February 1986: Sade Hits #1 in America with "Promise"

Sade performing at Wembley Arena, London 21/11/88 (Sony Music Archive via Getty Images/Terry Lott)
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(Sony Music Archive via Getty Images/Terry Lott)

UK soul act Sade had made a big impression on music lovers around the world with the release of the group's debut album, Diamond Life (1984). Packed with jazzy and urbane arrangements powered by singer Sade Adu's stunning vocals, the record would reach #5 on the US charts. Much of that momentum would come from third single "Smooth Operator,' which would also peak at #5 on the Hot 100.

Sade's upward trajectory would continue with the release of sophomore effort, Promise. Released on November 4, 1985, the album's first single, "The Sweetest Taboo," would be another entry from the group to peak at #5 on the Hot 100 on February 28, 1986.

America was feeling Sade's love, and returned it by scooping up copies of the LP in large numbers. The album's popularity would most appropriately peak on Valentine's Day 1986, when Promise hit #1 in the US. It would stand as Sade's only #1 in America until the release of Soldier of Love in the year 2000.

For the second single from Promise, Sade rolled out the dramatic and nearly six-and-a-half-minute long album opener, "Is It a Crime?" While the tune failed to impact the Hot 100, it made an impression on the Adult Contemporary (#32) and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (#55) charts.

Third single "Never as Good as the First Time" would pick up the tempo, as well as interest from US fans. It would crash the top 20, peaking at #20 on May 16, 1986.

'''Never as Good as the First Time' isn't really about love but about growing up,'' Sade Adu told the New York Times in November 1985. ''When I say that it's never as good as the first time, I'm talking about the enjoyment of anything when you first discover it. It can be as insignificant as the thrill of going to a nightclub for the first time. Those particular feelings can never be repeated."

When asked about her own favorite from the full-length, the singer singled out the closing track on Promise.

'''Maureen' is personally my favorite song on the album, because it's about a friend who died five years ago,'' Adu shared. ''I didn't want it to be sad or self-indulgent but to represent the joy and good times we had together. I think of it as a happy tribute. The song came almost like magic. It was written in two hours.''

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