I wouldn't be the first person to compare Sam Smith to Adele. In fact, Sam Smith is so tired of being called Adele, he's gone on record to say as much. "It just annoys me that people can't digest two pop stars singing really personal songs who don't look like normal pop stars." I totally get that and it's why I curbed my desire to compare him to a woman whose music has been the soundtrack to every one of my breakups and those of every woman in my life since 19 came across the pond. But now that his peers have responded with such fervor — Smith absolutely cleaned up at the 2015 Grammys — the comparison feels a little different. Sam Smith kind of is the new Adele, in that he captured an entire mass of music lovers with his incredibly buttery timbre and well-written songs that tap into that emotion we all know so well: complete and total heartbreak.
Sure, there are those who probably make the Sam-Adele comparison with the idea that neither of them fit the typical standard of what a successful musician looks like, as Smith's quote seems to imply. Sure, there are those who hear emotional music and think, "It's all Adele from here." But I think some of these comparisons come from a good place, especially now that Smith is swimming in golden gramophones. Smith kind of came out of nowhere, known only to a small segment of listeners before his incredibly emotional album broke through and sang all of our weary, weepy hearts into emotional solace.
Adele's rise was pretty damn similar: though I was leaning pretty heavily on 19 (her first album), by the time 21 came out, the entire world had finally caught up with the glory that was her music. The Grammys responded by showering her in gold statues and no one could even begin to complain, because every time she opened her mouth to sing, the feelings we all collectively felt were so palpable, so undeniable, that giving those awards to any other person seemed absolutely ludicrous.
When Sam Smith continually nabbed little gold statues on the evening of February 8 and then took the stage to sing his ubiquitous but no less moving hit "Stay With Me," I had the same feeling. I'd heard this song a thousand times. The man had been on stage so often I was pretty sure they should just build him a throne up there. Every time Smith was in a category, it was obvious that everyone else would be going home empty-handed and nobody even looked disappointed or jealous. Finding fault in Smith's wins is near impossible because we have all been moved by his incredibly emotional music and his consuming voice — yes, like Adele.
So while some people have wielded that comparison to detrimental effect, it might be time for Smith to embrace it. Being the next Adele means skyrocketing to success and touching all of our hearts and anyone who means it differently can just shove off.
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