Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 2000

Smooth by Santana (featuring Rob Thomas)

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This hot flavored sensual dance record was an international hit that expanded Santana's popularity to a new generation of fans.

Song: Smooth
Artist: Santana (featuring Rob Thomas)
Album: Supernatural
Songwriter: Rob Thomas, Itaal Shur
Producer: Clive David, Corlos Santana

Smooth describes the singer's desire for a smooth-looking and acting lover who's playing hard to get. He tells her how hot he is for her and for her to "... just say yes or forget about it!". 

Any lyric that starts with "It's a hot one, seven inches from the midday sun" is not going to be your typical moon, spoon, June middle of the pop song. The sexy, sultry story of a man captivated by a woman is told with great imagery and attitude. Man it's a hot one Like seven inches from the midday sun I hear you whispering the words that melt everyone But you stay so cool My muñequita, my Spanish harlem mona lisa You're my reason for reason The step in my groove And if you said this life ain't good enough I would give my world to lift you up I could change my life to better suit your mood Cause you're so smooth And just like the ocean under the moon Well it's the same as the emotion that I get from you You got the kind of lovin that can be so smooth Give me your heart, make it real Or else forget about it

The straight ahead barely syncopated Latin 8th note track is played over a strong quarter note feel. This sets a great background for Thomas' heavily syncopated vocals. There are a few 16th overlays in the Latin percussion, probably congas, and a very effective triplet figure in the break after the chorus that sets up a hot salsa-like solo section that showcases Carlos Santana's guitar work.

The recording starts off with a 7-tone minor figure in the background (emphasizing the flat 6 of the scale, a gypsy-like color) while Santana plays a 6-tone minor scale guitar riff. This is different than the minor pentatonic riffs of his earlier music. Thomas' melody is written in 6-tone minor (minor pentatonic with a 2nd tone of the scale added). The melody itself is very step-like but it contains a few leaps of a 4th in the chorus for distinctive shape.

Smooth uses only 4 chords, the i, iv, and major V chord, the basic chording of harmonic minor (Am, Dm, and E). In addition a ii diminished chord is used in passing (B dim). This harmonization is very popular in Latin dance music and is the most popular chording of the past year on the pop charts.

Two-part song form with both verse and chorus repeated. Signature A A B B Signature A A B B Solo B B Signature.

Features a 7-tone minor scale figure in the background and a guitar riff with the distinctive Carlos Santana sound.

The sensual up-tempo 8th groove is as smooth as the lyrics and Santana's guitar work is impeccably tasteful as well as very familiar sounding. The end result is incredibly satisfying both as a dance tune and a listening experience

Thomas sings with all the sexy emotion the song asks for. Carlos Santana delivers the tasty hot guitar licks that have made him a pop legend.

Predicted Longevity
This song will be played for years in nearly every pop music oriented bar and lounge in every city in the world. People will dance, some make love, perhaps fall in love, while listening to this song. There may even may be Smooth-babies conceived to these engaging sounds and rhythms. In other words, this song could have a lasting influence for generations.

Album Cover: Supernatural

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