Sam Smith Sparks Outrage at the Grammys

Written by on February 16, 2023

Sam Smith and Kim Petras presented a stunning performance to their song “Unholy” at the 65th Grammy Awards on Feb. 5

The single became popular over the past year with it becoming viral on TikTok. It alludes to infidelity in a catchy and poppy way. The song won the award for Best Pop Duo Performance, and was paired with an eye-catching performance.

Smith appeared on stage wearing devil horns, a cape, and a red trident, as a way to represent the devil. Petras danced along with drag queens Violet Chachki and Gottmik who were also dressed in devil costumes. The stage was lit with red light, and fire burst from the sides of the stage. Petras and Smith created a captivating performance which was meant to be an homage to the LGBT community. However, it was criticized for promoting satanism.

Ted Cruz tweeted his reaction to the performance. 

Many other right wing figures also chimed in on their feelings about the event.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene called for American Christians to “get to work” as a response to the video.

The theory on Hollywood having connections with satanism traces back to the 1980s, when the “Satanic panic” was in full force. Today, this theory is still popular. People most likely see this theory in QAnon.

Many feel concerned over the symbolism in the performance, and have claimed that the Grammys are “satanic”. Much of this uproar is similar to the controversy surrounding Lil Nas X’s music video for the song “Montero (Call My By Your Name)”, which shows him dancing in “hell”. The video is meant for him to grapple with his feelings of homophobia, using biblical references in the lyrics.

I’m not fazed, only here to sin / If Eve ain’t in your garden, you know that you can

Smith’s performance is a continuation of queer singers reflecting on religious trauma and homophobia within their music.

Photo by Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Petras and Smith are both prominent members of the LGBT community. Smith is a nonbinary artist, and Petras is a trans-woman. Petras’s win is symbolic for the transgender community, as she is the first trans-woman to win the Best Pop Duo award at the Grammys. Petras’s acceptance award speech acknowledges this moment in the music industry.

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