Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Oh boy, Sam Smith is a iDonnie Darko/i kid
Photo: Tolga Akmen (Getty Images), Screenshot: Donnie Darko

Today in “celebrities are just like us” news, Grammy-winning songwriter Sam Smith is apparently a Donnie Darko kid. Like each and every one of us, Smith has, through a thick cloud of smoke, unpacked the film’s metaphysical implications, recited the Smurf-fucking monologue, and muttered “destruction is a form of creation” after a particularly nasty bong rip. They also, presumably, felt a touch of shame once, as a college student, they watched Primer and realized Donnie Darko is sorta undercooked and tonally sloppy, but then a few years later came around to embracing it again after accepting that the demon rabbit truly is badass, Swayze is amazing, and the movie’s batshit ambition outweighs its faults.

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See, Smith samples the movie in their new single, “To Die For,” a piano-forward ballad they wrote for “all the lonely hearts out there on another Valentine’s Day.” The sample comes from one of Donnie’s therapy sessions, in which Jake Gyllenhaal’s little weirdo reveals he’s scared of being alone. (Alas, as the old lady later tells him, “Every living creature on Earth dies alone.”)

“Releasing this song is going to be a wild one—I feel like it’s from one of the deepest parts of me,” Smith told Rolling Stone of the song. “I wrote this with Jimmy Napes and Stargate in L.A. during a time of self-discovery and heartbreak.”

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The song’s music video, which you can watch below, finds Smith reimagined as a disembodied mannequin head watching all the happy couples walk by outside. In the end, they’re freed from their prison, though not really in a good way, by a hooded figure we’re going to just assume is Donnie Darko.

“To Die For” follows singles like “How Do You Sleep,” “Dancing With A Stranger,” and their cover of Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” (for the Oscar-winning Judy, natch). Smith’s last album was 2014's The Lonely Hour.

In a new interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Smith discussed details of their upcoming album. “[W]ith my gender and everything, I’ve—I feel like my whole life, I’ve felt like I’m not—it’s not enough just to be a guy, because I feel like I’m both,” they said. “And I get to play around now, and be who I want to be in this music.” Smith goes on to describe the music as “very much upbeat” and “wild” and “free.”

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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