After being delayed by a whole week, Sam Smith eventually dropped “Unholy,” a song with Kim Petras that has already gone viral on TikTok. The music was first leaked on the platform a month ago by the well-known pop duet in the form of a little video of them grooving out in the car. By the time the song was dropped on September 22nd, those few seconds had already received 193 million views.
The song is sensual and ominous, far different from what Smith’s fans have come to anticipate from them based on their last album (“Love Goes,” packed of melancholy piano ballads and heartbreak anthems) and their other 2022 single (“Love Me More,” about conquering feelings of self-hatred and great grief). Thus, “Unholy,” which came as a complete surprise, ushers in their “villain era,” as Smith told Entertainment Tonight. Baby, it was “time to get sexy.”
On the other hand, “Unholy” is unquestionably on target for German pop musician Kim Petras. Tracks like “XXX” and “Throat Goat,” which are on her 2022 album “Slut Pop,” are a perfect fit for this hot club era. Smith and Petra’s musical styles, with Smith’s sobering power and Petra’s femme fatale, surprisingly complement one another despite the differences in their respective genres.
Lyrically, “Unholy” describes a husband who frequents “The Body Shop,” also known as the infamous L.A. strip club, who commits adultery. Everyone else is “whisperin’ about the places that you’ve been / And how you don’t know how to keep your business clean,” while “Mummy” is the only one who is unaware of his indiscretions. The lyrics “Mummy don’t know daddy’s getting hot” and “She’d kick you out if she ever, ever knew / ‘Bout all the shit you tell me that you do” seem to imply that one of the husband’s children is actually the one singing about the affair. The sensual narrative Smith constructs is derailed by this point of view, but it also adds more dynamic storytelling to the piece. There might be more cynicism present than one might imagine.
The composition of the song, which features hard bass drums, a strong beat, and ethereal background singers that seem like pipe organs, perfectly accentuates these menacing undertones. This creepy cathedral effect provides the track such a hefty and full-bodied sound that the listener is mesmerized and compelled to hit repeat when combined with a minor Middle Eastern chord pattern. It’s not surprise that “Unholy” managed to become a TikTok sensation before it was even published with such a hauntingly captivating production.