Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Sade, "The Sweetest Taboo"


The Singer: Born Helen Folasade Adu in Nigeria, the singer known as Sade found her way to music a few years after arriving in London to pursue a career in fashion. In 1982 Sade formed the band that shared her name (a trait that makes her something of a precursor to PJ Harvey). Her debut, 1984's Diamond Life, contained "Smooth Operator" (her best-known song), but this week's slow jam comes from her sophomore effort, Promise.

The Song: Based on a unrelenting, rimshot-driven drumbeat and bolstered by tasteful jazz guitar and cocktail piano, "The Sweetest Taboo" sets a solid groove for Sade's always-seductive, always-controlled voice. Maybe it's her tough-to-place ethnicity and near-stunning beauty that gives her songs an otherworldly quality; whatever it is, her songs are immediately recognizable and gave the slow jam/quiet storm sound a mid-'80s update.

The Video: There's no high concept to this video -- clad in a bolero jacket, Sade and her band rehearse in a spacious loft with scenes of her love affair interspersed. There's horseback riding, a motorcycle, and something furtively tucked in a glove box. Was it something, shall we say, taboo

Hipster Cachet: In 1985, Sade appeared in the film Absolute Beginners alongside David Bowie and Ray Davies. It appears to be an early version of Strictly Ballroom, and Sade contributed to the movie's soundtrack.