If Sam Smith is marketed correctly in the United States, then we've got a brand new star on our hands.
I’ve been a loyal 'Saturday Night Live' viewer since the days of Adam Sandler. And though the iconic sketch comedy show is going through a “rebuilding year”, the quality of hosts and musical guests continues to show up. But perhaps no musical guest has impressed me and the viewing public in a long time the way Sam Smith did this past weekend.
‘SNL’ has a way of introducing little-known acts to the mainstream public, soon launching them to mega success. Such names at least for me are The Kings Of Leon, James Blunt, and Dane Cook. While others whither away performing on LIVE national TV (agh Ashlee Simpson), some shine and are set on a course for stardom. Ladies and Gentlemen, Sam Smith is the next big thing.
Funny thing is, about a minute into Smith’s first amazing performance of the show, “Stay With Me," I realized I’ve seen this guy before. You see theMantality’s very own Adam Jack covered the EDM group Disclosure back in the beginning of 2013.
One of his points of emphasis was the group’s duet with another young Brit, you guessed it, Sam Smith. I myself am not the biggest fan of EDM and the like. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it as a genre, but it’s just not my go-to, no offense Adam! But when I originally heard “Latch,” what stood out was the guy with the ridiculous vocals. Through the two-step and electronica, Sam Smith’s velvety smoothness was more than apparent. More songs like this might make me a believer in EDM after all.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago as I drove home late one night. With the radio on, the DJ begins to speak of a new track he is about to play. It’s a pop station that plays a little bit of everything, but it’s late at night so these guys tend to push some of the boundaries. He says the next song is from DJ Naughty Boy.
Great, I think to myself. Another Aviici. Another case of a nameless singer lending his/her talent that is somehow deemed less important than the person who crafted the beat. I soon was concerned with the “LA LA LA.” And then the first verse came in. There was that voice again, I thought. I knew I had heard it before, but there was no mention of the singer. The radio DJ only spoke about how Naughty Boy was delivering pizzas this time last year, and now his jam was being played on the air. Props indeed. But what about the vocalist!
Then on Saturday Night Live as Louis C.K. introduces Sam Smith, I waited, not knowing what to expect, although the cross earrings did remind me of another performer from across the pond, George Michael. Is he a Sir?
Anyway, then the 21-year-old Brit began to sing, or more appropriately sanggggg; because that’s what he did! Smith opened with a stirring rendition of “Stay With Me,” the first single off the LP, ‘In The Lonely Hour.' Buttery smooth was Sam, as the chilled musical vibe and string-tastic arrangement left plenty of room for his vocal acrobatics.
Smith’s runs and trills were spot on; he showed no signs of going off-pitch or even the slightest hint of vocal strain. His delivery was flawless; he truly made it look simple. The choir behind Sam was a nice touch that only enhanced the performance.
As I geared up for the second performance of the night, I was now Googling (is that a word?) this fella. Bam! The first article I read via VH1.com finally put all into perspective. It spoke of Smith’s collaboration with Disclosure and his most recent work with Naughty Boy. See, I knew I wasn’t going crazy! I know good music when I hear it. With the Googling now complete, “Lay Me Down” began.
From the first note I was hooked. Talk about the combination of breathiness and strength, all wrapped up into one angelic voice. On stage with just a simple piano and cello backing, Smith’s vocals reigned supreme. Damn, if I didn’t feel like I was listening to the young Marvin Gaye. High praise? Too soon? Maybe.
But who cares! With this kind of talent, you’d be bit braggadocios. Sam Smith is a vocal chameleon. In his tone I heard old school R&B, top of the charts pop, filthy blues, a slight EDM flare even a bit of show tune-esqness rang out. Talk about diversity!
If Sam Smith is marketed correctly in the States, then we’ve got a genuine new star on our hands that will transcend musical boundaries across all continents.