When Sade sashayed onto the scene in 1984 with her sultry blend of pop, jazz and soul, it was a far cry from the techno-pop and hair-metal dominating the charts.
Sade's smoky alto mixed with laid-back grooves attracted a devoted following and led to 23.5 million in U.S. album sales, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. And even as a new generation goes gaga over the latest pop divas, Sade, 52, keeps doing her own thing, scoring a No. 1 album with last year's "Soldier of Love."
Sade, born in Nigeria and raised in England, has made a career singing about love. There are timeless lessons in her hits, many of which are featured on the "Ultimate Collection," a best-of album released last month. As her first U.S. tour in 10 years arrives tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum, here are a few chapters from Sade's book of love.
1. 'Love Hurts'
KEY TRACK "Is It a Crime" ("Promise," 1985): Infidelity is the worst kind of betrayal, but as Sade croons, "I can see through / All of your lies / And still I miss you," you know the real pain comes from not being able to let go.
ADD TO THE PLAYLIST "Somebody's Already Broke My Heart" ("Lovers Rock," 2000); "Skin" ("Soldier of Love," 2010)
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2. 'Love Is a Battlefield'
KEY TRACK "Soldier of Love" ("Soldier of Love"): Despite the pain, ultimately true love is worth fighting for.
ADD TO THE PLAYLIST "Hang on to Your Love" ("Diamond Life," 1984); "War of the Heart" ("Promise")
3. 'Where Is the Love?'
KEY TRACKS "Smooth Operator" ("Diamond Life"): The breezy tempo may make you forget this is a cautionary tale of an elusive playboy "with eyes like an angel," but whose "heart is cold."
ADD TO THE PLAYLIST "Mr. Wrong" ("Promise"); No Ordinary Love" ("Love Deluxe")
4. 'Love Is the Drug'
KEY TRACKS "The Sweetest Taboo" ("Promise"): You'll do anything for that high -- even stand out in the rain.
ADD TO THE PLAYLIST "Kiss of Life" and "Cherish the Day" ("Love Deluxe," 1992)
5. 'All You Need Is Love'
KEY TRACKS "Your Love Is King" ("Diamond Life"): In the end, love rules.
ADD TO THE PLAYLIST "Paradise" and "Love Is Stronger Than Pride" ("Stronger Than Pride," 1988); "By Your Side" ("Lovers Rock")
WHO Sade, with John Legend
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum
INFO $49.50-$179.50; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
WHAT CRITICS SAY
Her gauzy voice has acquired greater range, to the point that she receives a standing ovation for the sustained note that closes 'Is It a Crime?' but her stock-in-trade remains the dreamy delivery of pop-jazz songs about love and relationships, many of which reveal greater emotional depth than they were initially credited with."
-- Caroline Sullivan, The Guardian
[Sade] used to stand still at the microphone for fear of looking silly, but now sways and dips gracefully -- even playfully -- to the music. Forget fellow 50-something Madonna, desperately disco dancing in her tacky teenage getups: this is how older women would really like to look."
-- Helen Brown, The Telegraph
The key was that voice. Its range is limited, but nobody expresses adult sorrow and melancholy with such graceful pain, whether on 'King of Sorrow,' Phil Lynott's 'Still in Love With You' or 'Jezebel,' where she sang her heart out."
Here's her set list from a recent show in Hamburg, Germany:
"Soldier of Love"
"Your Love Is King"
"Kiss of Life"
"Love Is Found"
"In Another Time"
"Bring Me Home"
"Is It a Crime"
"Still in Love"
"All About Our Love"
"Paradise"/"Nothing Can Come Between Us"
"King of Sorrow"
"The Sweetest Taboo"
"Moon and Sky"
"No Ordinary Love"
"By Your Side"
"Cherish the Day"