I like Total, always have. Their brand of interesting-note sonics always appealed to me as a person who couldn’t sing but always thought I should be an R&B singer—Total was an inspiration. I never dove full-fledge into sharing my vocal stylings with the world, but the dream is still alive in my heart. For the record, I don’t think Total couldn’t sing, but I wouldn’t debate you if you were to say they couldn’t either.
In the same vein of “hmm, this is interesting,” comes the video for Total’s third single off of their self-titled debut, the Raphael Saadiq co-written and produced, “Kissing You.” I love this song and have loved it since 1996. Something else has happened since 1996, too.
And that’s the reason why this video is on the list of iconic black music videos.
I have no earthly idea what the fuck is happening in this video, what is attempting to be conveyed or anything. If you were to tell me this video was the inspiration for The Adjustment Bureau, which wouldn’t come out until 2010, I’d believe you.
Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense. It never has. It doesn’t even match the song lyrics—which isn’t necessary. And that would be well and good except they attempted a story and it doesn’t make sense. And never has. And that’s okay, or would be, except folks have literally been trying to understand this video since it came out. How do I know this?
I went onto Google and typed in “Total Kissin You video” and the “Total Kissin’ You video meaning” self-populated. Even Google doesn’t know what the fuck it’s about and after God, Google knows everything. Honestly, I’m amazed that there isn’t some article online somewhere that explains it. Maybe because it came out before the Al Gore’s internet was a thing thing and before niggas who thinkpiece (raises hand) started thinkpiecing shit to death it never got it’s just due.
True story time: Last year I was on a panel for BroccoliCon, the conference arm of Broccoli City Festival and before my panel, I attended a talk that featured (I believe) Kima from Total. When it came to the Q&A portion of the talk, it took everything in my soul not to waste everybody’s time and get up and ask “Hi, Panama Jackson from VerySmartBrothas.com, really love your shoes. So, what the fuck was the story in the ‘Kissin’ You’ video? This is the stuff my readers want to know about. Thank you, Baaaaaaaaad Boy.”
I didn’t. I should have. For the 10 of us who care. Either way, that’s what makes it an iconic video: it’s literally been on my mind for 24 years and I’m guessing nobody will ever know.
And that, my friends, is iconic.