If you turn on the radio pretty much anywhere you go, there's a good chance that you'll hear Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" at some point. I'm speaking from experience, having grown up listening to Fairfield County's WEBE 108, the Mecca of easy listening, on the way to school every morning. And that's more than 20 years after the song's initial release. So it's not a total shock that there's a scene in Vacation where "Kiss From a Rose" plays. The latest installment of National Lampoon's Vacation franchise has the song first crop up when the Griswolds start their cross-country odyssey to Walley World, where patriarch Rusty Griswold spent a memorable childhood summer he hopes to recreate.
The scene starts with Rusty's (Ed Helms) son James, in a not-so-subtle wink-wink-nudge-nudge to the original films, say,"I've never even heard of the original vacation. "Doesn't matter," Rusty replies. “The new vacation will stand on its own." Right after, Rusty flicks on the radio and lands on Seal's 1994 hit — "I love this song!" he exclaims (with a suspicious amount of enthusiasm for the song, causing the rest of his family to roll their eyes audibly). He encourages them all to sing along, but sadly, none oblige.
The scene, as well as the song's several other brief appearances in the film, will likely have audiences singing along unconsciously, even if not willingly. It's a tune that is much more part of the cultural collective consciousness than it is any person's song of choice (right??), and since its first appearance in 1995's Batman Forever, it has been covered and adapted for television, film, and even video games. So, at risk of getting it stuck in your head for the rest of forever, here are just a few of its most memorable instances in pop culture of the past two decades.
Halfway through the second season of Shameless, Jody reveals that he experiences his best orgasms when he has sex listening to the Seal track. As he reaches his climax, he shouts, "My power, my pleasure, my pain!" and "Kiss From A Rose" cuts in.
2. Batman Forever
Perhaps the film most credited with catapulting "Kiss From A Rose" into the spotlight, Batman Forever's soundtrack features a new edit of the song. It also spawned a separate music video featuring Seal singing in front of the Batman avatar, interspersed with clips from the film.
Jeff and Dean Pelton sing an improbable duet in Community — though Jeff initially resists, he eventually succumbs to the slow jam of "Kiss From A Rose." He's publicly shamed, though, when Dean Pelton posts their video online.
4. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
In an episode entitled "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops," Dee starts an online flirtation with a soldier returning from Iraq. She waits for his bus to arrive, boombox in hand, dressed like a rose and prepared to serenade him with "Kiss From A Rose," but when she finds that he's wheelchair-bound, she flees his homecoming. Later, she learns that he is not actually disabled, and for a brief moment, picks up her serenade once more before a wrestler cuts her off by breaking her nose.
Midway through Season 5 of Bones, Brennan and Booth attend Brennan's high school reunion — and, surprise, end up investigating a murder. They also slow-dance to "Kiss From A Rose" while undercover as a married couple.
6. The Neverending Story III: Escape From Fantasia
"Kiss From A Rose" actually appeared in film even before Batman Forever, in 1994's The NeverEnding Story III: Escape From Fantasia. It didn't spawn its own music video, though, so the legacy still belongs to Val Kilmer.
7. Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story
The cast of Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story performed "Kiss From A Rose" live for Imagine TV late last year. It's emotive and infectious and everything that the original song demands.
"Kiss From A Rose" has also inspired countless covers and tributes — Jack Black covered it for American Idol (perhaps poking fun at all the performers who cover it on the show), while a cappella group Straight No Chaser recorded a version with Seal himself. Though it's not funny in itself, the song is hilarious in situation — which is why its countless appearances in Vacation are sure to inspire both laughs and tears, because you'll never get it out of your head.
Images: FX; Fox