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Sade - Smooth Operator (1984)

  • Video Views 71,350,856
  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 1.81

"Smooth Operator" is a song by English band Sade from their debut studio album, Diamond Life (1984). It was released as the ...

"Smooth Operator" is a song by English band Sade from their debut studio album, Diamond Life (1984). It was released as the album's third single in the United Kingdom as a 7-inch single with "Spirit" as its B-side, and as a 12-inch maxi single with "Smooth Operator" and "Red Eye" on side A and "Spirit" on side B.

In the United States, "Smooth Operator" was released in February 1985, serving as the album's second US single. The song became Sade's first top-10 entry in the US, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in May 1985. It spent 13 weeks in the top 40, and also topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for two weeks. Although "Your Love Is King" remains Sade's highest-peaking single in the UK to date, "Smooth Operator" is the band's breakthrough single on the US charts, and their most successful single internationally.

Composition and lyrics

"Smooth Operator" is about a fashionable, con-man who moves with the Café society. He is popular with women and breaks many hearts. The lyrics "Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago. Western male, across the North and South to Key Largo. Love for sale" imply that he also uses women to obtain his income. It is also clear that he does not hold sincere affection for these women, as Adu sings near the end, "his heart is cold".

The video to this song reinforces the message, and the operator appears to be a professional criminal. In one scene, he displays a gun to an interested customer, and in others, he appears to be a pimp. Apparently, he succeeds in evading law enforcement, who have him under surveillance. However, as revealed in the extended version of the video, which contains the composition "Red Eye" (played after the song in 12-inch single release), Sade, cooperating with the police, hides behind the nightclub equipment and sees the criminal return to the club. Then she bumps into a box, causing the noise and the criminal to chase after her. When the police arrives outside, he tries to escape from them from rooftop to rooftop until he is shot and then falls from a rooftop to his death.

This song is noted for Adu's spoken recitation in the song's introduction. Some radio edits have omitted the spoken introduction and proceeded with the opening sung line of the title of the album, "Diamond Life". Some radio edits have shortened the instrumental saxophone solo, as well as the first repeat of the lines that come after the chorus portions.