Sade’s Smooth Operator

I’m not a fan of easy listening radio but whenever Sade’s Smooth Operator came on I always got into it. However, it wasn’t until later when I was playing guitar for a female vocalist who was a fan that I really got into Sade, and I now have three of her (their) albums… So, I thought I’d focus on this hit song.

I love the smoothness of the rhythm section, the bass line and the sax in this song -really nice tone-colours. I like the jazzy bass progression in the intro, which descends in semi tones. Then there’s the sense of space with the vocals, and the classy use of sax with the counter melody -almost like it’s agreeing with the vocals.

I also like the construction of the song, the build up, from the intro to the sustained notes in the verse, then theĀ chorus and climax when she sings “Coast to coast”, and a great funky interlude when the guitars come in over a smooth bass solo, and then kicking in with the sax solo, which is a real high in the song. You can hear the reaction from the crowd in this live version.

So, there’s no one songwriting technique in the song, it’s all the elements so well put together. There’s build up and climax, there’s space, there’s contrast, there’s rhythm, fine tonecolors (not to mention sade’s amazing voice) and arrangement, and even a great bass riff in the chorus which also kicks in the rhythm.

In the live version they add a fantastic tag-on jam, so enjoy.



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