When Smokey Sings

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"When Smokey Sings"
When Smokey Sings.jpg
Single by ABC
from the album Alphabet City
Released22 May 1987
GenreBlue-eyed soul[1]
ABC singles chronology
"Ocean Blue"
"When Smokey Sings"
"The Night You Murdered Love"
Music video
"When Smokey Sings" on YouTube

"When Smokey Sings" is a song by English band ABC, released as the first single from their fourth studio album, Alphabet City (1987). The lyrics and title of the song are a tribute to R&B and soul singer Smokey Robinson. In the United States, Robinson himself was on the Billboard 100 pop chart with his single "One Heartbeat" at the same time as this tribute song; for the week ending 3 October 1987, both songs were in the Billboard Top 10 simultaneously.[2]


"When Smokey Sings" and its B-side, "Chicago" also topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart. The song reached No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart and proved to be their second American Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. There is a slight difference in the lyrics between the album and single version in the bridge of the song.

In the album version, references are made to "Luther", "Sly", "James", and "Marvin" (most likely referring to Luther Vandross, Sly Stone, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye, respectively). In the single version, this is replaced by alternate lyrics, followed by a short saxophone solo.

Pitchfork Media were favourable for the Miami Mix, saying "can you fuck with...the proto–freestyle of the "Miami mix" of ABC's "When Smokey Sings"?...No, of course you cannot."[3]

The bass line of the song is a homage to Robinson's composition, "The Tears of a Clown."[4]

Versions released[edit]

  1. Album version – 4:19
  2. Single version – 4:21
  3. Miami Mix – 7:05
  4. Miami Mix (European single edit) – 5:08
  5. Bonus Beats – 4:43
  6. Detroit mix – 6:56

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 25
Belgian Singles Chart[citation needed] 12
Canadian Singles Chart (The Record)[6] 2
Canadian Singles Chart (RPM)[7][8] 5
Dutch Singles Chart[9] 13
French Singles Chart[10] 86
German Singles Chart[11] 52
Irish Singles Chart[12] 11
New Zealand Singles Chart[13] 9
South African Singles Chart[14] 20
UK Singles Chart[15] 11
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[16] 5
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart[16] 2
U.S. Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart[16] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart[16] 8


  1. ^ "Alphabet City - ABC - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  2. ^ http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100/1987-10-03 The Hot 100, w/ending October 3, 1987
  3. ^ "Various Artists: 12"/80s/2 Album Review | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  4. ^ Porter, Christopher (25 August 2008). "ABC, 'When Smokey Sings". Express. The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-646-11917-5.
  6. ^ Lwin, Nanda (2000). Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide. ISBN 978-1-896594-13-2.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  9. ^ Steffen Hung. "ABC - When Smokey Sings". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  10. ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres par Artiste". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  11. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  12. ^ Jaclyn Ward. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "ABC - When Smokey Sings". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  14. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (A)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  15. ^ "The Official Charts Company - When Smokey Sings by ABC Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d ABC. "ABC - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012.

External links[edit]