The Sweetest Taboo
by Sade

Album: Promise (1985)
Charted: 31 5

Songfacts®:

  • The "Sweetest Taboo" is the height of sexual pleasure. In this song, Sade sings lovingly about a man who gets her there. With him, every day is Christmas, every night is New Year's Eve.
  • The line, "There's a quiet storm," is a reference to the Quiet Storm radio format, which is filled with baby-making music like this song. The Quiet Storm indicates a sensual sexual experience.
  • Sade is the name of the band and also the first name of the lead singer, Sade Adu. Formed in London, their first album, Diamond Life, with the hit "Smooth Operator," was released in the UK in 1984 almost a year before it appeared in America in 1985. They earned the BRIT Award for Album Of The Year and the Grammy for Best New Artist. Promise, their second album, was released in both territories later in 1985 with "The Sweetest Taboo" the first single. The cantankerous British press made life difficult for Sade Adu, accusing her of giving lackluster performances and cultivating a homogenized lounge-act sound. In America, where she wasn't a tabloid story, the music did the talking, and "The Sweetest Taboo" spoke volumes, getting lots of airplay on a variety of formats. It was most successful on the Adult Contemporary chart, where like "Smooth Operator," it went to #1.
  • Directed by Brian Ward, the video finds Sade looking out a window at a desert landscape, thinking about a man. In other scenes, she's riding a horse, interacting with the guy who is her sweet taboo. The video was manna for VH1, which had recently launched as an adult alternative to MTV.
  • Sade Adu wrote this song with Martin Ditcham, who was a touring drummer for the band. He and the band's official drummer, Dave Early, came up with the distinctive pre-chorus percussion in the studio by setting up glasses and bottles, then tapping them with various implements and blowing over the bottles. The sound of rain was added at the beginning and end of the song from a sound effects disc.

Comments: 14

  • Keith Sadefan Bell from UsaYou guys are wrong about what the sweetest taboo means. It is clear in the video. It’s not the height of sexual pleasure, though that could be part of a double entendres.

    She is in a relationship with a man who everything in her warns her is dangerous and who could also break her heart at anytime, but because she’s so in love with him, though her heart warns her of the danger, she can’t resist. This is why they show her finding a gun in his glove box, and putting it away before he gets back in the car.

    At the video’s end, she writes “Temor” on the window, which means “fear” in Spanish, to describe the apprehensions she has about giving her total heart to her Latin lover though she feels he could hurt her or break her heart at anytime.

    She reveres and fears him, but she loves him so much that though her heart tells her he should be taboo, the taboo is bittersweet. It’s like the good girl who wants the dangerous rough neck to be her man.
  • Frank from Chicago The taboo is that she is the dom.
  • Jj from SeattleThis song is about a man who has dangerous dealings with the mob or the like.... ( Gun In The Glove-box )
    She is afraid to tell him that she knows...... (Quiet Storm)
    Although she's presuming herself to be falling in love with him, she is caught between the man she see's (sometimes I think You're just to good for me) and the man he truly is (Taboo).
    Temor written in the window....... Fear.......

    For the the rap-up watch "Is It A Crime"
  • Cinco Barba from California I was always embarrassed behind the Fact that she felt so strongly about Us that she composed a song about our time together she's a Beautiful woman with a soulful voice I should of never let her Get away.
  • Renee from New York, NyMy interpretation of this song: The "Quiet Storm" is those first true feelings of love for that special person in your life.
    "Will you keep on loving me?"---if I let you kow about these feelings, will you run--do you feel the same way? You make me happy--dare I love again? Continuing to believe in love is the sweetest taboo.
  • Dane from Lima,ohio, Fl"If I tell you how I feel,will you keep on lovin' me?"What a great start to a great song.It's very positive.I love the tropical feel of this song.This one & "Smooth Operator" are her best.
  • Yoan from Paris, FranceIt could be also about anal sex. That's one of the biggest taboo, even today.
  • Mick from Aberdeen, United KingdomI think I read an interview about it and Jade is right about the heroin addiction,and this is what the song is about.
  • Mike from Sacramento, CaThis song seems to be about falling in love with a man who gets her off sexually. It's called "the sweetest taboo" because female pleasure/orgasm was (and in a way still is) a taboo subject.

    "you've got the biggest heart" could be a reference to the size of the man's penis because throughout the song she's implying she only loves him because of what he does for her sexually. "Every day is christmas, every night is new year's eve" could be a reference to the fact that good sex is said to make a woman feel good all day and night.

    However, the video implies a very different meaning of the song. In the beginning of the video she seemed to be lusting for a married man or a man with a girlfriend, which might imply the taboo of the song is about having an affair with someone who's married or in a relationship. She doesn't hook up with the guy in the video, but you have to consider the time video came out (the early 80's) something like that could ruin her image and the fact that the record company for the most part had creative control over the video and had limits to what taboo should be portrayed. At the end of the video she writes "Temor" on the window which is spanish for "fear" which could be a message for record company or an explanation to her fans.
  • Alexakarosco from Moscow, Russia Federation2 Joel, Austin, TX:

    This is aboslutely untrue!

    Sade is heterosexual. She won't sing song about lesbian love, 'cos she wrote the lyrics and melody of this song.

    2 Jade, East Orange, NJ

    It's a false statement. She never used heavy drugs.
  • Jade from East Orange, NjI thought it was about Sade's love of heroin (she was an addict for several years).
  • Kevin from Memphis , Tnfavorite lines:
    every day is Christmas/
    every night is New Year's Eve

    don't we wish.
  • Joel from Austin, TxSong about bieng a lesbian. Hence the taboo.
  • Clubber Lange from Ocean Gate, Nj"Your Love Is King" is her best song in my opinion, but this seems to be one her most famous...
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