When Smokey Sings :: ABC

When Smokey Sings | ABC

ABC | When Smokey Sings


We are proud to represent ‘When Smokey Sings’ for sync. This is the recording of their hit single and the band own the masters.

“When Smokey Sings” is a song by the New Wave band, 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. Smokey 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 October 3, 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.

When Smokey Sings | ABC

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. The album’s title and the names of several songs were inspired by the Alphabet City section of Manhattan, New York, where Fry and White lived for a time prior to the album’s release.