There’s a long history in rock and pop of artists who grow to hate some of the songs that made them famous. Kurt Cobain ended up detesting Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, while Led Zeppelin’s frontman, Robert Plant, became weary of Stairway To Heaven. The Who’s Pete Townsend cringed whenever he heard Pinball Wizard while Oasis’ outspoken singer, Liam Gallagher, loathed his band’s iconic anthem Wonderwall, once confessing to an interviewer: “I can’t fucking stand that fucking song.” And then there is Seal, who has also had an uneasy relationship with arguably his most famous hit, Kiss From A Rose, despite it causing his career to blossom in the mid-90s.
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“The song started off as an experiment”
The husky-voiced London singer had first appeared on the pop radar in 1990, when he provided a memorable vocal cameo on Adamski’s chart-topping dance track, Killer. The single’s success made Seal hot property, resulting in a record-company bidding war to get his signature; he ended up rejecting the majors and instead joined producer Trevor Horn’s art-house label, ZTT, which had been home to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Propaganda and Grace Jones in the 80s. With his glossy high-tech production values, Horn transformed Seal into an instant star; the singer’s debut single, Crazy, shot to No.2 in the UK charts, paving the way for Seal’s self-titled debut album to rocket to the top of the UK albums chart.
Three years passed before Seal released a follow-up. Also self-titled, Seal’s 1994 album (often referred to as “Seal II”) was again produced by Horn, and its first single, Prayer For The Dying, soon scaled the charts. It’s follow-up, however, was very different compared to the rest of the album; titled Kiss From A Rose, it was arranged in waltz times and radiated a medieval folk quality. Brought to life by Seal’s layered, multi-tracked vocals and arranger Anne Dudley’s lush orchestration, the song sounded different to anything else in the charts at the time.