When Smokey Sings

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"When Smokey Sings"
Single by ABC
from the album Alphabet City
B-side "Chicago"
Released 22 May 1987
Format CD single, 7" 12"
Genre New wave, sophisti-pop
Length 4:22
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Martin Fry, Mark White
Producer(s) Martin Fry, Mark White
ABC singles chronology
"Ocean Blue"
"When Smokey Sings"
"The Night You Murdered Love"

"When Smokey Sings" is a song by the new wave duo ABC. The lyrics and name of the song are a tribute to R&B and Soul singer Smokey Robinson. It was released in mid-1987, on ABC's album Alphabet City. Robinson himself was on the pop charts with his single "One Heartbeat" at the same time as this tribute song, marking one of the only times to date that a singer simultaneously was the performing artist of one Top 40 hit, while the subject of another chart hit. For the week ending 3 October 1987, both songs were in the Top 10 simultaneously. In 1964, The Carefrees hit #39 with "We Love You Beatles" during a time when The Beatles had several hits simultaneously in the Top 40.

"When Smokey Sings" and its B-side, "Chicago" also topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart. The song reached number 11 on the UK chart and proved to be their second American Top 10 hit, peaking at number 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 & the Family 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."[1]

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)[2] 25
Belgian Singles Chart[citation needed] 12
Canadian Singles Chart[3][4] 5
Dutch Singles Chart[5] 13
French Singles Chart[6] 86
German Singles Chart[7] 52
Irish Singles Chart[8] 11
New Zealand Singles Chart[9] 9
South African Singles Chart[10] 20
UK Singles Chart[11] 11
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[12] 5
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart[12] 2
U.S. Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart[12] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart[12] 8


  1. ^ http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/11712-1280s2/
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 10. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  4. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  5. ^ Steffen Hung. "ABC - When Smokey Sings". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  6. ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres par Artiste". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  7. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  8. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group - http://www.fireballmedia.ie. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  9. ^ Steffen Hung. "ABC - When Smokey Sings". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  10. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (A)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  11. ^ "The Official Charts Company - When Smokey Sings by ABC Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d ABC. "ABC - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
Preceded by
"Tina Cherry" by Georgio
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
(with "Chicago")

29 August 1987 - 5 September 1987 two weeks
Succeeded by
"How Soon We Forget" by Colonel Abrams

External links[edit]