"Smooth" was originally conceived by Shur as a song called "Room 17". The lyrics were stripped off and the track was given to Thomas, who re-wrote the lyrics and melody and re-titled it "Smooth", then recorded the song as a demo to play for Santana. After hearing the song, Santana decided to have Thomas record the final version. Matt Serletic (who produced Matchbox Twenty's debut album Yourself or Someone Like You) produced the song and it was released from Santana's album Supernatural. Thomas originally had George Michael in mind to sing the song.
"Smooth" became a chart-topping hit in 1999, spending 12 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 beginning with the issue of October 23, 1999. It was the first chart-topping song in Carlos Santana's long-running career (his previous biggest hit having been "Black Magic Woman", which peaked at number four in 1971). "Smooth" stayed in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 for 30 weeks, a record only bested by "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes, "Closer" by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, and "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran. In the United Kingdom, "Smooth" first charted at number 75 in the UK Singles Chart in October 1999. On a full release in March 2000 it peaked at number 3, spending eight weeks in the top 40. The song also peaked at number 3 in Ireland in March 2000, spending ten weeks in the Irish chart. It remains Santana's highest charting single in either Britain or Ireland.
On Billboard magazine's rankings of the top songs of the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, "Smooth" was ranked as the number-two song overall (behind only "The Twist" by Chubby Checker) and the number-one rock song in the history of the chart.
In the 21st century, particularly during the summer of 2016, the song became popular as an internet meme. Writing for MTV.com, Sasha Geffen compared the situation to similar resurgences of "All Star" by Smash Mouth and "One Week" by the Barenaked Ladies, going on to attribute the song's popularity to "the merits of its vocal absurdity." She wrote, "There's something ridiculous about how eagerly Rob Thomas lays his earnest alt-rock croon over Santana's guitar, sweating out lines about how his 'Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa' is 'just like the ocean under the moon' without a hint of self-consciousness or irony'. In 2017, Tanya Sichynsky of The Washington Post similarly opined that, "The opening lyric 'Man, it's a hot one,'... is a punch line that requires no set-up
In popular culture
In January 2014, The Onion published a satirical article joking that "Smooth" had swept the Grammy Awards for 13 years in a row.
Singer Miley Cyrus - as her television alter ego Hannah Montana - made reference to "Smooth" and Santana himself in her song "Gonna Get This."
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