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Every Song Ranked on Sam Smith’s ‘Gloria’: Critic’s Picks

todayJanuary 27, 2023

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As the music industry evolves, so do expectations surrounding new music. With trends and listening patterns shifting at a break-neck pace, artists are expected to usher in each new project as a brand new “era,” creating a recursive loop of authenticity, followed by slight reinvention, followed by re-established authenticity.

But when Sam Smith reintroduces themselves on Gloria, the pop superstar’s long-awaited fourth studio album, it feels different. This is not a pop star merely trying to make headlines or fulfill a promise of something “new” — Gloria sounds like it’s coming from an artist who finally feels comfortable enough to take risks with their sound in the name of honesty.

For that reason, Gloria can sound a lot like whiplash. In one moment, you’re listening to a slowed-down, smooth R&B-tinged song about a selfish ex; in the next, the sonic landscape has shifted to reggae-pop, where Smith is singing frankly about sex and desire. Bouncing around from song to song with wildly different sounds, this LP refuses to be pinned down to any specific label of genre or lyrical atmosphere.


That spirit of eclecticism is not for its own sake; in creating a sound this varied, Smith is making a point. For the last decade of their career, Smith has often been perceived as the crooner-next-door: a soulful, comforting voice conveying their own heartbreak as a means of soothing their pain — and in the process, their fans’ as well.

But alongside that image has always been a sharper, more fun Smith, crafting dance-adjacent anthems of elation and anger and sex. Gloria is Smith’s proof of concept — they contain multitudes, not just the sad broken heart of the person from In the Lonely Hour.

To celebrate Gloria’s release, Billboard takes a closer look at each of the album’s 11 original tracks and ranks them (we’re not including the album’s “Hurting” or “Dorothy” interludes here — ranking two less-than-30 second tracks against the rest feels unfair). Check out our picks below:

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todayJanuary 27, 2023

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