It’s safe to say British singer/songwriter Sam Smith officially “made it” in 2012 when his duet with house duo Disclosure — “Latch” — charted on the UK Singles Chart. But he’s become somewhat of a household name in America only recently, when “Latch” was re-released to American radio earlier this year.
His latest duet with Naughty Boys — “La La La” — began burning up American radio just last month. It shot to the top of the British charts and amassed more than 270 million views on YouTube. You can barely listen to American radio today without hearing it at least once an hour.
This weekend, the self-described (yet humble) “male diva” will make his American television debut on Saturday Night Live. Someday, he hopes to join the ranks of bona fide male divas George Michael and Elton John. He’d be flattered to be considered a sex symbol when the time comes.
Is America ready for Sam Smith?
The 21-year-old sat down with the New York Times this week to discuss his recent success in America:
New York Times: That Disclosure track “Latch,” which you were featured on, absolutely exploded last year. How did you get involved with it?
Sam Smith: Nothing I’ve done, however popular, has affected people as much as “Latch” has. The songwriting and production on that track are just second to none. Me, Disclosure and writer Jimmy Napes all met at a stage when we were all really hungry for something. I was working in a bar, Jimmy was writing for years and years, and Disclosure was looking for the first single for their album. I think you can hear it in my voice. I did that vocal on my lunch break from the bar. That song is one of my proudest moments.
NYT: Your music combines a lot of styles. When you were growing up, which artists made an impression on you?
SS: I’ve always loved big female voices like Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Etta James and Beyoncé. There’s some amazing guy singers out there at the moment, but I want to have the presence vocally that some of the divas did. We need a male diva, and not in personality. I miss those George Michael and Elton John types, those people who would float in and out of genres, because that’s what I like to do with my music – be genreless. I want it to be about my voice and what I’m saying.
Check out Sam’s latest single, “Money On My Mind“, ahead of his Saturday performance on SNL:
And below, Sam’s crossover hits “Latch” and “La La La”: