A Father's Day Mix Of Songs With Mixed Feelings About Fathers

Every May, there's no shortage of mawkishly sentimental songs to play on Mother's Day, but a month later, there are comparatively few Father's Day equivalents. Sure, there are some treacly tracks like Bob Carlisle's 1997 adult-contempo hit "Butterfly Kisses," but fatherhood is more often than not invoked in pop music as a discomfiting sexual metaphor (see "Big Poppa," "Father Figure," and the countless songs that feature the phrase "who's your daddy?").

The best and most enduring songs about fatherhood tend to explore darker and more complex themes, or depict imperfect or absent dads, rather than provide sunny theme songs: "Cat's In The Cradle," "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone," even Everclear's "Father of Mine." This Sunday will be the third Father's Day I've celebrated since becoming one myself; I have a good relationship with my father and am deeply devoted to my son. But I'd rather listen to the songs on this Spotify playlist, and others that explore the complexities and unpredictable gray areas in the bond (or lack thereof) between a man and his son or daughter, than hear goddamn "Butterfly Kisses" again.

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Live: Sade Reaches Out To The People At Nassau Coliseum

Sade w/John Legend
Nassau Coliseum
Tuesday, June 21

Better than: Date night at home.

It's probably obvious to say that Sade makes "mood music." The velvety, sultry voice of Sade Adu serves as the emotional center, radiating feeling even when it's seemingly at its most reserved; her phrasing opens up certain notes into embraces that are at turns romantic and comforting. The band backing her up is finely calibrated and taut, knowing precisely when to allow a groove to simmer or to let loose a ripping sax solo.

Of course, the professionalism on display shouldn't surprise too much; the band's core members have been playing their low-heat mix of jazz and R&B for nearly 30 years, albeit with a few hiatuses here and there. Sade's current tour is its first in a decade and supporting both Soldier Of Love—the 2010 album that sold a boatload of copies when it came out—and a greatest-hits collection released earlier this year that contains assists by the likes of Jay-Z and the Neptunes.

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On Sade and the Virtues of Scarcity

Categories: Featured, Sade

Sade, hiding. Photo courtesy ThinkTank Marketing.
This week's album charts were topped by Sade's Soldier Of Love, the smoky soul singer's sixth full-length and first since 2000's Lovers Rock. Soldier accomplished the rarer-than-ever feat of going gold in its first week of release, selling 502,000 copies and toppling the snoozy twangers Lady Antebellum from the top spot.

Sade's strong first week isn't much of a surprise. The drums started beating for Soldier pretty early, and online it seemed that all quarters were anticipating the album -- it received pre-release notices from Brooklyn Vegan and SoulBounce, garnered solid reviews from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, and was advertised on TV. But it's hard not to wonder if what really helped Soldier during its debut week is one quality that's increasingly rare in these music-saturated times: Scarcity.

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Listening To Rappers Gush Over Sade Will Seriously Never Get Old

Categories: Featured, Sade

Sade media-blitz week is winding down (much to David Letterman's dismay) -- looks like her Soldier of Love, despite its rampant iciness, will top next week's Billboard chart with ease. It's nice to have something/someone we can all agree on. With that in mind. our arch-enemies over at Vulture corralled an impressive roster of hip-hop luminaries (Missy Elliott, the Clipse Boys, Rakim, Keri Hilson, etc.) to wax rhapsodic on our regal heroine, a fine idea that buzzes along cheerfully until you get to Joell Ortiz:

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Sade Does "Soldier Of Love" For David Letterman, Who Has Occasional Trouble Saying Craig Ferguson's Name

Categories: Featured, Sade

It's media-blitz week for the Ice Queen, which, if she herself is to be believed, Sade does not enjoy, at all. But she rips into "Soldier of Love" here anyway -- everyone's ultra-somber expression might amuse you at first, but eventually she tears into her new record's title track with aplomb. Dave ("I need a drink!") is quite impressed. Note though the very weird "Craig [FERGUSON!] is next" overdub (shorter version here). What last name did he say instead? Kilborn? Hodges? Finn?

Long-Dormant Pop-Soul Icon Report: The Imminent Return of Both Sade and Maxwell

Yeah, that Sade, she of "Smooth Operator" and "By Your Side," maybe the best first-dance wedding song of the past decade. The latter hails from her last record, 2000's elegant Lover's Rock; the follow-up -- which longtime fans knew better than to even bother anxiously awaiting, as Sade clearly loves her downtime -- is apparently due out this fall. True story: I saw her in concert on September 10, 2001, and have felt really weird about her ever since. Another true story: I learned about this indirectly from Touré, which I consider welcome payback for some of the other disquieting stuff I've learned from or about him on Twitter.

In a similar vein, please enjoy above "Pretty Wings," the first new video from neo-soul survivor Maxwell's long-threatened Blacksummers'night trilogy. (The apostrophe plays hell with that title.) He's still great live, and his agenda/aesthetic hasn't changed: As such, this video is basically four minutes of foxy ladies sleeping. Shit is erotic.