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Sam Smith: Unholy

I hear them whispering 'bout the places that you've been

And how you don't know how to keep your business clean


Mummy don’t know daddy’s getting hot at the body shop

Doing something unholy

He’s sat back while she’s dropping it, she be popping it, yeah

She put it down slowly

Oh, he left his kids at home

So, he can get that

Mummy don’t know daddy’s getting hot at the body shop, doing something unholy



People active on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram probably must have heard of the song ‘Unholy’ by Sam Smith. Within a week of Sam Smith uploading a small snippet of the song with the above mentioned lyrics, the video containing the song on TikTok played over 35 million views in just a couple of weeks. The song started trending on TikTok and Instagram, followed by numerous influencers, creators, and bloggers who jumped onto the trend. While many fans were excited to hear the song's entirety, others were not so happy about the premise on which the song was based. The song has a darker undertone which many people may ignore due to the almost celebratory-like chorus prevalent throughout the song. In the first two lines


“I hear them whispering 'bout the places that you've been

And how you don't know how to keep your business clean”


Sam Smith is seen talking to the man who cheated on his wife. He addresses the situation by telling him that he is lucky to have such a wonderful wife like that, yet, he chooses to come to the ‘body shop,’ i.e., strip club. The song’s dark undertones and the use of certain words in the song, such as ‘unholy’ implies that these actions are morally wrong. This brings a divine perspective into play as the audience also silently hopes that the cheater is caught.


The song may seem unproblematic; however, it is essential to note that it almost seems as if the cheater’s actions are being glorified towards the end of the song.


He always call me 'cause I never cause no drama

And when you want it, baby, I know I got you covered

And when you need it, baby, just jump under the covers


Previously, Sam Smith mentioned how the man leaves behind his “kids” to spend more time at the “body shop.” After the main chorus, the German singer, Kim Petras, further lures the man in by stating that she will always remain on his back and call whenever he “needs it.” At this point, it becomes unclear whether the song condemns the cheater's actions or glorifies the exchange of ‘services’ at the ‘body shop.’ This dilemma in the song did not sit well with many of Sam Smith’s songs as they stated that it brought back painful memories of when they were cheated on by their significant other.


Secondly, this song became very popular on social media platforms that are used by millions of individuals that fall under the age bracket of 13-19, which can be classified into impressionable years. Songs like ‘Unholy’ play a huge role in contributing to the identity development of many individuals who frequently use social media. Moreover, when individuals are constantly exposed to such content, their expectations regarding relationships are similarly formed. Lastly, the song's lyrics imply the normalization of infidelity among the youth. This is coupled with how the song states that the man left the kids at home with his wife while he went out to seek pleasure in places outside the house. In this sense, the actions of the man and the woman magnify the supposed role of the woman. On the other hand, the man is not held accountable for his actions inside the vicinity of his house or even outside the house. This song is seen to be problematic in this sense as it reinstates the gender stereotypes within society that further promote sexism, discrimination, and infidelity within society.


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Hi, thank you for your input! In reference to the part where you stated that it's time that artists start acknowledging their problematic lyrics and stop putting out problematic music, there are a few examples within the music industry that followed in similar footsteps. One such recent example was Lizzo adding an ableist slur to her song. After the song was released, there was a severe backlash that immediately made her change the lyrics of her song. In another instance, Taylor Swift had the following lyrics in her song: "So go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy/That's fine, I'll tell mine you're gay." After releasing the song, she was also met with harsh criticism from the queer…

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In my opinion, the normalization of adultery and infidelity has led to a severe decline in people's moral compass. I wonder about the effects of these lyrics on die-hard fans and how they perceive them. Moreover, I sometimes wonder if it is necessary to add these lyrics to get some extra attention through the controversies it creates. I think that the fans should call out their favorite artists and demand justification for promoting such behavior

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I think you've highlighted an interesting theme on how artist try to cash controversial topics and this formula is not exactly a new one we see that time and again in our own context as well with Khalil ul Rehman's work. Morever, this idea of morality and promoting certain values, I believe needs a revamp where I think it is important to distinguish fact from fiction and given the nature of our world it can be increasingly difficult to do such a thing but regardless of that it is pivotal that we are able to distinguish it.

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Most people think that listening to songs, watching movies or reading books that promote a certain type of demeanor does not affect them because apparently it is just for entertainment. However, like food, what we consume off of social media or through entertainment, alters our thinking unconsciously, and heavily affects our perspective to see the world. Songs like these plant ideas in our head that we are shy to even address in our minds. Although I understand that we cannot entirely blame the media for promoting a certain behavior among people but it cannot be denied that it plays a huge role. No wonder we see an increased amount of drug abuse among youngsters who have rappers as their idol…

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Hi, thank you for your input! I completely agree with the points that you have put forth in your comment. I want to elaborate on the part where you mentioned that such songs distort listeners' perceptions regarding serious ills such as cheating within society. While adults may be able to understand the lyrics of the song and enjoy listening to the song without actually subconsciously incorporating the negative ideas put forth in the songs into their own lives; teenagers who are usually very susceptible to the sort of media that they consume may subconsciously form ideas that are in line with the normalization of ills such as cheating. This eventually leads to a whole generation of individuals basing their opinion…

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I agree with you, most artists and songs nowadays casually glorify cheating. Sam Smith usually never includes such lyrics in his music, however, the way that he tells this story seems to be encouraging the person's cheating and that is very toxic. Another song that glorified cheating was John Legend's 'She Don't Have To Know', one of its lyrics said:


"Girl I know your doing the same thing too

But I wont tell your man the things we do oh no

Cause he don't have to know"


This is extremely toxic and promotes infidelity as you mentioned before. People that listen to these songs frequently tend to not make cheating a big deal and end up reinforcing the same concepts.…

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