Man It's A Hot One: The Fiery Story Behind Santana's Enduring Hit, "Smooth" (2023)

'Smooth' has become truly timeless. It was written on the wind, frozen in amber, burned forever in the midday sun.

Here's a hot fact for you about Santana's 'Smooth'.

Now, when I say hot, I'm not even talking seven-inches-from-noon-sun level heat. This fact isthethe sun, it's the sun that warms the sun, it's the entire energy source for the planet you're currently spinning on. As a matter of fact, this is a glowing orb.


Why 1999 is one of the most important (and underrated) years in dance music

Okay, let's go. 'Smooth' by Santana (with Rob Thomas) isthe second most popular song of all time.

(Video) Santana - Smooth (Stereo) ft. Rob Thomas

All time.

This is according toHere, which tracks such things, and is based on total radio plays, sales and chart positions. 'Smooth' was number one for twelve consecutive weeks in America, and was in pole position when the nineties ended. It was still number one as we entered the new millennium.

As far as we knowY2K may have happened, but the sheer power of Santana's smooth riff keeps all the computer systems on and steers the plummeting plane safely to safety. That is possible. Listen again. It probably is.

And it's just like the ocean

What made the song so popular was its continuous airplay on the radio. Given the breezy charm of 'Smooth', the ubiquity of Rob Thomas over the past two decades and the Latin influence that was inevitable on late '90s pop radio, it was initially playlisted across all radio formats: pop, rock, alternative, adult contemporary and even golden oldies, due to Santana's grizzled fan base. (Heliterally played at Woodstock, not the '99 version with Korn and Limp Bizkit.)

It's still in high rotation on many radio stations - in fact, someone is probably playing it right now, and probably won't even admit it to Rob Thomas when he re-releases it.

The only song considered more popular is 'The Twist' by Chubby Checker, which came out in 1960 (that's six decades of radio play), invented a major dance craze and was instrumental in popularizing the entire genre of rock and roll. However, it does not feature Rob Thomas.

Santana loved the vocals, the song, the passion, the implied señoritas, so he played that same guitar riff that he uses in about 100 percent of his songs, and history was made (with Rob Thomas)

Like many things, 'Smooth' started out unimpressive. It started as a demo written by songwriter Itaal Shur, who heard that Santana was looking for songs for a new album, and made a song called 'Room 17' over the weekend.

(Video) Santana - Put Your Lights On (Video Version) ft. Everlast

Shur had worked with Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin so he knew a thing or two about writing hip-shaking Latin pop with snaking beats, but unfortunately, his lyrics and melody were considered subpar, even by 'Smooth' standards. Plus, 'Room 17' sounds like the name of a crappy direct-to-DVD horror movie starring Neve Campbell.

Rob Thomas was hired to write a brand new vocal melody and set of lyrics, and presented Santana with a re-recorded demo,now complete with barrios anddolls i reference to Mona Lisu.Somehow he resisted the urge to insert the term 'señorita' into the text, so he was hired. Santana loved the vocals, the song, the passion, the implied señoritas, so he played that same guitar riff that he uses in about 100 percent of his songs, and history was made (with Rob Thomas).

Man It's A Hot One: The Fiery Story Behind Santana's Enduring Hit,

Santana and Rob Thomas at the 2000 Grammy Awards.

under the moon

Fun fact about the song "Smooth": It was originally intended to be sung by George Michael. This presents an interesting sliding door scenario. At first it might seem like a missed opportunity; the way they were able to give this song some much needed critical credentials. But this is revisionist thinking in 2019, coming just two years after Michael's untimely death that rightfully made him a music legend.

'Smooth', however, was released in 1999, when George Michael's stock was at its lowest market value. Last year he was arrested for 'public lewdness'. The forward-thinking UK market didn't care, and his greatest hits record debuted at number one and stayed there for eight weeks. Americans weren't so amused, as his 1999 album charted at No. 157, the worst result of his career. If George Michael had sung 'Smooth', chances are it never would have happened:

'Smooth' has become truly timeless. It was written on the wind, frozen in amber, burned forever in the midday sun.

A) Released as the lead single from Santana's album
B) You got picked up by commercial radio and MTV - a necessity if you wanted to sell singles in 1999, or
C) It was seriously treated as a smooth love song for smooth karaoke and smooth compilation albums.

(Video) OMC - How Bizarre (Official Music Video)

Those were much more reserved and homophobic times, especially in the Deep South.

Rob Thomas, on the other hand, was popular: emerging behind four hit singles and a debut album, Matchbox 20, which sold a whopping 15 million copies, in the days of $30 CDs. His stock was the highest it had ever been. Santana bought in bulk, like the rest of the world.

Another interesting fact: there is a seven and a half minute instrumental club mix of this song. Really let it sink in. On the radio version, which is already a full minute shorter than the album version, it already sounds like Santana is playing that same riff about three dozen too many times. Now imagine that with no lyrics, both choruses, and just hanging on to a pleasant but basic groove, Santana wails like he's just lost a baby.

Sadly, this mix has been lost to the annals of time, but a shorter club version is available, adding a pre-drop club style, a tasty shuffle beat and Rob Thomas grumbling 'so smooth' on loop. And only for the first thirty seconds. It's perfect for those who enjoy washing down their MDMA with Corona.

There have even been international versions — or outright rip-offs, depending on how much you fight through life — like Egyptian heartthrob Amr Diab's Albi Ekhatark, which matches the sultry spirit of the original with even more wistful vocals. You can almost hear this guy's abs as he sings.

Side note: “Seven inches from the midday sun” sounds like it should be a series of psychedelic singles released by a vinyl-only indie label.

It's the same as the emotion I get from you

In 2016, 'Smooth' experienced another surge in popularity, as the song becamethe subject of a meme, in that murky way that memes happen where there is irony and sincerityblurred beyond the point of recognition.

(Video) Sade - Smooth Operator - Official - 1984

It's not hard to see how the perverse appeal of this song made it ripe for such treatment. The opening lyrics are instantly recognisable, the riff can be transposed and placed anywhere, and the words are sincerely spoken but incredibly stupid. Also, they rarely rhyme, relying mostly on assonance: mood/smooth/moon/you. Just try saying "you're a step to my rhythm" to someone and see how smooth a sentence it really is.


Why '10 Things I Hate About You' is still the perfect teenage movie soundtrack

Therein lies the real appeal of the song. 'Smooth' remains the least polished and most sexless song about sex ever to evoke sex. I seriously doubt anyone has ever had sex to this song, unless it came right after the Portishead song on some 90's CDR mix.

It's a song about sex that you can listen to with your parents in the car and not be embarrassed. It's a song you can laugh at, sing along to and enjoy - ironically, unironically, it doesn't matter if it brings you joy. Your kids will love it. Your grandparents are already doing it. It was never cool or cutting edge, so it hasn't aged. It does not reflect any specific era, neither in its production, nor in its musical selections, nor in its genre. It stands on its own. He dances to his own rhythm.

Because of this, 'Smooth' has become truly timeless. It was written on the wind, frozen in amber, burned forever in the midday sun.

(Video) Cam'Ron - Hey Ma (Official Music Video) ft. Juelz Santana

Nathan Jolly is a Sydney-based freelance writer and former editorMusic network, and tweets from@NathanJolly

All this week Junkee is going back in time to relive the biggest pop culture moments of 1999. For more content from 1999.head here.


How do I find a song by humming? ›

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google app .
  2. In the search bar, tap the mic .
  3. Ask "What's this song?" or tap Search a song.
  4. Play a song or hum, whistle, or sing the melody of a song. Play a song: Google will identify the song. Hum, whistle, or sing: Google will identify potential matches for the song.

What song was #23 in the year 2000? ›

Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2000
23"I Need to Know"Marc Anthony
24"Get It On Tonite"Montell Jordan
26"I Try"Macy Gray
96 more rows

What was the hit song in 2000? ›

The #1 song of 2000, "Breathe" by Faith Hill, never reached #1 on the weekly charts.

What is the most streamed Latin song? ›

Top 100 Most Popular Spanish Songs of All Time (Music Playlist Updated in May 2023)
  • Despacito. Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee.
  • Bailando - Spanish Version. Enrique Iglesias, Descemer Bueno, Gente De Zona.
  • Río Atrato. Domingo Chalá
  • Chantaje (feat. Maluma) ...
  • Calma - Remix. Pedro Capó, Farruko.
  • ¿Cuando Nos Vemos? ...
  • Con Calma. ...
  • Criminal.

Can I hum a song to Siri? ›

You can use Siri to identify a song on most Apple devices, including the Apple Watch, but it has to be the original version. It won't recognize your humming or singing.

Can Shazam detect humming? ›

When you hum a melody into Search, our machine learning models transform the audio into a number-based sequence representing the song's melody. Our models are trained to identify songs based on a variety of sources, including humans singing, whistling or humming, as well as studio recordings.

What was the number one hit song in 2001? ›

Hanging by a Moment

What was the hottest hip hop song in 2000? ›

According to Billboard, the top 3 Songs for 2000 were: Independent Women Part I by Destiny's Child, Ms. Jackson by OutKast, and I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) by JAY-Z.

What was the number 1 song of 1999? ›


Who had the most number 1 hits in the 2000s? ›

Usher accumulated the most number-one entries (seven) and the most weeks atop the chart (42 weeks) throughout the 2000s.

What was the number one song in 1986? ›

That's What Friends Are For

What was the #1 song in 2002? ›

How You Remind Me

What is the 1 streamed song ever? ›

As of May 2023, "Blinding Lights" (2019) by Canadian singer the Weeknd is the most-streamed song of all time on Spotify, while "Dance Monkey" (2019) by Australian singer-songwriter Tones and I is the most-streamed song by a female artist.

What is the most said word in songs? ›

The most used word in songs is “love. ” This is not surprising, as love is a common theme in many songs, ranging from romantic love to family love. In fact, a study conducted by University of Bristol shows that love is the single most common theme in popular music across cultures, genres, and time periods.

What is the number 1 Latin song of all time? ›

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi ft.

This song has become the most notorious Spanish song of all time!

How do I find a song stuck in my head? ›

Google has become so good at identifying songs this way that we can't remember the last time it could not find the song we were looking for. When you have an earworm stuck in your head that you can't get out, use the Google Assistant or Google app song-finding feature and hum the melody you remember.

Can Shazam hear your phone? ›

Shazam needs access to the microphone on your device to hear what you're listening to. On iPhone or iPad, open Settings, scroll down to the installed apps, tap Shazam, then turn on Microphone. If you don't see an option for Microphone, you might have restrictions turned on for Privacy settings.

How is Shazam so accurate? ›

How does the Shazam algorithm work? The Shazam algorithm distills samples of a song into fingerprints, and matches these fingerprints against fingerprints from known songs, taking into account their timing relative to each other within a song.

Is Shazam accurate? ›

The Shazam algorithm can only identify prerecorded music. For Shazam to identify a song you're singing, you'd need to have the same vocals with the instrumentals at the exact tempo with the song's original recording.

Who was number 1 today 2001? ›

Daniel Bedingfield was Number 1 today in 2001.

What was the #1 song in 1998? ›

Too Close

What was the #1 song in 1996? ›


What is the hottest song in the world? ›

Top 10 Sexiest Songs of All Time
  • “The Thong Song” by Sisqo:
  • 7. “ You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate:
  • “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal:
  • “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard:
  • “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC:
  • 3. “ Let's Get it On” by Marvin Gaye:
  • “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails:
  • “Cry to Me” by Solomon Burke:

What was the first number 1 hip-hop song? ›

The inaugural number-one single on Hot Rap Singles was "Self Destruction" by the Stop the Violence Movement. From its 1989 inception until 2001, the chart was based solely on each single's weekly sales.

What was the first #1 hip-hop? ›

And on Nov. 3, 1990, rap cemented its finally unignorable mainstream influence with its first-ever No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100: Vanilla Ice's “Ice Ice Baby.”

What was the biggest selling song in 1999? ›


What was the first song to hit number 1? ›

The first number-one song of the Billboard Hot 100 was "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson, on August 4, 1958.

What was the #1 song in 1995? ›

Gangsta's Paradise

What is the biggest number one hit ever? ›

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You (10 weeks)

What is the longest number 1 hits of all time? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond. "The Box" charted at No.

Who has the most number one hit songs in history? ›

The Beatles have the most No. 1 hits of all time: 20. Though unclear for how long, the Beatles still reign supreme as the artist with the most No. 1 songs of all time.

What was the #1 song of the 80s? ›

Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" remained the longest at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s (10 weeks).

What is the most sold song of 1986? ›

Official Top 40 best-selling songs of 1986
36 more rows
Apr 16, 2021

What was the #1 song of 1985? ›

Careless Whisper

What was the number 1 song in 2003? ›

In da Club

What was the number 1 song in 2004? ›

"Yeah!" is the best-performing single of the calendar year, having topped the Top Hot 100 Hits of 2004.

What song was #1 Jan 1 2000? ›

“Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas was the No. 1 song on Jan. 1, 2000. It topped the chart since October.

What was the first song to reach $1 billion? ›

Seven years ago, Drake became the first artist to have a song reach one billion plays on Spotify with his smash "One Dance," from the 2016 album "Views." As the streaming service has grown, songs can generate huge streaming numbers quickly.

What is the #1 most streamed song in the US? ›

What is the most listened to song on Spotify? The most-streamed song in Spotify history is credited to… The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights."

What is the fastest song to reach 1 billion? ›

Miley Cyrus' 'Flowers' becomes the fastest record to reach a billion Spotify streams.

What is the most said word in us? ›

Here's the List of the 1000 Most Common English Words
  • be – “Will you be my friend?”
  • and – “You and I will always be friends.”
  • of – “Today is the first of November.”
  • a – “I saw a bear today.”
  • in – “She is in her room.”
  • to – “Let's go to the park.”
  • have – “I have a few questions.”
  • too – “I like her too.”

What is the longest song title in words? ›

#1. Sufjan Stevens – ''The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands! '''

What singer holds the world record for most words in a song? ›

Question: What singer holds the world record for most words in a hit single? Answer: Eminem. Detroit-native, Eminem, set the Guinness world record with the song "Rap God" clocking in 1,560 words in six minutes. Eminem rapped an average of 4.28 words per second in the track.

Who is the best selling Latin singer of all time? ›

Luis Miguel is the artist with the most entries on the certified list with fourteen albums, while Colombian pop singer Shakira has the most entries by a female artist with four.

Who is the #1 Latin singer? ›

Bad Bunny

Benito is simply the most famous Latin artist in the world right now.

What is the shortest number one song? ›

On Nov. 21 1960, “Stay” topped the Billboard Charts for one week. It has the distinction of being the 'shortest' No. #1 song ever, clocking in at a very minuscule 98 seconds!

What app can I hum a song and it tells me what it is? ›

Press the SoundHound button, sing or hum the tune, and we'll do the rest! Music Discovery: 'Hey SoundHound… What's that song?

What is the best humming music finder? ›

SoundHound was not the first music discovery app to come along, but it is definitely one of the best apps out there. One that can truly give Shazam a run for its money. It will pretty much recognize any song you hum or sing into your phone's speaker.

How do I find out what song is playing on my phone? ›

Identify songs in the Shazam app
  1. On iPhone, iPad, or Android, do one of the following: Open the Shazam app , then tap the Shazam button . Touch and hold the Shazam app icon , then tap Shazam Now. ...
  2. Tap to play the song. The song plays in the Now Playing screen.

How do I find a song by humming on my Android phone? ›

On your phone, touch and hold the Home button or say "Hey Google." Ask "What's this song?" Play a song or hum, whistle, or sing the melody of a song. Hum, whistle, or sing: Google Assistant will identify potential matches for the song.

Is SoundHound free? ›

The app is available in both a free version and a paid, ad-free version dubbed SoundHound Infinity.

Does the Google hum the song work? ›

What's left is that fingerprint. The machine learning models, then converts the sound to a number-based sequence that represents the unique melody. To sum it up, those models identify the melody from humming, whistling, or singing the tune to provide you with the matching song.

What frequency is humming? ›

The sound, always peaking between 30 and 40 Hz, was found to only be heard during cool weather with a light breeze, and often early in the morning. These noises were often confined to a 10-kilometre (6 mi) wide area.

Which is best SoundHound or Shazam? ›

Shazam is the simpler app, perfect for people who simply want to tag a track and move on. SoundHound is better suited to music aficionados who want to get all the information related to the song, and possibly even discover some new music along the way.

Is Shazam the best music finder? ›

Shazam. Based on popularity alone and its accurate music recognition, Shazam is the app to beat in this showdown. The app features a simple interface. Upon opening it, tap its iconic logo button to start listening for music to identify.

Is Shazam free app? ›

Shazam will identify any song in seconds. Discover artists, lyrics, videos & playlists, all for free. Over 1 billion installs and counting!

Can you Shazam your own phone? ›

Use Auto Shazam

To have Shazam automatically identify what's playing around you, turn on Auto Shazam: Touch and hold the Shazam app in the app drawer, then tap Auto Shazam. Open the Shazam app on your device, then touch and hold the Shazam button .

Can you see song plays on iPhone? ›

On your iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings > Music and turn on Use Listening History. On your Mac: In the Apple Music app, choose Music > Settings, click the General tab, then select Use Listening History.


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