Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, a.k.a. Sting (born 2 October 1951), 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 in 2000, was his last hit single 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- Quadrophenia (1979)
- Radio On (1980)
- Artemis 81 (1981)
- Brimstone and Treacle (1982)
- Dune (1984)
- Plenty (1985)
- The Bride (1985)
- Bring On the Night (1985)
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
- Stormy Monday (1988)
- Julia and Julia (1988)
- The Grotesque (1995)
- Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
- Bee Movie (2007)
- Brüno (2009)
- Zoolander 2 (2016)
Other acting work:
- Gormenghast (1984 BBC radio adaptation of the novels)
- Three Penny Opera (1989)
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990-92)
- Peter and the Wolf (1993 TV adaptation)
- The Last Ship (2014 — the Broadway musical, not the TV series)
- 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).
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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."
- 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." The 2011 collection 25 Years, comprised of 31 tracks, necessarily included some non-hits. There was also a compilation of his solo and Police hits released in 1997.
- Grief Song: The Soul Cages was basically a whole grief album, written after both his parents died.
- 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:
- ...Nothing Like The Sun is a quote from a Shakespeare sonnet.
- The Soul Cages takes its name from an Irish folk tale in William Butler Yeats' collection.
- Ten Summoner's Tales derives from a Geoffrey Chaucer character (and is also a play on Sting's real last name, Sumner).
- If on a Winter's Night... is named after Italo Calvino's novel If on a winters night a traveler.
- Mr. Fanservice: Tall, blond and handsome, Sting did quite a few shirtless scenes in both his videos and his acting work.
- One Mario Limit: Averted, though it's only a Two-Mario Limit with Steve Borden.
- 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 diamondsHe may lay the queen of spades
- Protest Song: A bunch of them, including "Russians," "Children's Crusade," "They Dance Alone," etc.
- 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 to Shakespeare: The Bard 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.
- 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.