When Seal Bashing is OK

Posted on July 7, 2011 by


by Dalia Bishop

No one loves Seal’s music, and I won’t stand to hear otherwise. In fact, I think one would be hard pressed to find anyone who even likes his music except on YouTube where the binary rating-system “like” vs. “dislike” misrepresents the truth of the matter. The truth is that while a slight fragment of cynical bastards hate Seal’s music or at least despise his less soulful renditions of should-be-soulful standbys (see Seal on “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” where even the horns were on holiday), most people simply abide his music and can’t bring themselves to say a cross word about him.

Let me say now, just to get it out of the way, that Seal isn’t sympathetic because of those facial scars. He’s sympathetic because he’s unassuming. He seems quaint and easy-going, like a cool guy who’d never complain about your vegan barbeque or call your ginger chutney pretentious—no matter how many Grammy awards he amasses, how increasingly hot his wife gets, or how taste-making his sweet-sweet-90s-dreads-á la-Living Single were. With all that easy emoting in his music videos, Seal seems quite sensitive, and sincerely interested in making you groove unexpectedly.

But this is precisely why I count myself among the few bastards who hate Seal. He numbs our sensitivity to life and gets away with it, nay, makes a grip off it. (We’re talking two-to-four-times multi-platinum in several cases!)

Sure, his music focuses on love, relationships, and other tropes of human experience, but it’s toned down to a near faint hum, soft enough to keep your mind from wandering and wondering why you’re still stuck diddling Excel functions. Someone said equations would make life easier, but they don’t.

The rhythm doesn’t quicken your pulse; his voice, although unmistakable, doesn’t shake your soul; and the instrumentation is too indistinguishable for air-riffing. You can’t ever get in the pocket with Seal and I think that, while this (in)experience has its place in the stream of waking consciousness, it violates human nature to commit our love to someone who elicits such a drunken meandering through life. I won’t accept the contention that he just gets you through the work-week, either, because those weeks turn into years and the next thing you know, you’ve Seal’d your life away!

That tight production and ne’er wavering consonance might make Monday’s hangover bearable but suffering exists, and Seal can’t make that go away. Not really. I guess I’m trying to say that humans are sheepishly escapist and it’s fair to finger Seal as heavily profiting off our collective denial.

Come to think of it, I’d finger Seal; he seems so sweet and well-meaning . . .

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