“How do you do it, got me losing every breath/Why did you kiss me to make my heart beat out my chest?”
In the world of pop music, lyrics are often easily perceived to be said or sung to someone of the opposite sex. But in the case of Sam Smith, a recent interview hints that it isn’t best to assume the gender of the person he is singing to.
The British singer, who has been known to describe himself as a “male diva,” is on the cover of the latest issue of Fader magazine. In an interview, he reveals that his latest album is highly influenced by an unrequited love he had for another man. “[The album] is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn’t love me back,” he says. “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?”
Smith goes on to discuss the politics of who he is supposedly singing to. “People wouldn’t ask a straight person these questions,” he says. “I’ve tried to be clever with this album, because it’s also important to me that my music reaches everybody. I’ve made my music so that it could be about anything and everybody — whether it’s a guy, a female or a goat — and everybody can relate to that. I’m not in this industry to talk about my personal life unless it’s in a musical form.”
No matter the gender of whom Smith is singing to, he knows how to lay down his heart and soul in his music. In tracks like “Money on My Mind,” his vocals soar above the syncopated beat of the drums, his performance reminiscent of those heard on great northern soul tracks. Smith’s collaboration with Disclosure, “Latch,” may be what brought him his first major mainstream attention in 2013, but it is in the solo acoustic version of the track that audiences can really hear a voice that seeks — and succeeds — to portray a full range of emotion.
Smith’s latest single, “Leave Your Lover,” was released last week on May 22, with a video in which he is seen cavorting with a male and female friend, but the video ends with a very similar situation in which Smith is left pining for his love interest in the video, a very attractive man. The video garnered some press attention, including from website Queerty, which asked, “Did Sam Smith Just Come Out in His Music Video?” Check it out below.