Smooth

Album: Supernatural (1999)
Charted: 3 1
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  • Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty wrote this with Itaal Shur, a songwriter and producer who has worked with Jewel, Robi Rosa and Maxwell (co-writing his first hit, "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)." Shur said in a Songfacts interview: "I was already active in the music business. I had some hit records with Maxwell and I was already touring the world with Groove Collective, so people knew me more in the underground scene, but I wasn't as big as Rob Thomas, of course. My manager at the time told me that Pete Ganbarg, who was working at the time at Arista, he was looking for music for the new Santana record. At the time, I had my own band and was performing a lot around the city. I jumped at it because I grew up with an older brother who hipped me up to classic rock and I always loved Santana.

    I went up to the office and I wanted to hear what they had first to see what kind of direction they were going for, and when I went up there I heard the Wyclef track, I heard the Dave Matthews track, I heard a couple of other tracks, and I realized there wasn't the kind of track that was, in my opinion, a standard Santana groove like 'Black Magic Woman,' 'Oye Como Va,' 'Evil Ways.' So I went home and wrote this track on guitar with all the arrangements called 'Room One Seven.' It was about this couple that meet after a long time and have a little tryst in the hotel room.

    I brought it to Arista and they loved the instrumental and they liked parts of the melodies, but they didn't like the lyrics - they thought it was a little too sexual for Santana - so they asked me if I wanted to work with Rob Thomas. I didn't know him; I'd heard a little bit about Matchbox Twenty. He happened to live at the time in Soho very close to me. He came over and he had already written the verses to the instrumental that Arista gave him. I had a chorus that had the same melody: 'Room One Seven on the seventeenth floor. Take the elevator and I'll meet you at the door.' He didn't have a chorus, so before he came, I changed the words around to, 'Give me the ocean, give me the moon, give me something hot to make my body move,' and this turned into the chorus that we all know."
  • Thomas sang lead on this, but that wasn't the plan. He had never written a song for someone else before, so he jumped at the chance to write a song with Shur for Santana, figuring it would boost his songwriting bona fides. When they finished the song, Thomas suggested George Michael, one of his musical heroes, as the vocalist. Arista Records ended up asking Thomas to do the vocals, and when he did, it was in Michael's style. "If you listen to the melody and the cadence, it's an attempt to emulate his style in so many ways," he told Billboard.

    When Thomas launched his solo career a few years later, he once again emulated Michael, who also made the transition from a group (Wham!) to a solo artist.
  • Many of the lyrics are Thomas' ode to his wife, the former Marisol Maldonado, who is Puerto Rican. "My Mu Equita" translates to "My Little Doll" in Spanish; Thomas also calls her his "Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa." Marisol appears in the video.
  • GQ published an "oral history" satire of this song in 2016, which is filled with confabulations like this quote from Rob Thomas: "I didn't even know who Carlos Santana was at this point. I actually thought he was the guy that who was in charge of Libya."
  • The song's co-writer Itaal Shur told us: "The guitar solo from my demo, Santana copied that solo, which was a huge compliment and all the breaks were also on my demo. It was really weird, my demo was kind of like a template for the live band to play. They sped up the song two beats: it was like at 1/13 and went to 1/15 and it went from A Flat Minor to A Minor. They played it as a band and recorded it all live, pretty much. Me and Rob, when we were writing the song, the verses were fine, but we went through about four or five changes with the record company; from like, 'Give me the ocean, give me the moon,' 'You're just like the ocean...' Pete Ganbarg, who if it wasn't for him this song wouldn't have come together because he put me and Rob together, he said some really good comments about the lyrics - he was an English major and really picky about lyrics. It was a really good collaboration."
  • This won Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year at the 2000 Grammys. Supernatural also won for Best Rock Album and Album Of The Year. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jim - Oxnard, CA
  • Clive Davis is a legendary record executive who was the mastermind behind this album. Santana had not had a hit since "Hold On" in 1982, so Davis teamed him up with contemporary musicians like Wyclef Jean, Everlast and Lauryn Hill to make sure the younger generation took notice. The result was a wildly successful album that went over well with Santana's old fans and created a legion of new ones. This was the first single, and it spent 12 weeks at #1 in the US.
  • Santana has the distinction of waiting the longest between his first charting single and first #1 hit. In 1969, "Tango" hit #56 in the US, and 30 years later this was #1.
  • The trend of aging rockers calling in hot young artists to give them contemporary appeal became known in the music press as "The Carlos Santana Effect," thanks to his Supernatural success.
  • Marcus Raboy directed the music video. He also did the video for the Supernatural track "Maria Maria."
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Comments: 11

  • Donna from Ft. Lauderdale, FlAll hail Carlos Santana! There is no equal.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhMike...yes...his guitar sings...so right. This song blends the lyrics, vocals and instrumentation into one magical musical masterpiece.
  • Dave from Fernandina Beach, FlOtto's right, it's muñequita, not mu equita.
  • Estel from 303, CoEscape the Fate did an official cover of this song, but nothing is like the original brilliance.
  • Mike from Hastings, NeAm I the only person that feels Santana doesn't "play" his guitars, as much as lets them "sing"? This song is people's exhibit 1.
  • Bertrand from Paris, France"Smooth" genuinely appeared out of left field. Who would have thought legendary Latin guitarist Carlos Santana would record one of the biggest pop hit singles of all time? Add to that - who would have thought the vocalist would be the lead singer for post-grunge band Matchbox 20? It did happen and "Smooth" deserved the sales and acclaim. In 2005 Rob Thomas, the lead vocalist with Matchbox 20, proved his performance on "Smooth" was no fluke with a stellar solo album [b]...Something To Be[b].
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandRay, you're legend... Hip hop and rap were good in the 80s and early 90s but hell, you can't beat real beats and lyrics
  • Ray from Stockton, NjThis song is unbelievable. Santana is unbelievable. Boy bands have no talent other than that have choreography. I'm only 14 but i wish the 60s and 70s were around because hip-hop and rap are ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE and that boy bands have NO TALENT whatsoever. hip-hop and rap is just screaming fast rhyming poems. Boy bands dress in sequin and dance around with choreography and they can't write music or lyrics for their life. This song showed that boy bands and hiphop rap aren't good. In the 60s, and 70s bands and artists did drugs for the lyric process. Now rappers do drugs because their amped up crack addicts who do it to be cool. It's terrible. This song symbolizes that rap and boy bands are boring and that the 70s still rule.
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iathis song had to be on the vh1 countdown for at least 3 years and who knows, it's probably still on.
  • Otto from Miami, FlQuick correction: "My Muñequita" not "My Mu Equita"
  • Mason from Prior Lake, MnIn the 30's Big Band was popular.
    In the 50's Doo Wop was popular.
    In the 60's Protest Songs were popular.
    In the late 70's Disco was popular.
    In the 80's Synth was popular.
    In the late 90's Boy Bands were popular.
    Now Rap and Hip Hop is popular.

    What will come next? This song gives me a pretty good idea that it will be Latin music of some kind.
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