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’It Was A Failure’: Seal Shares How Batman Forever Saved His Career

 Val Kilmer in batsuit in Batman Forever.
Val Kilmer in batsuit in Batman Forever.

Batman Forever is not the most popular in the long series of Batman movies, it may not be a movie you watch unless you decide to marathon the Batman movies in order, but it almost certainly has the most popular song ever associated with a Batman movie. “Kiss From a Rose” was an absolute smash that made Seal a global star and won him three Grammy awards. But you may not be aware that before the song was a hit, it had already been a flop-- one that might have ended Seal’s career if it weren’t for Joel Schumacher.

In a video posted to Twitter by Seal himself, he tells the story that the song was originally released in the summer of 1994, a year before Batman Forever hit theaters. But the song flopped, essentially ending the promotion of Seal’s second studio album. But he was then called by director Joel Schumacher, who was a fan and was looking for a song. Seal explained…

What some of you may not know about that song is that it was a failure when it first got released in ‘93-’94, thereabouts. Went into the charts at number 60, dropped to number 80-something the next week, and that was the end of it. It was over, the promotion of that second album was done. I received a phone call from one mister Joel Schumacher. He said to me, ‘Seal, I’m a huge fan of yours. I’ve just finished making this movie called Batman Forever. I’m looking for a song for the love scene between Nicole Kidman and Val Kilmer. Do you have anything?’ And I said ‘Well, I don’t Joel. I finished promoting my second album.’

While he initially told Schumacher he didn’t have anything to give him, he ultimately gave him “Kiss From a Rose,” which had actually been part of the soundtrack to another movie, The NeverEnding Story III, already. Schumacher apparently took the song to try in the movie, which, if you’ve seen Batman Forever you know isn’t how the song appears in the film. That was the Joel Schumacher decision that likely changed everything for Seal. He continued…

The next day Joel called back and he said ‘Look, I’ve temped it in the love scene. It doesn’t work, but I love the song so much, I’m just going to stick it one the end credits.’ Four Grammys later and another eight million albums. Subsequently, kids thought I was Batman because the song was so big. I owe my career, I guess, in large part to Joel Schumacher who took a chance.

It is remarkable to think that “Kiss From a Rose,” one of the biggest pop hits of its decade, came so close to being forgotten. Given its initial failure, if Schumacher had simply decided the song didn’t work in the movie it still wouldn’t have become the hit that it became. Of everything that happened behind the scenes of Batman Forever, this may have been the biggest decision. It was ultimately because the director loved the song that he found a place for it. As Seal says, he may owe his career to Joel Schumacher.

A movie like Batman Forever, a film based on one of the most popular comic book characters ever, is the sort of film that is going to continue to attract fans for decades. And when it does, more people will discover “Kiss From a Rose.” The song is almost guaranteed to stand the test of time and become a true classic. With at least two upcoming Batman movies, we'll have to wait and see if either of them even tries to outdo this one.