By Mark Nobes

80s music was certainly not short of stunning basslines, and you have to admire the one on Sade's "Paradise", as it's such a quality track. In fact, I bought her Stronger than Pride album purely because I fell in love with single, and, thankfully, the album did not disappoint.

Released in 1988, "Paradise" was the band's ninth single release, and was lifted from the their third aforementioned studio album, which achieved platinum status in the UK and 3x platinum in the U.S. The single reached #29 in the UK, #16 on the U.S. Hot 100 and #1 on the U.S. R&B chart, and was the follow-up to "Love is Stronger than Pride", which peaked at #44 in the UK.

The percussion heavy song is actually pretty minimalist and repetitive, but definitely in a good way. The bassline simply repeats throughout, and, personally, I wouldn't mind listening to it for a whole day, it's that good! There's not a great deal of lyrical content either, with many lines repeated. But, somehow, it just works, with Sade managing to make it sound laid back and sophisticated, with her effortless, smooth but vibrant vocal.
Something else that may have escaped your attention, but is very essential to the overall sound, is a deep male backing vocal (provided by Leroy Osbourne), which which adds extra warmth. The whole track just oozes pure class, with the funk guitar sounding in all the right places. There are not many artists who can make minimalism sound so damn cool, and it's smoother than an eel covered in baby oil!
Sade's biggest and most well-known 80's hit was Smooth Operator (1984). In the UK, Your Love is King was the biggest-seller, peaking at #6. 


The 7 inch vinyl release (Sade 2) included a remixed version of "Paradise" on the A-side and an instrumental version of the B-side. 
The 12 inch vinyl single featured three versions of "Paradise", and these were an extended remix (5:33) on side A, and an extended instrumental (4:01) and extra beats version (2:11) on the B-side.

The British and European CD single included four tracks; "Paradise" (Extended Version), "Hang On To Your Love" (US Remix), "Keep Hangin' On" (Live) and "Paradise" (Instrumental).

Sade wearing a sombrero on the front vinyl single sleeve for


In the video we see a dog and several people walking down stone steps towards a mini mexican street fair in a backstreet with children's rides and swings, alongside sports events such as boxing and basketball. Sade is wearing a Sombrero and picks up a young girl and dances around with her, and both of them appear to be really enjoying themselves.
Given the lyrical content, you can be forgiven for expecting the video to be more romantic, but it's very uplifting, nonetheless, and Sade appears to be having a nice old time with the young girl.

Critical Response

In Music & Media Magazine (Volume 5 Issue 24) published on June 11th 1988, "Paradise" was described as a "brooding, percussion-orientated, summery track. Highly swinging, through its persistent, up-tempo groove, although at the same time somehow restrained".
In their article "Sade's 20 best songs - ranked", The Guardian's Alexis Petridis ranked "Paradise" at No.11, stating "As carefree as Sade ever got. The breathily elated vocal perfectly captures the first ecstatic flush romance: Ooh, what a life!"


The video would suggest that the lyrics are about Sade feeling like she's in paradise when she's with her daughter (possibly an adopted daughter, given the line "Feels like you're mine"). However, it's more likely that they have a more romantic vibe, and are about a partner, who she is deeply in love with and feeling like they are in paradise together. "I'm yours, your mine, like paradise". The lyric "Wanna share my life with you" could apply to both a partner or her child, of course.
Sade 1986 concert poster