Sam Smith is back with not just a new single, but another global hit. “Unholy,” which sees the Grammy and Oscar winner teaming up with rising talent Kim Petras, is wasting no time going straight to the top of charts in some of the biggest markets in the world, proving it to be an immediate smash.
Smith’s career has been dotted with a number of high-profile and incredibly successful collaborations, and their discography also includes a number of lesser-known or forgotten duets that deserve another play.
As the world wakes up and continues to stream “Unholy,” let’s take a look at Smith’s 10 best collaborations in an unranked list.
“Lay Me Down” with John Legend
Smith believed in the song “Lay Me Down” so much they released it as a single three separate times, and it managed to chart in the U.K. with each new push. The original is a solo venture, but after they turned it into a duet with John Legend, the tune went right to No. 1 in their home country. Sweet and brilliantly written, “Lay Me Down” is one of the best cuts on In The Lonely Hour, which made Smith a star.
“Dancing with a Stranger” with Normani
For Smith, “Dancing with a Stranger” was a sonic shift away from the adult-oriented pop that made them a household name. It was also notable for being a big win for Normani, who had just recently seen her girl group Fifth Harmony split up. The tune went on to become Normani’s biggest single all around the world, and it reintroduced Smith as something of an electronic pop hitmaker, as opposed to someone who came up behind the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele in terms of sound and song subject matter.
“Get Happy” with Renée Zellweger
Renée Zellweger was so committed to playing Judy Garland in the aptly-titled biopic Judy that she recorded a soundtrack album entirely in the style of the icon. The full-length features two collaborations–one with Rufus Wainwright and the other with Smith. The pair of Oscar winners (Zellweger would go on to collect a second trophy for her role in the film) duetted on “Get Happy,” breathing new life into the decades-old cut.
“I’m Ready” with Demi Lovato
When Smith and Lovato released “I’m Ready,” the music video was centered around the upcoming Olympics, making sports something that appealed to many of their LGBTQ+ listeners for perhaps the first time. Sadly, while the visuals and song may have been timely, the games were pushed back a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which makes it a bit of an odd moment in pop history to look back on (though that doesn’t affect the song itself).
“Latch” with Disclosure
Two years before “Stay With Me” catapulted Smith to fame all around the world on their own, the single “Latch” by then-rising production duo Disclosure helped introduce both acts to millions of listeners. The overproduced (on purpose) cut went to the top 10 in the U.S. years after it was initially released, but by then it had already impacted many, and both Disclosure and Smith were off to incredible starts.
“Stay With Me” with Mary J. Blige
“Stay With Me” will surely be remembered as Smith’s biggest and most meaningful hit single, as it sold millions, climbed the charts, and won them both Record and Song of the Year at the Grammys. While the tune certainly didn’t need anything to become a memorable blockbuster, there’s no harm in offering different versions for those who want to listen! Crooner Mary J. Blige’s vocals meld perfectly with Smith’s, and while this edition wasn’t a hit, it should be experienced.
“La La La” with Naughty Boy
“La La La” wasn’t just a hit in the U.K., it was an undeniable smash. The tune debuted at No. 1 in the nation, and it went on to be named one of the biggest releases of 2013. Its success once again announced to the world that a new star had arrived, and it preceded Smith’s own debut album, which went on to produce several major wins as well. Interestingly, Naughty Boy already had hits at the time, and “La La La” helped bring Smith along, but soon, the tables turned. He hasn’t released a follow-up album in almost 10 years, and Smith is now the bigger star of the two.
“Promises” with Calvin Harris
“Promises” conquered the U.K. charts in 2018, bringing both Smith and Calvin Harris–perhaps the most successful dance-pop producer in the country–back to No. 1. While he may have produced and co-written the cut, Harris didn’t hold onto it, and the title only appears as a bonus track on Smith’s Love Goes album.
“Party of One” with Brandi Carlile
Of all of Smith’s collaborations, this may be the least well-known. Carlile included the solo version of this song on her album By The Way, I Forgive You, which was a commercial and critical success. She later re-released it as a duet with Smith, and somehow the cut, which was already beautiful, became even more astonishing. While they are both members of the LGBTQ+ community, this love song still works, even if the performers aren’t actually into one another romantically.
“Unholy” with Kim Petras
Smith’s newest collaboration has also turned out to be one of their biggest right out of the gate. “Unholy,” which features trans pop singer Kim Petras, debuted at No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart, helping both artists make history in the process. The dark electro banger was snapped up by fans all around the world in no time, and while Petras had yet to land a real smash and Smith’s recent output had somewhat underperformed, this may be remembered as the cut that turned things around for both musicians.
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