’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Kiss From A Rose”
The ninetieth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal. This track was the British singer’s only chart-topper in the United States, spending one week atop the Billboard Hot 100 due partly to exposure in the terrible film Batman Forever. Prior to “Rose,” Seal had sent three tracks onto the charts, all of them absolutely fantastic: “Crazy” (peak: 7) in 1991, “Killer” (peak: 100) in 1992, and “Prayer For the Dying” (peak: 21), one of the best songs of 1994. Following the success of “Rose,” Seal would chart in the U.S. four more times, with his most successful release being a remake of “Fly Like An Eagle” (peak: 10) in 1997. He hasn’t had a hit in the U.S. since 2003, when “Waiting For You,” an undervalued track, reached No. 89 (but No. 1 on the U.S. Dance chart). He continues to release new music.
Seal has a raspy, soulful voice that lends a depth and credibility to his work. This gift helps make “Kiss From A Rose” sound like an insightful metaphor even though nobody knows what it means. (It is widely speculated that the song is about drugs, but Seal won’t say.) The song is a pretty waltz with dramatic flair, stylistically a bit out of step with the trends of 1995. It was a critical darling, winning the coveted Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and, amazingly, charting on the Adult Contemporary, R&B/Hip-Hop and Modern Rock charts, in addition to the Hot 100.
Let’s listen to “Kiss From A Rose”:
Like Bryan Adams, George Michael and arguably Michael Jackson, Seal made some wonderful music in the ’90s that happens not to be his most successful. “Kiss From A Rose” is a nice song, but it’s not as good as “Crazy,” “Killer” and “Prayer For The Dying,” which were masterpieces, and it’s about on par with “Don’t Cry,” “Love’s Divine” and “Waiting For You,” which weren’t particularly popular. But we’re very glad Seal had a chart-topper so that we’d have an excuse to discuss and praise him.
Was it dope? This track was mellow and palatable, but perhaps not as dope as some of the singles a bit further down the Hot 100 the week this spent at No. 1, including “One More Chance” by Notorious B.I.G., and “Brown Sugar” by D’Angelo. But Seal always had a cool aura about him; he simultaneously looked both sexy and off-putting, and it was always difficult to categorize him artistically.
Does it hold up? Seal doesn’t seem to get the respect he deserves, in our opinion. He’s a great artist and an important contributor to the decade. This song has endured decently well, being commonly covered and garnering 21 million views on YouTube over 7 years — good but not great. We don’t tend to hear this song too often, although it was featured recently on the miniseries The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Dopeness: 3 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?