sam smith

Song of the Summer? “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith feat. A$AP Rocky

“I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith feat. A$AP Rocky

Jonathan May

I’ve avoided writing about Sam Smith for a while now, even in my review of “Latch” by Disclosure. I’ve avoided the topic because I was waiting for a song like this to come along and show off his ability to mix with so many disparate musical genres and figures, blending it all into a mélange of subtle vocal perfection. This love-song-gone-wrong starts off with A$AP Rocky laying down the first verse over some very church sounding piano, which certainly isn’t a complaint, given the beauty and ascendancy to which the song rises. And then Sam Smith enters, his voice ebbing out over the piano and background rhythms and holding; his is an instrument of true staying power. His melismatic ability is evident here without sounding produced, and it’s quite lovely to hear him achieve the vision he set out to with those notes. The song is a sad acknowledgment of love gone away or wrong; the heart commits sometimes to another, as is often the case. I’m reading Madame Bovary for the first time, and this song hearkens to me the idea of her poor, sad husband. This is a quiet, but strong, anthem for people who have been given love and then its cold shoulder. I was surprised by the softness of A$AP Rocky here, which I attribute to Smith’s musical sensibilities overall. His masculinity sounds refined in this track, and Smith, by virtue of including him, also gives himself a bit more of that roguish edge in lovely, sustained lines. This is a song that reminds me of morning, of getting up and facing truths; best heard with some coffee, probably.

Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com

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Song of the Summer? Disclosure – Latch

Jonathan May

Disclosure – “Latch”
PMR Records

On my quest for the perfect summer song, I seem to have stumbled back in time, or so my radio would have me believe. Though the song came out from British dance-pop band Disclosure in 2012, it didn’t really quite make the charts on our side of the pond until it was used in So You Think You Can Dance during a routine, after which point it sky-rocketed into hourly rotation on the pop stations. The song itself is incredibly simple, built on a tale of enrapture within desire. The accompanying video reinforces the lyrical motifs by drawing pairs of lovers into constructed tableaux of lights, water, and ample second-base. We’re given two straight and one lesbian pairs, which added at least some shade of variety. However, the variety ends there.

The song has all the potential for a summer hit. It’s dance-y, easy to sing the chorus, and has a hip, sexy video. So why am I on the fence? We’re given nothing outside a world of pure desire. I understand the song has a particular focus (most do), but the exact representation of the subject matter displayed so matter-of-factly within the video eliminated the possibility of any tension. It’s definitely more of a radio song than an “experience” in any way, which is 100% fine with me. I expect little of pop music these days, and this song certainly holds more aural pull than most. The chorus (“Now I’ve got you in my space/I won’t let go of you/Got you shackled in my embrace/I’m latching on to you”) at least has some erotic edge even. Given the general ennui assigned BDSM these days (due to 50 Shades and the like), it’s nice that at least musically we are given something restrained (no pun intended) and simple that’s not vulgar. While this doesn’t reinvent the love song, the song deserves some volume this summer on a slinky night.

Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com