Follow TV Tropes


Music / Sting

Go To
That's not Sting! That's a picture of Sti—
—wait, wrong Sting.
"Sting. Sting would be another person who's a hero. The music he's created over the years, I don't really listen to it. But the fact that he's making it, I respect that."
Hansel, Zoolander

Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE (born 2 October 1951), better known as Sting, is an English singer-songwriter and sometime actor who launched a successful solo career after a short but spectacular run fronting The Police. Without Stewart Copeland's influence his sound became mellower, and he became a staple of Adult Contemporary radio stations, while still dabbling in a variety of genres.

Some of his most popular songs include "Fields of Gold", "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free", "Fortress Around Your Heart", "We'll Be Together", "All This Time", and "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You". "Desert Rose", released as a single in 2000, was his last hit in the U.S., though he's enjoyed somewhat greater longevity in Europe.

His son, Joe Sumner, followed in his footsteps, becoming the lead vocalist and bassist for the group Fiction Plane.

Not to be confused with the wrestler or with the other kind of Musical Sting.

Studio Discography:

  • The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985)
  • ...Nothing Like the Sun (1987)
  • The Soul Cages (1991)
  • Ten Summoner's Tales (1993)
  • Mercury Falling (1996)
  • Brand New Day (1999)
  • Sacred Love (2003)
  • Songs from the Labyrinth (2006)
  • If on a Winter's Night... (2009)
  • Symphonicities (2010)
  • The Last Ship (2013)
  • 57th & 9th (2016)
  • My Songs (2019)
  • The Bridge (2021)

Live Discography:

  • Bring On the Night (1986)
  • Acoustic Live in Newcastle (1991)
  • ...All This Time (2001)
  • The Journey and the Labyrinth (2007)
  • Live in Berlin (2010)
  • Live at the Olympia Paris (2017)


Other acting work:

Desert Tropes:

  • As Himself: He's appeared as himself in a number of TV shows, including The Simpsons, The Larry Sanders Show, Ally McBeal and The Vicar of Dibley. His recent movie appearances have been this also, with varying degrees of fictionalization (Zoolander 2 gave him a son that he doesn't actually have, while Only Murders in the Building makes him a New York City resident and a murder suspect).
  • Award-Bait Song: "All For Love," a collaboration with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart for The Three Musketeers (1993), as well as "My Funny Friend and Me" for The Emperor's New Groove. The latter was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
  • Book Ends: Mercury Falling begins and ends with a Title Drop. The first words on "The Hounds of Winter" are "Mercury falling, I rise from my bed," while the last words on "Lithium Sunset" are "see Mercury falling."
  • Book Worm: Sting loves to read, and his lyrics are packed with literary references. "Moon Over Bourbon Street," for example, is based on Interview with the Vampire, and "The Soul Cages" is based on a story in William Butler Yeats' collection of Irish folk tales. Also see Shout-Out to Shakespeare below.
  • Call-Back:
    • The outro of "Seven Days" quotes the second verse of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic".
    • Sting includes a brief, joking nod to "Every Breath You Take" in the fade-out of "Love Is The Seventh Wave", where he sings "Every breath you take, every move you make, every cake you bake, every leg you break".
    • At the end of "We'll Be Together", Sting briefly reprises the lyrics of "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free".
    • Midway through "Dead Man's Rope", Sting breaks into the chorus from "Walking in Your Footsteps".
  • Christmas Songs: If on a Winter's Night... is a Christmas album, though it avoids the glurgey standards in favor of older folk songs and hymns.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The DC Comics character John Constantine was originally designed with Sting's appearance "purely to get [him] into the story", according to the character's co-creator Alan Moore.
    • Went full-circle when the man himself put on the iconic trenchcoat to announce he'd write the foreword to the Hellblazer 30th Anniversary edition.
  • Cover Version:
    • ...Nothing Like the Sun features a cover of "Little Wing" by Jimi Hendrix as the penultimate track.
    • On the 2016 Rock Paper Scissors tour with Peter Gabriel, the two musicians would perform "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" by Gabriel's former band, Genesis; on some shows, Sting played the song himself. The song was chosen due to its applicability to Brexit, which Sting vocally opposed.
  • Disco Dan: Sting admitted in his memoir that the bands he played with before The Police were almost defiantly behind the times, playing jazz and show tunes while glam rock and heavy metal were climbing the charts. It was Stewart Copeland who dragged him somewhere in the vicinity of coolness by bringing punk and reggae beats to his songs. After he went solo, Sting started sounding lighter and jazzier again, and in 2006 left pop music entirely (see Genre Shift below).
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Sting prefers to be called by his stage name rather than his birth name, "Gordon".
    Sting: I was never called Gordon. You could shout 'Gordon!' in the street and I would just move out of your way.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Sting's first two solo albums featured strong elements of Jazz Fusion, picking up where The Police's Synchronicity left off. The Soul Cages would instigate a shift to a firmer Soft Rock sound, though the artsy Concept Album approach of it meant that Sting wouldn't fully settle into his Signature Style until Ten Summoner's Tales.
  • Evolving Music: Symphonicities is an album of Sting's songs rearranged for a symphony orchestra. Separately he re-recorded some of his other songs with different arrangements, including "Shadows in the Rain", "Roxanne" and "Fragile."
  • Finale Title Drop: The last words on "Lithium Sunset", the closing track on Mercury Falling, are "see Mercury falling."
  • Genre Shift: After 20 years of making pop albums, in 2006 Sting dove into Elizabethan music with Songs from the Labyrinth. He stayed in the classical groove for a while, not putting out a new pop album until 2016.
  • Greatest Hits Album:
    • Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994 compiled his hits up to that point along with a new single, "When We Dance."
    • 1997's The Very Best of Sting & The Police combines both solo hits and works by The Police, including a new remix of "Roxanne" by Sean Combs to capitalize on the latter sampling "Every Breath You Take" in "I'll Be Missing You". The album was later reissued twice with modified tracklists: the 1998 version removed "Russians" and added "Seven Days", "Fragile", and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da", while the 2002 reissue removed "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot", "Russians", and the "Roxanne" remix while adding "Brand New Day", "Desert Rose", and "So Lonely".
    • The 2011 collection 25 Years, comprised of 31 tracks, necessarily included some non-hits.
  • Grief Song: The Soul Cages was basically a whole grief album, written after his father died.
    • Several of the songs on ...Nothing Like the Sun were influenced by the passing of Sting's mother the year prior; in particular, the opening track "The Lazarus Heart" was his dedication to her.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: What Could Have Been which describes the irreversible descent into darkness of the singer due to the wronging of someone that they thought loved them. Used to great effect, in the point of no return scene for the villain in the animated series Arcane.
  • Insistent Terminology: The liner notes for The Dream of the Blue Turtles feature a brief blurb where Sting lambasts the labeling of it as a "solo album," stating that the name falsely attributes all the work behind it to him alone.
  • Let's Duet: An increasingly common practice in the later part of his career. Duet partners have included Mary J. Blige, Dire Straits and Sheryl Crow. His duet with Toby Keith covering Sting's own song "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" outsold the original.
  • Literary Allusion Title: As noted, Sting's literary allusions could take up a page of their own, but here's a rundown of album titles:
  • Mr. Fanservice: Tall, blond and handsome, Sting did quite a few shirtless scenes in both his videos and his acting work.
    • Both he and David Lynch wanted his Space Speedo scene in Dune (1984) to be a nude scene, but the studio wouldn't hear it.
  • New Sound Album: Ten Summoner's Tales cut out the art pop and funk rock leanings of Sting's first three albums in favor of straight pop rock, Songs from the Labyrinth was a Genre Shift to contemporary classical music, and 57th & 9th brought Sting back into the pop rock sound.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: According to him, everyone calls him Sting now, even his family.
  • Oop North: Sting was born and raised near Newcastle, which inspired his stage musical and album The Last Ship, about the decline of the shipbuilding industry there. Newcastle imagery also features prominently on The Soul Cages.
  • Playing Card Motifs: "Shape of My Heart," including this Double Entendre:
    He may play the jack of diamonds
    He may lay the queen of spades
  • Protest Song: A bunch of them, including "Russians," "Children's Crusade," "They Dance Alone," etc.
  • Pun-Based Title: Ten Summoner's Tales plays off of the phonetic similarity between "summoner" and Sting's real name, Gordon Sumner. Discounting the prologue and epilogue (or just the epilogue on LP and US CD copies), the album consists primarily of ten narrative songs, essentially being ten Sumner's tales.
  • Rearrange the Song: Symphonicities and My Songs are both a collection of rearranged versions of Sting's previous hits; the first is in the style of symphonic orchestra music (hence the name), the second in the style of contemporary pop, presumably to act as a gateway album to the Millennial and Gen Z crowd.
  • Recycled Lyrics: He likes to put bits of previous hits into the fade-outs of songs. For instance, "Love is the Seventh Wave" ends with him riffing on "Every Breath You Take," "Seven Days" fades out with an excerpt of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," and "We'll Be Together" calls back to "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free."
  • Rockumentary: Bring On the Night documented the making of The Dream of the Blue Turtles and other songs Sting created right after leaving The Police.
  • Shout-Out: William Shakespeare is quoted several times in Sting's lyrics. The album title ...Nothing Like the Sun comes from one of Shakespeare's sonnets, which is quoted more fully in the song "Sister Moon."
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Sting was a bit put out that his most famous song with The Police was an Obsession Song, "Every Breath You Take." So he wrote "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" as a direct negation of it. ("Fortress Around Your Heart," from the same album, echoes the theme.)
  • Stage Name: His was bestowed by a pre-Police bandmate, because of a black-and-yellow striped sweater that he wore. The nicknamer was also named Gordon, so this may also be an example of One-Steve Limit.
  • Take That, Critics!: The devil's narration in "Saint Augustine In Hell" makes sure to mention music critics are burning in hell.
  • Uncommon Time: Sting's jazzier numbers are often in oddball time signatures. "Straight To My Heart" is in 7/4, "Seven Days" is in 5/4, "St. Augustine in Hell" is in 7/8, among others.

The Last Ship Tropes

Tropes found in the theatrical album and stage adaptation of The Last Ship.
A musical based on Sting's childhood growing up in the town of Wallsend, set in the last days of the final shipyard left in England. A few different versions of the show exists, as well as an album from 2014.

  • As the Good Book Says...: Biblical references abound. The title song opens "It's all there in the Gospel" and relates an unconventional story of Jesus's resurrection.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: In the first song, Gideon and Meg are still teenagers when they promise each other they will leave Wallsend and explore the world together.
  • Good Shepherd: Father James O'Brian, who sides with the union workers when the shipyard is in peril, and encourages them to take bold action.
  • Meaningful Name: In at least one staged production, the last ship itself is named Utopia.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted on the 2014 album, where the two women in the cast are named Peggy and Meg, both variants of Margaret.
  • Parting-Words Regret: In "Dead Man's Boots," Gideon remembers a conversation between himself and his father, which ended when Gideon said "You'll die before you see me in these dead man's boots."
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Behind Gideon's bluster and pride, he's never stopped missing his father and wanting his approval.


Video Example(s):


Do They Know Its Christmastime

A group of 80s British rockers (originally called Band Aid, but for legal reasons changed to Live Aid) sing a song about Christmas in Africa to raise money for Ethiopians suffering through famine. The Pop-Up Video provides details about their efforts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CharityMotivationSong

Media sources: