In some ways, Sam Smith made their initial splash by way of covers. In 2014, there was their infamous cover of “How Will I Know,” and the artist has kept up the practice throughout their career. (Heard the Judy soundtrack lately?) Now, the singer has released their version of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”
Originally recorded in 1977, the track is light on words but, by all accounts, changed pop music. Though it was more of a disco track—that’s where Summer and her collaborators Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellote were known—it went on to influence post-punk and new wave groups, in addition to setting the way for techno, house, and trance music. The track notably uses Summer’s voice as one of many instruments. And now, in its place comes Smith’s.
The track comes at what seems a time of change for Smith. Their song “How Do You Sleep” and accompanying music video contains a confidence and assuredness about them that hasn’t always been present. And Smith dances in it — quite well, if we might add. This came as quite a surprise to their fanbase, as they reportedly did not feel comfortable dancing just a year before in the video for “Promises.”
Months after “How Do You Sleep,” the artist revealed they would use they/them pronouns, and later posted that they were working on their third album — between the two, they were spotted twerking on a bridge in Brooklyn. Maybe this “I Feel Love” cover signals a shift for Smith as it did for broader pop culture. Will we look back on this moment of the crooner's career and view it as a turning point? Sam Smith, before and after 2019.