Sade

Smooth Operator

Song Review by

1984 saw the release of breakout song "Smooth Operator" by sultry songstress Sade. After rotation on Top 40, adult contemporary, and alternative radio stations, the Nigeria native instantly became renowned for her silky vocals and lounge-style, sometimes erotic, mood music. Everything about this song is, in fact, smooth -- from the title to its lyrical content, about an international playboy, to the instrumentation, particularly the Latin-style percussion and lusty saxophone line that wafts throughout. Such words as "His eyes are like angels, but his heart is cold/no need to ask, he's a smooth operator" capture the essence of the song, which served as a launching pad for the many hits that were to come by the singer. In a year that was dominated by synth pop music, "Smooth Operator" offered up something different and became a surprise hit that helped pave the way for future vocalists of the same ilk. The early 21st century's Dido, for example, who layers velvety vocals over moody electronic-pop music, owes a bit of thanks to Sade. "Smooth Operator" made such an impact on the music industry that, decades later, the song is still heard on the radio. Its blend of international flavor, fluid sound, and overall seductive tone keep this song firmly positioned as one of music's most creative recordings.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Diamond Life 1984 Epic 4:57
No Image 1984 CBS Records 4:16
Music for the Miracle 1986
Various Artists
Epic 0:00
The Love Collection, Vol. 5 1989
Various Artists
Trax Records 4:21
Best of 1980-1990 1990
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:59
Stardust: Greatest Love 1992
Various Artists
Schmuse Songs, Vol. 2 1992
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Life Promise Pride Love [Video] 1993 Sony Music Distribution 4:06
Midnight Moods: Lighter Side of Jazz 1993
Various Artists
Verve
Cosmopolitan, Vol. 7 1993
Various Artists
Sandstone
Easy Listening [ZYX] 1994
Various Artists
ZYX Music 4:56
No Image 1994 Epic 4:21
Radio City Love Songs, Vol. 3 1994
Various Artists
Columbia
Una Canzone Per Te 2 1994
Various Artists
Publy 4:46
Night Moves, Vol. 1 1995
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 4:59
Siren Song: A Celebration of Women in Music 1996
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:59
Lost and Found: 1979-1987 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:18
Pop Music: The Modern Era 1976-1999 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:16
Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:16
Best for Love 1999 Halahup 4:16
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Realm Records 3:49
Diamond Life/Promise/Love Deluxe 2000 Epic / Sony Music Distribution 4:58
Millennium of Pop 2000
Various Artists
Import 4:15
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Realm Records 3:49
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 3 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
The Finest in Female Vocal Jazz 2003
Various Artists
Edel Contraire / Edel Records 4:59
Lovers Rock/Lovers Live 2003 Epic 0:00
Smooth Vocal Music for Small Rooms 2004
Various Artists
WEA International 4:17
WJJZ 106.1: Smooth Jazz Sampler, Vol. 11 2004
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 4:57
Smooth Jazz 107.5: The Oasis, Vol. 4 2004
Various Artists
Koai / Universal Special Products 4:59
Superballads: The Lady in Red 2004
Various Artists
Megaliner
WSJT 94.1 Smooth Jazz, Vol. 7 2004
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 4:57
Smooth Jazz Sampler 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:59
Hula Jazz, Vol. 2: Smooth Operator 2006
Various Artists
Avex Trax
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Rhino 4:18
Grammy Awards: 50th Anniversary Collection 2008
Various Artists
Shout! Factory
Die Hit Giganten: Hot Hits 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 4:18
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
No Image 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:18
The Ultimate Collection 2011 Epic 4:18
Pure... R&B 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:19
80s Groove, Vol. II 2011
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 4:16
Mix 80's, 90's y Más 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:20
No Image 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music
Chilled R&B: Smooth Classics 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:10
Pure...80s 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:18
No Image 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:17
The Essential Sade 2014 Epic 4:18
La Collection RTL Georges Lang, Vol. 3 2014
Various Artists
Warner Music 4:15
Smooth FM: All Time Top 50, Vol. 2 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:56
Smooth Grooves [Ministry of Sound] 2016
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 4:10
Marek i Marek: Niedzwiecki Sierocki 2018
Various Artists
Polskie Radio
Absolute 80s Unwind
Various Artists
Rhino
De Pre Historie: 1984, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 4:58
Now That's What I Call a Singer
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:16