Sade’s “Smooth Operator” Lyrics Meaning

In “Smooth Operator”, Sade talks about a male who is good at playing women, yet is irresistibly attractive. She describes him as smooth because he can easily entice another girl while toying with the heart of another.

Loved in seven languages

He’s loved in seven different languages means that he is attracted by women across different parts of the world, because of his elegance and the luxurious lifestyle he lives. 

Sade presents the antagonist as someone who always lives life on the high and only wants to enjoy pleasure. He doesn’t really have time for a real connection, as such any lady who is sensitive enough to want a deep relationship with him gets dumped along the way. He’s always on the move, visiting exotic places while he rolls with several women wherever he finds himself. 

In all, the singer portrays him as someone who can melt a woman’s heart with his angelic eyes, but has a cold wicked heart inside of him and is no good for her.

Lyrics of "Smooth Operator"

Writer(s) and Producer(s) of “Smooth Operator”

Sade Adu and Raymond St. John collaborated in writing this track. British producer, Robin Millar is credited for producing “Smooth Operator”.

Release Date and Album

Sade released this smooth jazz tune in September 1984. The band chose this track as the 3rd single from their Diamond Life album. The song “Your Love is King” was also released as a single from Diamond Life.  

Music Video

A video to this track was released in 1984. It was directed by noted English film director, Julien Temple.

This video received double award nominations at the 1985 edition of the MTV Video Music Awards. However, it missed out on both awards. The first loss was to Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It” for Best Female Video. The other was to “Voices Carries” by ‘Til Tuesday for Best New Artist in a Video category.

Notable Media Usage, Samples and Covers

  • “Smooth Operator” was used in a 2003 documentary about the life and death of American rap icon, Tupac Shakur. This documentary is titled Tupac: Resurrection. It also appeared on the comic movies, Fun with Dick and Jane (of 2005) and This Means War (of 2012).
  • American rap artist, Rich Homie Quan made references to this single in his song titled, “Type of Way”.
  • “Smooth Operator” has been sampled in over ten different songs, which includes “Western Ways” by Delinquent Habits, “Perfect” by Snoop Dogg (feat. Charlie Wilson), and “selfish” by Ant Beale.
  • At least 20 different musical artists have released a cover version of this jazz tune. Some of these artists are Cuban percussionist, Mongo Santamaria (in 1987) and Canadian musician, Greg Adams (in 1995).
  • Other singers like Karen Aoki (in 2007) and Meshell Ndegeocello (in 2018) also released their versions of the tune.

Chart Success

This track is considered as one of the band’s most successful songs. In 1985, it was a big hit in Canada and in the United States, making it to No.5 on both nations’ charts. It also got to No.19 on the UK Singles chart and peaked at No.20 in Australia.

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