How Are People Still Mad About Sam Smith’s Grammys Performance?

Conservatives are accusing the singer of encouraging "devil worship"

Sam Smith performs "Unholy" with Kim Petras during the 65th Grammy Awards.
Sam Smith performs "Unholy" with Kim Petras during the 65th Grammy Awards.

The Grammys aired on Sunday night, and for the most part they were relatively tame, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives on social media from spending the past two days up in arms about Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s performance of “Unholy” during the broadcast.

Smith, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, went with a pretty literal interpretation of “Unholy” for the show, donning a red top hat with horns and performing in front of some hellish pyrotechnics that had right-wingers clutching their pearls and crowing about “Satanism” and “devil worship.”

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After conservative commentator Liz Wheeler tweeted, “Don’t fight the culture wars, they say. Meanwhile demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan. I could throw up,” Senator Ted Cruz quote-tweeted her and added, “This…is…evil.”

Of course, it should go without saying, but this is not evil. It’s extremely goofy and, frankly, boring. Smith looks like they went to a Party City and found the most generic devil costume sitting in the bargain bin. The only thing shocking about the performance is how desperate it was to match the Satanic panic Lil Nas X set off when he gave Lucifer a lap dance in his video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” in 2021.

Anyone with a brain can tell that Smith isn’t trying to convert anyone to Satanism, just like women who dress up as sexy nurses on Halloween aren’t actually out there dressing wounds and changing bedpans. It was clearly an attempt to stand out — or more specifically, to make an extremely mediocre song stand out more than it normally would — on a night full of eye-catching performances and elaborate set pieces. The fact that people are still talking about it two days later means that it worked.

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