Top 5 Sting Tracks !
In 1983, The Police released what would be their most successful album and, quite surprisingly, their last. Synchronicity, which contained their signature No. 1 Hit Every Breath You Take among other classics, would go on to sell 8 million copies in the U.S. alone. The following world tour would be equally successful and many considered The Police the biggest band in the world. However, despite the group's success, Sting wanted to explore different musical avenues and follow his own star. His solo adventure began with the release of 1985's The Dream Of The Blue Turtles. However, The Police did get back together in the studio in 1986, but the sessions failed to deliver anything album-worthy and the group permanently disbanded (until their reunion tour in 2007). Sting went on his own for good and created an amazing catalog of music, exploring various genres with great success. Here are my 5 personal favorites !
Honorable mentions (would have been incuded in my Top 10) : If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, Fragile, All This Time, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot
5. Send Your Love (from Sacred Love, 2003)
2003's Sacred Love is Sting last true pop rock mainstream album and saw him experiment with different musical styles. The album is overall very satisfying and contains a few gems that will likely be considered as classics in a few years, notably Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing). Send Your Love, the first single and my favorite off that album, was produced by Sting with Kipper and famous DJ Victor Calderone. The result is an extremely uplifting track and probably the closest thing to dance music he ever created. Dave Audé remixed the track to great effect and made it a club smash which was used in the accompanying music video instead of the album version (watch below). I would have loved to see Sting further explore dance music and maybe create a whole album with tracks like this one... I think his voice fits the genre very well, as evidenced by remixes of If You Love Somebody Set Them Free and Stolen Car, among others.
4. Desert Rose (from Brand New Day, 1999)
Sting always displayed an interest in world music in his records and here he created one of the best tracks of the genre, successfully mixing rock with Arabic traditional music. Sensual and groundbreaking, Desert Rose is already a classic and Sting performs it in most of his concerts to this day. A worldwide smash, the track became his last Top 40 Hit in the U.S. so far. It features Algerian singer Cheb Mami, whose gorgeous voice blends perfectly with Sting's own. Whenever I listen to this track, I feel like I want to go explore the world and broaden my horizons... The chorus never fails to send shivers down my spine. Sadly, the 9/11 attacks incidentally meant that interest in Arabic music in the mainstream market declined drastically, and Sting never really went back to the genre. DJ Victor Calderone created a club mix for the single release that transforms Desert Rose in a thrilling dance track, which is also worth seeking out. The music video was also used as a Jaguar promotional ad and is among Sting's very best. If you've never listened to it, make yourself a gift ; grab a good pair of earphones, crank up the volume and close your eyes. You won't regret the trip !
3. Shape Of My Heart (from Ten Summoner's Tales, 1993)
I consider this to be the best track from Sting's 1993 Grammy winning album Ten Summoner's Tales, which is quite something, as the album itself is often considered one of his very best. One of Sting's most touching songs, the track echoes 1987's Fragile in its sound but I think it's even better. Written by Sting with Dominic Miller, Shape Of My Heart is about someone who can't deal with his emotions and that is displayed quite wisely through the metaphor of a gambler. It hits the spot for me everytime and was used in Luc Besson's equally excellent thriller Léon : The Professionnal. The song was also often sampled, most notably by Craig David for Rise & Fall, a great R&B track that also features Sting on back vocals. The accompanying music video sees Sting playing the song live in an intimate environment, a wise choice for such a beautiful track.
2. Fortress Around Your Heart (from The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, 1985)
Somehow, break-ups always seem to help artists create amazing songs. This is clearly the case here, as Sting wrote this along with The Police's Every Breath You Take and King Of Pain following the failure of his first marriage. Incidentally, Fortress Around Your Heart wouldn't have sounded out off place on a Police album and is as good as anything the group ever recorded. It was instead released as the third single from Sting's first solo album, the impressive The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, and it reached the U.S. Top 10. The track was a highlight off that album and it's accompanying tour, as evidenced in the 1985 documentary Bring On the Night, which chronicles the beginning of Sting's solo career and is a must-watch for any fan. The track features a sax solo by the then relatively unknown Branford Marsalis and he kicks it out of the park. The music video got heavy rotation on MTV at the time and helped cement Sting's reputation as a solo artist. With or without The Police, the man could rock hard !
1. Englishman In New York (from Nothing Like the Sun, 1987)
I consider this to be Sting's signature song as a solo artist. I can't help but sing along to it every time I listen to it (which happens very often). An impressive blend of pop and jazz, the song is about being yourself and not caring about what others think. Sting was inspired by the eccentric gay icon Quentin Crisp and wrote the song more or less about him. Branford Marsalis is once again playing soprano saxophone and helps make the track the classic it is. There is an unexpected drum break in the middle of the song that surprisingly fits the song extremely well ; you can't help but be impressed by Sting's musical genius. The song was remixed in 1990 by DJ Ben Liebrand in an attempt to make it a dance hit. While his remixes are good, nothing can beat the original arrangement. Surprisingly, the song only reached No. 51 in the U.K. Charts and No. 84 in the U.S., making it a minor hit at the time. Luckily, it's status grew with time and the track is one of Sting's finest. The elegant music video was shot in black and white and displays Sting portraying a Quentin Crisp-like character. You can watch it below:
Thank you for reading ! And Sting, thank you for the music !