Metro Weekly

Kim Petras’ Rise to the Top Was Immediate. Can She Follow It Up?

The German-born singer-songwriter recently topped charts all around the world. Can she can ride the wave to superstardom.

Kim Petras -- Photo: Jason Al-Taan
Kim Petras — Photo: Jason Al-Taan

To say that the last month has been massive for Kim Petras and her career would be a severe understatement.

In the past five weeks or so, the German-born singer-songwriter has topped charts all around the world, earned a nod for the biggest prize in music, and made history in a multitude of ways. Now, at the very height of her success, questions have popped up regarding whether she can ride this wave and continue her ascent to proper superstardom.

Throughout October, Petras and her singing partner Sam Smith conquered charts all around the world with their shockingly successful collaboration “Unholy.”

The tune debuted inside the top 10 on rankings in a number of major markets, and eventually it climbed to the summit in many of them. The collab made its way to No. 1 in nations like the U.K. and the U.S., marking a first for both musicians in the latter country.

In fact, not only was “Unholy” the initial chart champion for both Smith and Petras, it was a historic win for the singers. Once the dance-pop cut bolted to the throne on the Hot 100 in the United States, it made them the first nonbinary and openly trans performers, respectively, to rule over the most competitive ranking in the largest music market in the world.

As if securing that spot in the history books and shattering more than one glass ceiling simultaneously wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, “Unholy” was nominated for a Grammy, surprising many, as it barely made the cutoff for eligibility.

The duet is currently up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, competing against tunes by heavyweights like ABBA, Doja Cat, BTS, and Coldplay. Smith already has a slew of trophies on their shelf at home, while Petras appears to be the first openly trans singer to appear in the category.

Sam Smith and Kim Petras - Photo: Michael Bailey Gates
Sam Smith and Kim Petras – Photo: Michael Bailey Gates

For most musicians, a No. 1 single and a Grammy nomination would be enough to satisfy an entire career, but for Petras, this is something of a starting point. She has been steadily doling out dance and pop bangers for half a decade at this point, but until the latter half of 2022, she was really not well known outside the LGBTQ community.

She had scored a handful of minor successes, but until her Smith collaboration premiered, she had yet to break through to the mainstream. Now that she has, she’s looking to capitalize on this incredible and unlikely moment — but is it working?

In mid-November, Petras quickly released her “Unholy” follow-up single “If Jesus Was a Rockstar,” which had become one of the more highly-anticipated tunes in pop of the month, due to her chart success.

Sadly, it seems interest in the cut waned quickly, if it was really there at all. Despite being promoted by a major label and the fact it was co-created by some of the biggest hitmakers in the world – Ilya Salmanzadeh, Savan Kotecha, Omer Fedi, Peter Svensson, and even Max Martin are all credited on the song – it has failed to reach any important charts anywhere in the world.

Petras already has a built-in and established fan base, and her future is bright…though what exactly it looks like for her isn’t clear. It’s possible that she may end up becoming something of a one-hit wonder, with “Unholy” defining her output, or perhaps “If Jesus Was a Rockstar” just wasn’t the correct choice to keep her star rising.

She surely has more music coming, and an album is likely in the works. Her next single could go on to be massive, or she may retreat back to her status as one of the biggest and most beloved icons in the LGBTQ space, which is a lovely place in which to exist. Only time will tell what happens for Petras, but this does seem to be an important inflection point in her career’s trajectory, and it’s thrilling to see what happens next.

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!