Sade – The Sweetest Taboo
There's a quiet storm and it never felt like this before
There's a quiet storm that is you
There's a quiet storm and it never felt this hot before
Giving me something that's taboo
Everyone has their own taboos, and some can be very sweet. Sade knew it well and with this very fine song in October 1985 she launched her second album, Promise. The album was named after a rather delicate situation, the illness of Sade’s father, for which treatment was a promise of life. The previous year had been really fundamental for Sade and his eponymous group: their album Diamond Life had skyrocketed them to the top of the charts, but above all it had made the voice, the grace and the talent of this princess of the 80s famous in the whole world. The group that accompanied her truly seemed one thing with her voice and her music.
Sade is the short of her middle name: born in Nigeria, Helen Folasade Adu had moved as a child to England, her mother’s country, with her family. She had carried on her passions for music and fashion at the same time: she was also a model and designer of clothes, when in 1984 the success of songs like Your Love is King and Smooth Operator had definitely made Sade’s life turn towards the world of music rather than fashion.
Now Sade had to confirm her success, and she chose this beautiful song to drive the sales of the new album, which would be released, as always, about three weeks after the first single, in early November.
The Sweetest Taboo is an absolutely non-trivial song, and after all an artist like Sade can never be trivial. The song has a very strong sensual power, in music, in lyrics and in the video. The sweetest taboo mentioned in the song is the highest moment of sensual pleasure, the emotion that the man Sade is in love with is able to give her. As we read in the text, with him every day is Christmas, and every night is New Year’s Eve: Sade would do anything for him, even stand out in the rain, not to let these emotions slip away.
There is a sentence in the lyrics that has a hidden meaning: it speaks of a quiet storm. The term Quiet Storm indicated a radio format (which took its name from a 1975 Smokey Robinson album) in which romantic music was broadcast, let’s say rhythm and blues for an adult audience, mainly African American. It was the music of romantic moments with the girlfriend, perhaps with the wife, maybe with a desire to expand the family. To be clear, let’s think of songs like Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly whith His Song, or in the 80s Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, Diana Ross’s Endless Love, Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing. And of course all of Sade’s previous songs.
So when she talks about a quiet storm like never before, Sade is on a very intimate journey, the one that leads to the sweetest of taboos.
The video is very evocative, and was directed by Brian Ward. Sade looks wistfully out of the window towards the desert thinking of him. During the song, images of her riding with him alternate with images of the band playing. This video was very important to the second video music channel, VH1: since MTV in 1985 was focusing on a teen audience, a video and a song like this found breat space on a channel that set out to reach a more adult audience.
The Sweetest Taboo was a huge success, which topped the charts in England, the United States, and many other countries, and stayed at the top for months. The album Promise was also a huge success and this definitively launched the career of this great artist, still very famous and beloved today.
Sade on Wikipedia