Born in Nigeria, Shade is a singer, songwriter and actress. She founded the musical group Sade in 1982 and has released six studio albums. One of the most popular hits of the group is the composition “Smooth Operator”, created in 1984.
History of the creation of Smooth operator – sade
The song was written by Sade and her bandmate Ray St. John. The composition became a decoration of the debut album “Diamond Life”, after the release of which the success of Shade became truly enormous.
In English, the title of this song is ambiguous. In this particular situation, it’s about a donjouan who cleverly charms girls, manipulates their feelings and cynically uses them. The line “From coast to coast, from Los Angeles to Chicago… venal love” suggests that the character of the composition, plus other “surprises”, also lives off women.
The title of the song caused a lot of jokes – like a parody about the operator lathe. The singer herself in one of the interviews joked, revealing the meaning of the title of the song as “a nimble surgeon”.
By the way, the song (as well as a video to it) is available in two versions – short and full (where the singer dilutes the singing with a few lines).
Musically, the song is a mix of jazz and soul with elements of funk and R&B. Shade’s smooth vocals are accompanied by saxophone, keyboards and percussion, creating a sensual and sophisticated sound. The performance of the song is understated and elegant, with each element in its place.
The brass section is one of the song’s outstanding features, and Stuart Matthewman’s saxophone playing creates a flowing atmosphere. Percussion, played by Paul Cook, creates a subtle and danceable rhythm.
The video clip for the song appeared in 1984. It was created by the writer and director from Britain Julien Temple. The video version strengthens the message of the song. The main character is shown as a hardened criminal. In one episode he shows an interested customer a gun, and in other episodes he is shown as an entrepreneur, much to the liking of the ladies. The man manages to fool the police and disappear, but the cops don’t stop following him. In the extended version of the video, Shade has reworked the plot: she cooperates with law enforcement and hides in a club (where she sings in the first part of the clip) and late at night finds the criminal returning. The girl accidentally snags the equipment, the man spots her and chases her up the stairs. The building is surrounded by police. The character intends to escape through the roof, but is shot. The man falls down and crashes to his death…
The music video was nominated twice for the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards. Oddly enough, the music video did not win any awards. That seems unfair, since it was made like a cool 80’s Hollywood action movie!
“Smooth Operator” was a huge commercial success for the singer. The composition reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 US chart and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs US chart. The song was also in the top 10 in several other countries, including the U.K., Canada and Australia.
The song was praised for its sophistication and elegance, and it helped Shada establish herself in the music industry. The band’s unique sound helped set it apart from other bands of the 1980s.
“Smooth Operator” became a 1980s music classic and is often played on radio stations to this day. In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Shade reflected on the song’s legacy, saying: “It seems to resonate with people of all ages. I never would have thought it would have such an effect. I didn’t try too hard to portray anyone when I wrote it, I just sang it as it was.”
The meaning of the song Smooth operator – Sade
Charming Sade in this song sings about a man who knows how to take advantage of women. He’s irresistible, damn attractive, smart… Easily breaks women’s hearts, plays on their soul strings… With his angelic look this man is able to melt the heart of any lady. But he himself remains callous and unfeeling…
And although it is not clear what happened to the lyrical heroine with this handsome man, one thing is certain: you’ll just cry and get a ton of biting memories from such lovers, but you won’t be happy. As the saying goes: “I thought this is it – happiness, but no – again the experience.
Smooth Operator is said to have been inspired by one of Shadeh’s ex-boyfriends. In an interview with NPR, the singer said the song was “about a character I described, in a ‘Smooth Operator’ kind of way. The inspiration for the character came from a male playboy she used to date. The song is full of metaphors and images that paint a picture of this mysterious, seductive figure.
“Smooth Operator” is a song that has stood the test of time, becoming a 1980s music classic. It has been loved by music lovers all over the world, and its influence on the music industry is still felt today.