Editors’ Notes “This album is how I healed myself,” Sam Smith tells Apple Music. “And it sums up what I went through so perfectly.” Perhaps unsurprising for an artist who has made songs about love and loss their trademark, the singer is referring to heartbreak, which they document in granular detail on their third album Love Goes. There’s relatable post-split hedonism ("Dance [’Til You Love Someone Else]"), the crushing low of hearing your ex has moved on (“Another One”), and the slow journey towards self-acceptance (“Love Goes”). But if you’re expecting Smith to only explore such subjects via balladry: don’t. This is an album full of life-affirming pop, as well as disco, acoustic guitars, and cinematic strings. This is, too, an album that the singer made us wait for. Originally titled To Die For and slated for release in early 2020, it was delayed—then reworked—to become Love Goes, as Smith took stock during 2020’s global lockdown. “When everything stopped, it made me realize the album wasn’t finished, in a weird way,” they say. “And that the title felt really inappropriate. There was talk of me not releasing anything at all and just going back to the drawing board. But the last two years for me as a writer and a singer were so beautiful and freeing. And I wanted to share that with people.” The finished product, says Smith, is the record they are most proud of so far—and the album on which they feel the most free. “I felt at one point that I was going to be trapped onstage wearing a suit and singing ballads for the rest of my life,” they say. “When I look back at this album, it reminds me of the courage it took. To this day, there’s a music industry of people that wants me to do a certain thing, to abide by the rules. The risks that I took and the stress that it caused for me to truly be myself and express myself in a queer way was really difficult. I’m proud of myself for doing that.” Read on as Smith candidly walks us through Love Goes.

Young
“‘Young’ is really sad. I wrote it with [British producer and songwriter] Steve Mac, and the lyrics were a commentary on fame and the position I’m in. I became well-known when I was 21. After In the Lonely Hour, there was this constant feeling of wanting to be normal and do normal things, and feeling like I can't because of the pressure on me. All I wanted to do was smoke a joint, have a drink, go out, kiss loads of boys and have one-night stands—just be young. And I felt like I had that right taken away from me because when I do it, people are watching and judging me. I wanted to start the album with this song because it was a declaration. But it was also saying, ’This isn't going to be an album of only uptempo pop. I'm still the person who was writing those sad love songs.’”

Diamonds
“When I wrote ‘Diamonds’—in 2019 in London—I was in the studio and I was pretending to be a really rich woman whose husband had left her and taken all her things. She’s just in this wedding dress in the middle of a huge mansion. Think Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek. This wasn’t even going to be on the album, but I just kept returning to it in quarantine. The moment I knew this song was something was when I played it to my mum and she freaked out. I call it a sexy exorcism.”

Another One
“My favorite song I’ve ever done. The day I wrote it in LA, I had that moment we’ve all been through: hearing through the grapevine that someone you've been with has met someone else. I was so sad. We were just dancing and drinking, and it was such a healing moment. We gave the song to Guy [Lawrence] from Disclosure, who made the ending really trance-y. It just captures the emotion that I was feeling that day perfectly.”

My Oasis (feat. Burna Boy)
“I can’t believe Burna Boy said yes to this—I’m still in shock about it, to be honest. I wrote this song during lockdown and sent it to him, because I heard him on it immediately. It’s more about sex, finding someone that you're enjoying and finding sex during a dry period. When I wrote it, it was really organic. It was the lockdown mood I was in that day. Being single in lockdown? It's tough!”

So Serious
“The lyrics in this song are some of the deepest on this album. It’s talking about my mental health and my depression. About how you think everything's okay and then suddenly you're crying in the street and asking yourself, ‘Why am I so serious? Why am I so dark? Why do I get so down?’ This song is saying, ‘I'm beating myself up. Is anyone else beating themselves up?’ Because what you need when you're sad is you need to know that other people are in it with you. I wrote this song thinking that one day me and my fans can all sing that together and sing about being miserable in a really playful way. It's a cute little pop song.”

Dance (’Til You Love Someone Else)
“This is like ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ part two. If on ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ I'm sexy, heartbroken, and dancing with a stranger feeling sad, on this one I'm going out and I need to find someone to heal that feeling. I need to mask the heartbreak immediately with someone else. It's more aggressive, darker, and more desperate. There’s angst to this song and it’s a bit more hedonistic.”

For the Lover That I Lost
“This could be musical theater, to be quite honest. But I thought after ‘Dance (’Til You Love Someone Else),’ which is so dramatic, I wanted to shift the album. It would still be dramatic, but in a ballad way. [Norwegian LA-based production team] Stargate and I wrote this, and we gave it to Céline Dion, who had it on her 2019 album Courage. But just to try it, I went into the studio and sang it again. It’s like it's not even my song and more like I’m covering Céline's song. But it’s my ode to her, because she has been a huge part of the last few years for me. The day I went through my breakup, I went for a long walk in a forest and I just went into the middle of it, where no one could see me, and listened to ‘It's All Coming Back to Me Now.’ I just cried my eyes out. So I had to have a nod to Céline on this album.”

Breaking Hearts
“This is a light song and a really sad song. We wrote it slow and then it became bouncier. But I didn't want this to reach the stars. I didn't want it to go anywhere. It’s me being a bitch and saying, ‘Fuck you.’ It’s going through an angry moment of heartbreak.”

Forgive Myself
“It doesn't get sadder on the record than this song. This was the freshest one after my breakup. Two people can't collide into one, they have to grow alongside each other. ‘Forgive Myself’ was the beginning of me understanding that and saying, ‘Okay, for me to feel better, I'm going to have to forgive myself for all the things I’ve done in that relationship, and for all the things that I've ever done in relationships that were bad. And I need to work on myself to feel better.’”

Love Goes (feat. Labrinth)
“When Labrinth and I were talking about this song, it was about the journey of love and the journey of heartbreak. In my head—and he probably won’t be happy with me saying this—Labrinth is the boyfriend or the ex. He’s saying, ‘Look, we both know you're fucked up. That's why this is isn't working.’ And I’m replying, ‘No, you're fucked up. That's why this isn't working.’ The ending is big, and when the beat comes in, you can dance to it. It's almost like coming home to yourself. If there was one musical snippet that I could take to describe the last three years, it would just be that piece of music at the end. Because I felt free.”

Kids Again
“This song is completely different to everything else on the album. ‘Kids Again’ is the moment when you sit and look back at everything. I made the record and I was ready to move on to album four, and was doing just that. But it's also my piece to the relationship. It's saying, ‘I still miss you sometimes, but we were kids.’ And it's the other side of ‘Young.’ It was like a bookend for me. This song is also starting to lean into a more stripped-back, soulful musicality that I want to get into on the next record. I want to step away a little bit from electronic music and get back to some rootsy queer soul. I like to keep people on their toes.”

Dancing With a Stranger (with Normani)
“I wrote this on tour and was just playing around. I was genuinely dancing with strangers, and I wrote about this one guy I met who was just such a lovely man. It was the first time after ‘Promises’ that I got into the studio and thought, ‘I can write some pop songs now and have a little bit of fun with this.’ Vocally, too, it was so nice just singing with ease and not belting. The Normani featuring happened so beautifully. The day I wrote this song, she was downstairs having a meeting. I was like, ‘She would smash this.’ So she came upstairs and listened to it and she cut it there and then. It was really special. I had no idea it would do what it's done. It's been one of my biggest-ever songs.”

How Do You Sleep?
“We wanted to nod towards George Michael in a 2019 way (because it was 2019 when we wrote it). And it was just so fun. But I remember the day after I wrote this, I played it to my sister and she hated it! It put me off it a little bit. And then I lived with it for a bit and then we all just started to fall in love with it.”

To Die For
“There’s a street in LA called Abbot Kinney, which is very bougie. I got lavender ice cream there one Sunday and was walking around. Everyone around me was so happy, but I was not feeling good. Sometimes, you just get fed up with being single. It's such a nice feeling to be in love and to go through life having a partner by your side. And I thought that we captured that in a song. I will always love this one.”

I'm Ready (with Demi Lovato)
“This song is nuts. I don't even know what it is, and I'm not sure if I love it or I hate it. Either way, it’s an ode to a trashy queer club. I grew up in the countryside and then came to London. The only places I could go to be around people who were like-minded were these really awful gay bars. They play awful music. It's loud, it's intense. Your feet are sticking to the floor. There's loads of confused people there. Sometimes angry people, sometimes highly sexual people. Lots of drugs. I started to have this real connection to the pop songs that would play in these places, which I find beautiful now. A lot of my peers and people around me would say that music is awful. But I find it uplifting. I feel like I captured that in some way in ‘I’m Ready.’ I wanted to almost make a song that would make people squirm a bit.”

Fire on Fire
“This song was written for [the 2018 BBC adaptation of] Watership Down. And I wrote it when I was very much in love. It's probably one of the only love songs I've written. But it's very dramatic. Again, I think I was trying to be Céline Dion. It was about intense passion—about two people who are fire and trying to make it work, which is a dangerous game. It was so fun to make, stepping into that musical theater side which is always going to be in me. One day I want to be in a dress in the Royal Albert Hall singing it with a huge orchestra.”

Promises
“I was called a crooner for the first six years of my career. But then, after The Thrill of It All, I got in the studio with Calvin Harris and Jessie Reyez. Jessie poured us both a glass of whiskey and we just started dancing around. Normally it would be like, ‘Sit down, let's write a song. Let's get into it.’ But this was like, ‘I don't have to take myself that seriously in the studio. This can be a fun space.’ So it was the catalyst to how I wrote this record, which was ‘Let's go in the studio and let's have a laugh. Let's shoot for the stars. The rule book's out the window now. Let's just enjoy ourselves.’”

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