Even when he had Yuri Andropov to deal with, Ronald Reagan assumed the Russians loved their children too, which made him smarter than Sting.
In a career devoted to wedding first-class hooks to horrifying lyrics, the former schoolteacher turned into the George Will of late twentieth century pop, exploiting Bartlett’s-level literacy as a poseur might; when he cited Nabokov and alluded to Scylla and Charybdis, he used them as a teddy boy might a duck tail or a punk might a Mohawk. As crass as this looks, rock and roll demands shameless hustlers like Gordon Sumner; what humankind doesn’t deserve is Brandon Marsalis inventing a horn chart accompaniment for them. When the ENC 1101 tricks bored him, he turned to self-cannibalization: quoting “If You Love Someone, Set Them Free” in the stupid I-need-a-hit “We’ll Be Together,” reprising the trick again with “Love is the Seventh Wave” on a track I can’t remember on Ten Summoner’s Tales. What makes “If You Love Someone, Set Them Free” an especially rebarbative example of Sting’s hack tendencies is the cynicism with which he trades a promising title conceit for a sociopath’s Paul Simon mimicry (“Gotta lock it up and throw away the key”) that is at once smothered by soprano sax bleats.
Fortunately for Sting, he had Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland not putting up with his shit. The Police’s technical virtuosity and empathy as musicians mitigated their leader’s most grievous flaws until their last and worst album (to be fair to Sting, his bros were perfectly capable of shitty songs on their own, as this list shows).
2. Synchronicity 1
3. Consider Me Gone
4. Saint Augustine in Hell
5. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
6. If You Love Someone, Set Them Free
7. Does Everybody Stare?
8. History Will Teach Us Nothing
9. Little Wing
10. Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
11. Love is Stronger Than Justice
12. Behind My Camel
13. Regatta de Blanc