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Sam Smith has been riding high on the Genius Top Songs chart all month with “Unholy,” their writhing, clanging, choir-inflected collaboration with Kim Petras. The song page was racking up hundreds of thousands of pageviews even before the song’s official release, and that’s a testament to Smith’s enduring popularity. A full decade after they came on the scene by guesting on Disclosure’s 2012 dance smash “Latch,” Smith remains a top-tier pop star whose lyrics warrant close reading.
In honor of “Unholy” and the album that’s slated to follow, we’ve examined the Genius data and ranked Smith’s Top 5 songs on the site as measured by pageviews. At No. 1 on the list with 7.8M views is “Too Good at Goodbyes,” the jaded ballad that served as the lead single off Smith’s 2017 sophomore album, The Thrill Of It All. Smith sings from the POV of a battle-scarred romantic who’s wary of getting hurt again. They’ve built a wall around themselves, and as Smith details in the second verse, that can give people the wrong idea.
“Too Good at Goodbyes” topped the charts in Smith’s native U.K., as did the No. 2 song on our list, “Stay With Me,” (2.1M pageviews) the second single off Smith’s debut album, 2014’s In the Lonely Hour. (It also reached No. 2 in America, serving as Smith’s stateside breakthrough.) With its minimal drum-and-piano instrumentation and gospel-inspired backing vocals, “Stay With Me” is the polar opposite of “Too Good at Goodbyes.” Instead of being callused and closed off, Smith is vulnerable and very open about needing affection. The song opens with Smith waking up next to someone and pleading with them not to hurry off.
Next up is “I’m Not the Only One,” (1.2M) the third single from In the Lonely Hour. Musically, this one has a hair more verve than “Stay With Me,” but Smith is arguably in a stickier predicament. Their partner has cheated on them and completely destroyed their trust. Still, Smith isn’t ready to say goodbye.
Coming in at No. 4 is “Pray,” (928.2K pageviews) the second single off The Thrill Of It All. Once again, Smith adopts a gospel feel, though they admit in the lyrics that they’ve renounced the religion of their youth. The nonbinary singer was raised Catholic, and a youngster, they would speak out against the church’s views on homosexuality. There’s a degree of skepticism in the chorus, as Smith considers appealing to a higher power in the midst of personal struggles and global tragedies.
Rounding out the Top 5 is Smith’s U.K.-chart-topping 2018 Calvin Harris team-up “Promises” (860.7K views). While Smith has obviously become known for emotionally devastating slow songs (see the other four songs on this list), they’re also magic over four-on-the-floor beats. On “Promises,” Smith plays a person who knows they have issues (“I’m ruined”) but refuses to let any of their messy baggage get in the way of a hook-up. It’s an unapologetic booty call infused with just a hint of pain.
With “Unholy” already close to 500K pageviews and a new album in the works, it’s very possible Sam Smith’s Top 5 songs on Genius will change over the next year. The honesty and poignancy of his lyrics will likely stay the same.