Tagged: sam smith

Vulnerable and Mature, A Counterpoint Review of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. People generally wouldn’t say MJ was a mature man. But then again, no one really knew him, did they? Just like no one knows Sam Smith. So, taking their respective singles as simply stand alone art, I see no reason that the man who built Neverland for real shouldn’t get a fair shake.

Have you ever read the lyrics to the number one single “Dirty Diana”? I feel like I have memories of watching the video from childhood, though I can’t place from when or where. I know I certainly didn’t know what the song was about until about a decade ago. Then I was shocked. Who knew he ever sang about such things?

Contrary to Smith, MJ’s masterpiece lacks introspection or self-reflection. It starts slow, builds, and then reaches a climax all the while admitting a terrific weakness of character. For my money, it is perfect art for the precise reason Tolstoy was leery of music’s power. Tolstoy once wrote, “Music transports me immediately into the condition of soul in which he who wrote the music found himself at that time.”* (Since reading that, I haven’t been able to get that concept out of my head. Good art makes the listener/viewer feel the way the creator felt. Nice. Simple.)

And just like Smith, there is something in MJ’s voice that sounds personal. These are two clearly torn artists. But unlike young Smith, not-quite-as-young Jackson didn’t feign insecurity or doubt about his station in life. He knew the score. And that was in 1988, which was a few years before Smith was born. Point being, when will we ever learn? Jackson didn’t want to do it, but did. Smith did it and now questions his decision. Me? I’m with MJ on this. At twenty-two, Smith is too old to waffle. Ignorance is not bliss. You knew what would happen. Grow up. Everyone has to.

I guess I’m just bothered because I liked the song. And I wasn’t alone in liking it. But then I saw that it wasn’t what I thought. And I don’t like being taken. Argh!

*Tolstoy, Leo. Master and Man ; The Kreutzer Sonata ; Dramas. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904. Print.


Correction to Friday’s Post

A mellow friend of mine informed me that Sam Smith is gay. The interwebs confirm this is true. So, in my last post about his song, I’ve gone back and edited three words. In the third paragraph, the word “girl” is now “guy” and “her” is now “him”, and then in the fourth paragraph “her” is now “him.” 

Please accept my apologies for this error.

Vulnerable or Immature? A Review of Sam Smith’s Hit Single “Stay With Me”

We all know the feeling we get when we find out a singer isn’t black. It’s really quite humorous that we think we can tell people’s skin tone by the sound of their voice. And Sam Smith is the newest artist to shock the masses and sell a few more records along the way. I bet most of you didn’t know that I’m black. Just kidding.

Smith’s new single “Stay With Me” has been hogging air time for at least the last month. It’s catchy. It’s all heart. Men I’ve never heard sing have sung it. And that’s because it’s edgy. A simple three verse song, “Stay With Me” is a request for a groupie to not leave in the morning. I imagine most male listeners claim to identify with the feeling because they think women find Smith’s vulnerability appealing, and yet these guys still get to maintain their man-card because they could only identify with the song because they’ve had one-night stands themselves. If I’m right, everyone is mixed up. Here’s an attempt at order.

First, as a friend of mine’s dad once told him, “Be grateful for the sex you’re getting. It’s more than you deserve.” Second, while the brutal honesty the song portends is no small feat, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a valuable confession. It only works if it’s in response to the idea that guys who have one-night stands are supposed to kick the ol’ belt-notch to the curb at first light. Right? Smith is basically winning his version of a rap battle Eminem-style. Some real-large-type arse-hole picked on Sam for calling the guy back the next day. Instead of defending his action (which would be weak) he goes one further and admits that he never wanted him to leave in the first place (which is a fatal blow in these contests it seems). Good for him. But we can’t let uncommon vulnerability distract us from the truth. His actions which trigger the song demonstrate that he is not a man. He is a boy. And boys shouldn’t be listened to.

Men–real men–do not have one night stands. They don’t. How do I know? The same reason you know. Because it’s the way it is. Smith wonders why he’s so emotional the morning after, and then advises himself to gain self-control. Another good friend of mine would tell Smith he’s emotional because “the inner man isn’t one with the outer man.” You want to stop crying over him, Sam? Too late buddy. You’re crying because you just caused the two of you pain. And pain hurts. The good thing is that the pain wasn’t lethal. You can learn from it. We can learn from it. But learning is defined as a change in behavior caused by experience. A change. And no fellas that doesn’t mean that you learned if you don’t get weepy next time.

In the end, the world could use a whole lot more and a whole lot less Sam Smiths.