reworking of a song that US rock musician Steve Miller wrote and took into the Top 5 of the US pop charts in 1976. Seal was persuaded to record it by the movie’s executive producer; his version featured future neo-soul architect D’Angelo on keyboards and also sampled part of a synthesiser track called Space Intro, from Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle album. Picked for single release, Seal’s take on Fly Like An Eagle soared to No.10 in the US Hot 100 and landed at No.13 in the UK. Seal later revealed that Miller called to thank him for reviving the song, describing it as “the best cover of the song that he had heard”.

5: Prayer For The Dying (from ‘Seal’, 1994)

In an unusual move, Seal gave his second album the same title as his debut record, though his fans quickly distinguished it from its predecessor by dubbing it “Seal II”. The set’s lead single was Prayer For The Dying, an upbeat pop-funk anthem about “playing with fire and not getting burned”, and prising hope from the jaws of despair. Easily one of the best Seal songs, it rose to No.3 on Billboard’s American Alternative Airplay chart and reached No.2 in Canada.

4: Love’s Divine (From ‘Seal IV’, 2003)

In this uplifting beat ballad co-written with US songwriter Mark Batson – whose credits range from Alicia Keys to Eminem – Seal sings about the empowering quality of love and its role in facilitating personal redemption, while producer Trevor Horn creates a widescreen backdrop with soaring strings and celestial keyboards. The second single from Seal IV, Love’s Divine offered a transcendental listening experience that topped US dance chart.

3: Killer (From ‘Seal,’ 1991)

This hypnotic track, with its heavy, ominous beat, helped introduce Seal to the wider world: a complete unknown, he co-wrote and provided guest vocals on acid-house DJ and producer Adamski’s original 1990 recording, which topped the UK singles chart. Seal’s own version of Killer was issued in late 1991 as the fourth single from his debut album, and it peaked at No.8 in the UK, courtesy of a sweepingly cinematic production from Trevor Horn. An army of remixers had an opportunity to tweak the track for the dance market, including William Orbit, whose throbbing house version reached No.9 on the US dance chart. In 2005, a set of newly commissioned remixes unleashed Killer on the public again, propelling it to the top of Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play listing.

2: Crazy (from ‘Seal’, 1991)

Defined by oblique lyrics suggesting that humans thrive when they think and act “outside the box”, Crazy is said to have been written by Seal in 1989, after the singer watched two cataclysmic events on TV: students protesting about the Chinese government in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square; and the collapse of Eastern European communism, as symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Crazy was released in late 1990 as Seal’s debut single and offers an inspired collision of soulful vocals on a funked-up bed of dazzling keyboards sculpted by Trevor Horn’s high-tech production values. The song peaked at No.2 in the UK during a 15-week chart run.

1: Kiss From A Rose (from ‘Seal’, 1994)

Topping our countdown of the best Seal songs is an iconic track imbued with a medieval folk flavour that the London-born singer-songwriter wrote back in 1987, four years before he signed a record deal. Initially viewing the song as an unconvincing experiment, Seal later admitted he was embarrassed by it, and discarded the track until being pressured by Horn to include it on his second album, 1994’s Seal. Kiss From A Rose was released as the set’s second single, and its popularity rapidly ballooned after it was featured in the soundtrack to the hit movie Batman Forever, which helped it climb to No.4 in the UK and No.1 in the US. Despite his initial reservation about the song – which, stylistically, went against the grain of 90s pop – to date, Kiss From A Rose is Seal’s most-streamed track on Spotify.

Read the full story behind Kiss From A Rose.

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