The 6 Most Underrated Songs by Sade

As Sade unveils the ‘This Far’ vinyl collection, the editors of ZORA give their take on the band’s songs that don’t get talked about enough

Christina M. Tapper
ZORA
Published in
4 min readOct 8, 2020

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Sade performing onstage in Nice, France in 2011.
Sade performing in Nice, France. Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been 36 years since Sade and her eponymous band emerged with a debut album that set the stage for an unparalleled sound and body of work. In the process, Helen Folasade Adu, the über-private Nigerian-born British singer with a voice of husk and honey, became a global mononymous icon. Now, fans can revel in Sade’s soft soul-and-jazz-soaked oeuvre with remastered versions of the band’s studio albums. Available tomorrow, This Far is a six-album vinyl collection boasting a title that may allude to new music in the future. (We’re hopeful.)

In the meantime, the editors of ZORA decided to revisit each album to share the Sade songs that don’t get talked about enough. Here’s our list of the most underrated Sade songs — one for every album.

Diamond Life, 1984

‘When Am I Going to Make a Living

Four decades later, “Smooth Operator,” Diamond Life’s most successful single, still gets the people going (even in the NBA bubble — just ask LeBron James). But the timeless reality and optimism found in “When Am I Going to Make a Living” calls for our attention. Sade is resonant as she sings about “people fussing and thieving” and “sharks are wheeling and dealing” (which reminds me of the U.S. government). It’s a pop song with a title that begs for an answer to a specific question but also suggests a broader inquiry: When will change come? Sade doesn’t leave us in despair. She ends with a confident final lyric: “Hungry but we’re gonna win.” — Christina M. Tapper, deputy editor

Promise, 1985

‘Punch Drunk

The band really gets a chance to shine with this song. No sultry vocals, just smooth sax and complex keys alongside a steady beat that both relaxes and excites. “Punch Drunk” leaves you feeling a little mesmerized and tranquil, just like the song title says. This often-overlooked track allows the listener’s mind to wonder, to fill in the gaps left by the absence of lyrics and create their own meaning. It evokes something…

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Christina M. Tapper
ZORA
Writer for

Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.