When heard for the first time, Sam Smith’s voice doesn’t seem real. With an astute combination of soul and rhythm, Smith’s pipes reach levels not typically reserved for male artists. The English singer is only 22-years-old. His career has already exploded in success. Take it from me, a dedicated fan of underground rap with an intermittent taste for an alternative indie sound, one not often impressed by mainstream pop and R&B material, that Smith is musical talent personified.
“Stay with Me” has been an internationally transcendent hit. Thriving in the United Kingdom, United States, and elsewhere, it’s possible this tune is one fans most commonly enjoy. He’s also released “I’m Not the Only One” to similar success. Even a remix featuring ASAP Rocky for this track has been produced. What’s the theme on each song? Pain is present, but not to a depressing extent. Smith’s vulnerability isn’t afraid to be revealed. His uplifting voice saves these tracks from pure dreariness though. Smith wisely walks this line between opposing feelings.
He’s been referred to as the male Adele. This comparative counterpart blew up in 2011 with her smashing success 21, an album displaying similar sounds as the tunes Smith’s grown accustomed to pumping out. Adele is wildly regarded as the strongest female vocalist on the planet. Taylor Swift may drop catchy music. Alicia Keys might maintain vocal quality with a knack for mainstream appeal. Adele though, her voice, quite literally, hits a higher note. It crosses a higher plane. The same applies to Smith.
Is this his draw? Is the purity of his voice what makes his music enticing and addicting even to non-R&B fans? In my case, the vocal prowess of “Stay with Me” was the initial source of my opening into Smith fandom. That track came on the radio a few times, was played in the background of a television special, and it came time to give it a Google search. When seeing what Smith looked like and discovering his youthful age as a music staple, his talent hit home. He doesn’t necessarily look like a worldly beloved performer. His voice and age don’t match in the slightest.
Talent though, that’s all that matters here. Smith’s vocal talent is his ticket into the competitively cutthroat music industry. No gimmicks. No lackluster vocals compensated by masterful production value and head-banging beats. Smith definitely markets himself strongly and has impressive background music on his records, but his voice is the driving force behind any success. With music, radio, television, and other media outlets providing platforms for countless voices, we can become weighed down. With Smith, he lifts us up. Call him a popular voice with justification.