The Singles Party: Sam Smith, ‘Stay With Me’

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He’s hot off a performance on Saturday Night Live and the hip music cats are totally in love with him, so The Singles Party panel decided to engage the U.K. soulster.

Nick Porcaro: That voice. Good lord, that voice. You know it when you hear it. Unrestricted by gender or genre or octave range. Immediately compelling, heartbreaking, and dare I say…timeless?

Sam Smith is something special. I was floored when I heard his sassy, sexy vocal on Disclosure’s incredible single “Latch,” and since then I’ve been eager to see where the success of that guest appearance would take him. Luckily for us I’m happy to report his latest single is nothing short of stellar.

“Stay With Me” isn’t exactly an ambitious composition but it does one thing really well. This is an anthem powered by deep desperation, rich with yearning and loneliness and uncertainty. It’s about how, even when we momentarily satiate our need for intimacy, our desire for love and affection remains unfulfilled. The lyric and music alike are terse and to the point with a deceptively simple series of rhymes that increase the universal appeal of this single. Everyone can relate to the sentiment behind “Stay With Me.”

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In the hands of a lesser vocalist this track might be album filler, but Sam shines through the sparse arrangement. Given the sheer strength and unique quality of his voice, this stripped-down sound is precisely what “Stay With Me” needs in order to hit hard. Anchored by a simple three-chord piano progression, the track effectively utilizes sweeping strings and thumping drums to drive the groove forward. It’s a sad song that nevertheless manages to inspire and uplift, and I can’t help but melt when that gospel choir comes in.

Not only is this yet another excellent single for Mr. Smith, it’s one of my favorite tracks we’ve reviewed to date. I’ll certainly be listening closely when In the Lonely Hour drops on June 17. Verdict: Add to playlist!

Kelly O’Dowd: Sam Smith is amazing. Hands down. And his voice! I’d stay with him any day or night of the week. But what I love most about this song is that it talks about a specific type of loneliness that isn’t normally addressed. He’s a man who wants company. He is aware that it’s not love, but he can’t stand to be alone with himself and his thoughts. Most songs about loneliness deal with getting that guy or gal back because he or she loves the lost one blah, blah, blah. Not Sam Smith. He takes something that we’ve all had and sings it with such soul and tenderness. It’s beautiful and amazing. Just don’t listen to it if you’re already sad, you’ll just spend the next few minutes crying. Verdict: Add to playlist

Lauren Stern: I’m really embarrassed to admit this, but I thought Sam Smith was a DJ or some sort of electronica act at first. I think this was because the buzz around him was so strong and dance music has really become a popular trend, but it was a huge surprise to find out his music was far from that. Overall, I really like “Stay With Me,” but I wasn’t really as blown away as I thought I’d be. The best way I could describe it is the way I describe how I feel about John Legend. His voice is undeniably incredible, but it doesn’t captivate me enough to listen to it more than once. Verdict: Abstain

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Lisa Pikaard: Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” is beautiful. That is the best word to describe this powerful ballad. It tells a story about needing and yearning for someone and it is emotional and simply beautiful. Sam Smith’s voice isn’t backed by a gospel choir in this song, it is supported and lifted and highlighted. The arrangement is simple and just right to raise this song to an even higher caliber.

I may not have known exactly who Sam Smith was prior to this song but I have taken note. His voice is something that has pulled me in and this song just blows my mind. His range is so broad both emotionally and vocally and, because of that, the verdict on what to do with this song is simple. I’m heading to iTunes to download it this minute. Verdict: Add to the Playlist

Jason Stives: While a very public anglophile I must admit not everything the UK music press brandishes to foreign markets merits praise or even longevity. Save for a spattering of artists in the last decade it’s sometimes easy to dismiss their cheers for the next big thing in their eyes.

But in the past two years the UK has debuted some stellar acts stateside ranging from gritty garage indie rockers Palma Violets to teen angsty folk singer Jake Bugg to the colassal dance electronic sounds of Disclosure. Now in 2014 we get soul singer Sam Smith, and yet again we are hit with another home run from across the pond. While not a charmer in appearance he has the pipes to prove that his slightly awkward charm makes him a powerful, unexpected force.

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“Stay With Me” embodies all that Don Juan romanticism in all of us regardless of status, appearance, and just overall placement. We all want to reach that point of true love and when we have it or think we have it just isn’t enough; just a sliver won’t suffice. That lack of fulfillment despite moments of pure joy and pleasure. Welcome to the fundamentals and frustration of romance. Smith’s voice sends this message home well with a tremble and quiver that is just aching for what he badly wants and his every day man exterior complete with some well quoft hair gives him a certain appeal to compliment a surreal voice filled with longing.

I only hope that this song catches on and after his heart stopping performance recently on Saturday Night Live it may just be possible. “Stay With Me” is so simplistic in structure but with a driving message that doesn’t need frills to get itself across. Verdict: Add to the Playlist

Final Verdict: It’s an overwhelmingly response of positivity. We recommend you add the newest one from Sam Smith to your playlist.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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