Samuel Frederick Smith, professionally known as Sam Smith, has ignited parental concerns over his increasingly unprofessional behavior especially with the recent launch of his Gloria album tour.
Identifying as G and Q in the LGBTQ+ movement, Smith caused dismay when he chose bondage gear, wore almost nothing on stage, and convulsed in Satanic-themed leatherware with a red pitchfork doubling as a dance pole. The venue was not a shady nightclub, but his Gloria concert billed for attendees of all ages.
Kids whether 5 or 15 years of age were at this British run of the Gloria album tour, now slated for arrival in Florida by July of this year. Smith’s new album, created in 2022, has gained the controversy it was designed to make, but many comments for or against his latest concept of what art stands for fall short of what is truly at stake in the world of popular music.
Sam Smith wasn’t always controversial. A song released after he had openly identified himself as LGBTQ+, I’m Not The Only One possesses the rhythms of a sensitive and soulful man who comprehends betrayal, unfaithfulness, and making people feel small. “The proof’s in the way it hurts,” his vocals remind us, and his song shows what any woman or man feels when love is betrayed and you find out your significant other is cheating on you.
Too Good At Goodbyes paces itself well and blends into the audiological ambience of any coffeehouse that takes itself seriously. There is a sense of heartbreak and a loss that ebbs and flows in his vocals.
Unfortunately, the simplicity of such soulfulness has become insufficient for Smith’s other side: his ambition. His newest album marks a radical departure from the introspective Sam Smith the world thought it knew.
An album comprising 13–15 tracks – all of which contain the iconic Unholy and the cleverly-entitled No God – the Gloria compendium is a confusing addition to Smith’s repertoire that does not excite, but rather disgusts.
Unholy functions partly as product placement for Durex condoms, but the centrality of this song is not lost on audiences. Gone is the Sam Smith who loves and weeps and wants wholeness. Rather, his lyrics have degenerated into a black hole of celebratory licentiousness, with mindless hurrahs for a “dirty, dirty boy.” Smith invests in expensive music-video cinematography and exorbitant studio time to tell the world how awesome a promiscuous father is – “he left his kids at home” so that he could visit a brothel or a harem; he’s “at the body shop (brothel/nightclub) doing something unholy.”
“Daddy’s getting hot at the body shop,” Smith sings with glee, and the singer tries to save his ten-year career with layers of sound that add neither pump nor pulse to the flow of music. But he perceives he is able to hold on, both on stage and in the album, even if it is with a celebratory vibe that seems naughty but indeed celebrates irresponsible fathers.
The album Gloria leans far-left with another track, No God, a double pun that invites listeners to atheism with the title, but does not mention atheism in the lyrics per se. In his song, Smith explains his disaffection with religious people, whom he knows are trying to “heal the world,” but he finds them arrogant, intrusive, and overbearing. While Smith is indeed correct that many religious folks make the mistake of being self-assuming, insensitive, and holier-than-thou, Smith’s lashing-out suggests a deeper problem with the titanic struggle between the irreligious and those who are spiritual.
Music has never been more divided than in this day and age. Even Sam Smith, who used to be more of a conflicted soul and a bitter romantic, has evolved in his art and become subsumed by a wanton disregard for anything that resembles an old world. With his newer songs, Smith celebrates betrayal, marital infidelity, and the abandonment of children, and makes allusions to the attractiveness of atheism while simultaneously criticizing those who live morally and do good. He consigns the idea of good as merely an opinion.
With the deterioration of Smith’s lyrical quality, artistic flair, and general management of his public persona, the world is yet again being deprived of the hope that musicians ought to give. Music is meant to grow people, not demean, destroy, or disintegrate. It is a tragic state of things that Smith’s Gloria has gained its corporate commercialization even when a track like Unholy lacks any ability to empower audiences for happy lives in the real world. This is not a sign of the times. It is not a competition between older or younger generations. There is neither an eschatological nor generational debate that can be thought of to exist in this situation.
Rather, the deterioration of Smith’s art is merely an indication of what a lackadaisical music industry does with too much money and pageantry, and too little virtue.