Play It Again, Sam

A lot of gay boys be­lieve they’ve got a big black power diva some­where in­side. Brit star Sam Smith ac­tu­ally does! Marc An­drews re­ports.

DNA Magazine - - SAMPLES - More: In The Lonely Hour is re­leased through EMI Mu­sic. For more go to sam­smith­

MOVE ASIDE RI­HANNA, Katy Perry and Iggy Aza­lea, there’s a new pop tart on the scene. Wel­come to the top of the pop queue Brit­ster Sam Smith who de­clares, “I don’t want to have a genre.” The only genre he has is that ev­ery­thing he does is pop and it’s as catchy as an STI af­ter a long party weekend!

Sam first sprung into mu­si­cal con­scious­ness when his dis­tinc­tive vo­cals were at­tached to band-of-the-mo­ment Dis­clo­sure’s Latch and also on Naughty Boy’s La La La. From that step­ping stone to star­dom he won 2013’s Brit’s Crit­ics Choice Award.

The 22-year-old vo­cal­ist made good on that award when his de­but sin­gle, the brain-tug­ging Money On My Mind hit #1 in the UK. His sec­ond sin­gle, Stay With Me, shot him to the top ten in Aus­tralia off the back of an ex­ten­sive tour that gave au­di­ences the chance to hear his gor­geous, al­most gospel-tinged tones, live.

Now he’s re­leased his de­but al­bum and if you want to hear more of what Sam’s made of, dive right into In The Lonely Hour, which also in­cludes his ear­lier guest hits with Dis­clo­sure and Naughty Boy. Sam is al­most a male ver­sion of Adele with a bit of Amy Wine­house grit­ti­ness tossed into the mix. Much like Adele’s sopho­more al­bum was her huge break­through, and ba­si­cally doc­u­mented a big breakup in her life, so too In The Lonely Hour is about heartache and wait­ing for some­one “to bring me in from the cold” as Sam croons on Leave Your Lover.

“People are say­ing, ‘Oh but it’s too sad’, but that’s what it’s about,” Sam ex­plains mat­terof-factly. “I was sad and I wrote about be­ing sad. Hope­fully I’ll be hap­pier soon and I’ll write about that.” It might be sad, but it’s also beau­ti­fully melan­choly and it’s likely that Sam is go­ing to reap the re­wards at next year’s Gram­mys and other awards fests. In The Lonely Hour is also likely to be­come many people’s favourite go-to al­bum when they need a good

I keep giv­ing my­self to guys who are never go­ing to love me back.

non-gen­der spe­cific al­bum to feel spe­cial about. “Leave him for me” Sam sings on his cur­rent sin­gle, Leave Your Lover, which led to spec­u­la­tion about his sex­u­al­ity.

On the record, Sam has al­ways been coy about which way he swings but in the video for Leave Your Lover he plays out a love tri­an­gle with “it girl” model Daisy Lowe and a sexy man and it is ob­vi­ous in the clip that Sam is boldly mak­ing a play for Daisy’s boyfriend. Daisy and Sam have been BFFs for some time and are of­ten spotted at Lon­don’s hotspots hold­ing hands and en­joy­ing the nightlife to­gether, even writ­ing gooey mes­sages about their love for each other on their Twit­ter ac­counts. Yet it’s clear that this is very much a pla­tonic friend­ship, with Daisy still con­sid­ered one of the most el­i­gi­ble sin­gle women in Europe and Sam, well, as her gifted male buddy.

He fi­nally came clean, as it were, in an in­ter­view that came out af­ter his al­bum. “In The Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year and he didn’t love me back,” he re­vealed. “I think I’m over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feel­ing lonely in the fact that I hadn’t felt love be­fore. I’ve felt the bad things. And what’s a more pow­er­ful emo­tion: pain or hap­pi­ness?

“I feel like I signed off this part of my life where I keep giv­ing my­self to guys who are never go­ing to love me back,” he added. “It’s all there now, and I can move on and hope­fully find a guy who can love me the way I love him.”

But don’t think Sam’s at home feel­ing sorry for him­self. Oh no. “I am happy,” Sam in­sists. “The al­bum is not a sad al­bum, it’s an em­pow­er­ing al­bum. This al­bum is sup­posed to be the sound­track to those quiet mo­ments in life. I al­ways say Dis­clo­sure’s record is what you lis­ten to when you go out club­bing, and my record is what you lis­ten to on the walk home, whether it’s that night, or the morn­ing af­ter.”

As to who he wants to ul­ti­mately em­u­late, Whit­ney Hous­ton has some big shoes to fill but Sam looks like he might man­age. “I was brought up in a house full of girls! So power di­vas are my true gods. I love Chaka Khan and Whit­ney Hous­ton and all the big girls,” he splut­ters. “Aretha, Dionne Warwick, and I adore Ste­vie Won­der and Prince and any­one with soul. I guess you could say my fam­ily lis­tens to black mu­sic mostly and I would like to think that’s where I got my voice. On the in­side, I’m this war­bling soul singer from the ’60s. The one per­son, how­ever, who has in­spired me so much is Bey­oncé, be­cause her de­ter­mi­na­tion and hard work are in­spir­ing for some­one like me, who wants to achieve his dreams. She’s got a real en­ergy and her voice is amaz­ing.”

Do we fi­nally have the male Bey­oncé? Time, and per­haps a few more pry­ing ques­tions, will re­veal all.

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