This hit song by Sam Smith and Kim Petras has taken over the world and probably your mind as well. The track is seductive, the video is creative, and the vocals are almost too catchy!
It's a completely different vibe from the usual ballads that Sam puts out, and it made for a risky yet very rewarding song release and topped the charts in the UK, Australia, Austria, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States.
What is the meaning behind the lyrics, and what parts of Sam were really on display with this song and video release? The creators have given us a bit of insight into the song, and the lyrics are easy to break down, so let's discuss it.
Sam Smith and their musical crew were working on this hit song while in Jamacia, and it wound up being an amazingly freeing experience for them.
"I've never had so much fun making a record. It was so cathartic and freeing to experiment like this and throw out the rule book," Smith said in a recent interview with the press.
The track features hip-hop percussive instrumentation with a layer of Arabic melodic flow thanks to the Phrygian dominant scale it was written in.
Most pop songs are in simple major or minor scales, so you can see where Sam was throwing out the rule book here. Smith wasn't sure it was the type of record to be a hit song that would get a ton of spins, but it felt right.
This feeling of rebelliousness oozes into the songwriting, which tells a story of an adulterous man who is cheating at a strip club with a sex worker behind his wife's back.
In an interview Sam did with Billboard Magazine, they discussed their wants to stray away from slow tracks to explore queer joy.
"I think joy for me, and for a lot of queer people, is quite a dangerous place. We’re all masters of pain, and I think it’s … courageous to step into the queer joy of it all."
Again, this ties into that feeling of rebellious energy, which is where the infidelity in the storyline gives off a sense of temptation and appeal, although it shouldn't.
Once you get a feel for the story of the husband's betrayal, the lyrics start to all come together. The first verse and the chorus is narrated by Sam's character, who actually acts as a third party to the situation and is not directly involved with the affair.
Mummy don't know daddy's getting hotAt the body shop, doing something unholy
The location is a reference to the Body Shop, the first all-nude strip club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. This part of the chorus is so prominent that people think that it's what the name of the song is.
Some people (like me) who didn't pay much attention to the lyrics at first may mistakenly think that the body shop reference is about an auto shop, but it's not!
A lucky, lucky girlShe got married to a boy like youShe'd kick you out if she ever, ever knew'Bout all the - you tell me that you do
These lyrics in the first verse from Sam's character suggest that they could be a friend or a family member of the cheating husband and is a person who is trying to snap the man out of his cheating ways.
Kim's character takes the role of the sex worker who is engaging in a sexual relationship with the married man. This part of the lyrics goes full material girl, and Petras is only concerned with what will be given and how good she looks.
Mmm, daddy, daddy, if you want it, drop the add'y (yuh)Give me love, give me Fendi, my Balenciaga daddyYou gon' need to bag it up, 'cause I'm spending on Rodeo (woo)You can watch me back it up, I'll be gone in the a.m
It's a simple and catchy flex for sure, but the rebellious and sexy energy really shines in the fact that Petras was the first openly transgender artist to receive a Grammy Award.
The key and the beat of the song really give off a sinister yet appealing vibe that powers the whole track. If you are taking the side of Sam, the narrator, it can be relatable to have to try to talk someone out of making terrible choices, although the tea is piping.
"This song needs to be listened to by anyone and everyone, and especially people who are sick of being privy to other people's secrets," Smith said in an interview with Apple Music.
It really appeals to the person that is in the shoes of the husband or likes to hear the type of drama that the husband has, where you know you're doing something wrong, but it just feels oh so right.
When the song first went viral on TikTok, people were posting risky thirst strap videos everywhere. It also gives a seductive and attractive look into the world of a sex worker who is liberated and getting whatever they want out of life.
The video dives deep into these rebellious feelings with an erotic cabaret show that looks like it's just a plain ol' den of iniquity. And that is why this song is simply and appropriately titled "Unholy".
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