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DAR Music: The Best Sade Songs

By @TrueGodImmortal 

For years, I've been pretty much in love with Sade Adu. There was always something about this graceful, talented, and beautiful woman that captivated me even at a young age. My first musical introductions were to three artists as a very young child: Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, and Prince. My mother would play these records all the time. It was shortly after that when I would be watching TV with her and see this gorgeous woman on the screen. This jazzy rhythm was enthralling, the sounds were soothing and her voice sung the lyrics "Smooth Operator... Smooooth operator..." beautifully while the sounds of horns floated through the background. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Sade wasn't just a solo singer, she was essentially a part of a band. For many are unaware that Sade was a band, but as a child I understood them to be the band and she was the lead singer... it just so happened the band was basically named after her. As I went through the later kid years and the teenage moments, I'd drift more to hip hop and away from Sade. Later in life, as I got older, I'd rediscover my love for her, as I would revisit her classic album Diamond Life, which I still believe is one of the greatest debut albums of all time and her best album. I'd also revisit Love Deluxe, which has been seen as her best by the masses (to me it's her second best), and I would gain an adult appreciation for her and her music. I was no longer the younger child enamored with the sound and the look of Sade, but now as an adult, I saw the genius within her, how she did things a certain way, and why her music touched minds and souls of the listeners. I would be so in tune with her music, that I made a point to include songs that sampled her music on my albums. Each and every one of them. It was paying homage in many ways. Though her discography could be seen as short, her catalog is vast and features an array of amazing songs and sounds that still resonate and live on with us as fans forever. Today, we are listing our favorite Sade songs and her greatest tracks. Let's get into it.

*Smooth Operator
(Diamond Life, 1984)

-I was taken aback when I first heard this even though I didn't quite understand the musicality within it. Many people credit this as the best Sade song and though I don't necessarily agree with that notion, it is certainly one of the best. It's where we got introduced to her smooth vocals, her slight insecurity displayed in the lyrics, her cool reserved way of conveying the emotions behind it, and the delivery in the entire song is just simple perfection.

*Your Love Is King 
(Diamond Life, 1984)

-If there was ever a song that truly captured what it was that made Sade so captivating, this is the one. The way her vocals are layered, the way the production hits with a smooth yet gloriously resounding feel, and the build up to the hook makes this one an all time classic. The way her voice gets even deeper during the hook  also is an underrated element of this song. Everything she does here is amazing, making this song a classic. It would also be our first introduction to her.

*Hang On To Your Love
(Diamond Life, 1984)

-This is probably the most upbeat of the songs on her album, and the drums have a bit of a bounce to them and the guitar riff also provides a bit of a bounce as well. The hook is really great here, as the infectious "Hang On... To Your Love.." remains stuck in my head as I write this list and won't go away. Another Sade classic that helped us get introduced to one of the greatest women in music we'd ever see.

*Frankie's First Affair
(Diamond Life, 1984)

-There was something about this particular track that just keeps me interested. I listen to it over and over, as the vocals and the resounding production elevated the music to a higher level. Speaking of an obvious affair and a heartbreaking moment that could be seen as a continuation of the narrative painted on "Smooth Operator ", this is one of my favorite songs from Sade and the way it is orchestrated is what makes it THAT much better. From the breaks in the drum pattern to the clashing of the horns under her vocals, this is certainly an amazing track and one of the best.

(Diamond Life, 1984)

-This is glorious. Every song from Sade can be listened to in a lounge, but this particular track has a very smooth, lounge feel to it that's higher than the others. Maybe it's the muted feel of the instruments as if they're drifting off into the background behind the bass guitar and small drum hits, but there's a jazz lounge vibe here that I love. Sade really brings her best on this one and it is definitely one of the stronger songs on Diamond Life that isn't one of the classic singles.

*Is It A Crime 
(Promise, 1985)

-I remember hearing this song and thinking to myself as a youth, "damn this is great", and while the sentiment is echoed is also shared today, it is followed up by "wow, the intensity in this song is truly underrated", and it really is. The way the verses and bridge build up to that huge breakdown before smoothing out into the "Is It A Crime" beginning of the hook is brilliant. The intensity in the drums, the rising vibration in the horns, the solid sound of the strings, and of course, the vocals from Sade herself just makes this particular song a true classic in every sense of the word.

*The Sweetest Taboo 
(Promise, 1985)

-In what is almost a more upbeat track from the band, this song is one of the more famous ones in the catalog of Ms. Adu. One thing about it is that the drum hits are almost calypso like in essence, almost giving this song an island feel, which adds to the elevation of the song. The way Sade seamlessly moves from the bridge to the hook to the verse is what makes this song magnificent and this is certainly an all time classic.

(Promise, 1985)

-One of my personal favorites and if you've heard my music, you know this one holds a special place with me. I remember listening to this song during a tough time in my life and just allowing the song itself to relax me through those moments. The opening horns were truly something that catches your ear and instantly calms you down. While the lyrical content isn't necessarily something that calms the soul, I tend to just vibe with the song and let it play time and time again, and the sounds and production are what elevates it even higher. Brilliance.

*Tar Baby 
(Promise, 1985)

-Upon seeing the title, you might assume that the song is a reference to some form of racist term utilized, but in this case it is seemingly used to reference an unwanted child and unwanted pregnancy. It is a crazy concept in essence, because said unwanted child and pregnancy starts out at the worst point of disappointment and hurt, but it ends seemingly in the child becoming accepted and loved. It's a tough song to pull off, but the story builds and in the end, the content is something that I'm sure many have related to in a way. If anything, the song is an underrated gem in her catalog.

*Love Is Stronger Than Pride 
(Stronger Than Pride, 1988)

-This is a very minimalist track in terms of everything from vocals to production and it is refreshing honestly. There's an atmospheric vibe in the production, with resounding tribal esque drums that allow Sade to express through almost hymn like vocals that she is still in love with someone that perhaps she shouldn't be. One thing I noticed about the songs on this particular album is that they took a more upbeat, slightly booming sound versus the laid back and completely jazzy vibe that was employed for the first two albums. The end result all worked out, as this song manages to tug at the heart strings some, but also be relatable in essence.

(Stronger Than Pride, 1988)

-This honestly reminds me of an African rhythm beat as it begins. It just has the tribal feel to it, and as Sade comes in with her "I'd give you the world if it was mine", it's at this moment that you get captured by the music. The song is about 4 minutes of true greatness compounded by the sweet production and once again, flawless vocals by Ms. Adu.

*Nothing Can Come Between Us
(Stronger Than Pride, 1988)

-I love this song. The whole vibe of this particular album seemed to be more upbeat and bouncy minus the title track and while the earthy atmospheric soul here is great, the singing between Sade and her accompanying vocalist are flawless.

*No Ordinary Love
(Love Deluxe, 1992)

-There was once such a thing as quiet storm styled music and this is one of those songs that fit right into that. While that style isn't necessarily as prevalent now, there were always artists who embodied that in songs. Sade is the queen of quiet storm music. I mean, in one of her biggest songs, she even mentions a quiet storm in the bridge (if you follow her music, you already know which one). This is one of her most masterful hits, perfect for the quiet storm, the bedroom (same as quite storm really), and even perfect for a long drive home after a long day. The mellow mood is executed to perfection here, as the complex sound and lyricism within Sade's music reaches a near apex here.

*Feel No Pain 
(Love Deluxe, 1992)

-Sade had a knack of relatable music, but this seems to be the one where she really brings it. The title is self explanatory, but the song itself is intricate with a very minimal production backing it and when we hear "poppa been laid off...", you know this isn't your normal Sade song and that while her quite storm love anthems are always welcomed, she can also go another route while still preserving her essence musically.

*Kiss Of Life 
(Love Deluxe, 1992)

-I have a personal attachment to this song. When my grandmother passed, I found solace in this song at a young age. When I lost another close friend and there was a miscarriage that occurred in my relationship with the eventual mother of my child, I turned to this song yet again. Perhaps that's sharing a bit much in this article, but music provides therapy for me, so I eventually sampled this song on one of my most personal tracks, "Must've Been Angels". This song is beautifully arranged and sung and even now as I listen back to it, it soothes the soul in so many ways. This is a top 5 Sade track and one of my three go to songs from her catalog. Just complete beauty in song form.

*Cherish The Day
(Love Deluxe, 1992)

-Another quiet storm anthem from the talented singer, she gives us a deep reminder to cherish the time you have. While many would say this was in reference to love or a relationship, the song has a multilayered yet simplistic meaning. Cherish the day. Cherish the moments. Don't let anything to go to waste, preferably your time and your energy. Yet another classic from the queen of soothing soulful jazz music.

*Bulletproof Soul 
(Love Deluxe, 1992)

-This embodies the jazzy vibe of her older albums mixed with the newer sensibility of this style. It is a true testament to her greatness as an artist and one has to wonder why this didn't catch on and become an official single. It's truly one of the best songs on Love Deluxe, which has it in quite esteemed company.

*By Your Side 
(Lovers Rock, 2000)

-This was different. It was very bluesy and folk like in execution, but still features the trademark Sade sound, though I admittedly was not a fan of this Lovers Rock album like that. It was an attempt at Sade bringing a more current vibe and style in her music and while it worked in some way for the masses, I wasn't into many songs. This one however, had what we wanted and then some from Sade, as her vocals soothed the soul and the reassurance within the lyrics resonates with all of us in some way.

*Lovers Rock 
(Lovers Rock, 2000)

-The title track is what I wanted to hear from her. It was folk like, somewhat jazzy and bluesy, but also feature the right boom bap styled drums to make the song extremely enjoyable. I find very little to ever dislike about Sade's music and even when she experiments a bit like she did with this album, she still keeps her element in tact and this song is the best example of that.

*The Moon And The Sky
(Soldier of Love, 2010)

-I love this song because of the arrangements within it. Sade has a tendency to utilize some of the most glorious sounding production I've ever had the pleasure of hearing and this is no different. Her voice is very smooth against this majestic production, and the song is probably my favorite off this particular album.

(Soldier of Love, 2010)

-Is it bad that I wanted to include this more for the video where Sade looks absolutely gorgeous? Well, not my problem. Aside from the video where the graceful Sade showcases a small bit of sex appeal, this song is really a nice listen and one of the best songs on her last album, likely why it was a single and video.

(Soldier of Love, 2010)

-This track sounds like some late night, smooth playlist music. The title is likely a dead giveaway, but I really enjoyed the song. I think as Sade went on in her career, her last two albums slightly drifted away from what we loved about her and tried to incorporate the sounds of today with her own styling, but it didn't work as well as what we loved about her. This is however, a perfect bridging of the gap and a great song that rounds out her most "disappointing" album, but was still a solid overall project.

While there are some solid songs left off the list, these are the best songs in her entire catalog. While more lists do a simple top 5 to narrow them down, we here at DAR prefer to fully appreciate the greatness of the artists and their catalog by looking at every album and every project and seeing which songs stand out as some of their best. Have a song missing that you'd like to include? Discuss in the comments.


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