22-year-old British crooner Sam Smith’s critically lauded début album ‘In The Lonely Hour‘ is already the year’s fastest selling début effort in the UK, selling over 101,000 units this week to arrive at the top of the Official UK Top 40 Albums Chart.
With three # 1 hits in the UK under his belt even before his début album arrived, the BRIT Award winner is keen to make a splash in the US, and with the buzz created around the release of ‘In The Lonely Hour‘ here on the 17th of June – Smith seems to be on lock for an Ed Sheeran-esque reception on the Billboard Charts.
With his emotional Rodney Jerkins-penned ballad ‘Stay With Me‘ already a # 1 single in the UK and rising steadily on the Billboard Hot 100 (it’s at # 31 this week), Sam pulls off a major coup that is bound to make waves across the Atlantic – by recruiting the Queen of Hip Hop/Soul, Miss Mary J Blige herself – to duet on a new version of the smash hit.
It’s basically a scientifically proven fact that Mary J Blige can do no wrong – and with Mary on board – look forward to ‘Stay With Me‘ crossing over to multiple formats on radio and surging up the Hot 100 very soon indeed!
Mary brings about her signature punch of unadulterated and refined soul to an already soulful ballad – and the result is absolutely stunning! With Sam’s vocals delivering a surprisingly elegant vibe, and Mary being, well, Mary (she owns the song’s second verse like it was created with her legendary pipes in mind) – this one’s easily one of the most powerful ballads I’ve come across this year.
And as per usual, when Mary comes back, she comes back harder than ever! Blige was already heard on UK outfit Disclosure’s remix of ‘F For You‘ earlier this year, and then on Mariah’s reworked version of ‘It’s A Wrap‘ for her under-performing 14th studio release ‘Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse‘. Following which Mary unveiled the powerful single ‘Suitcase‘ this week, previewing her new album – the entire soundtrack for the film ‘Think Like A Man Too‘, for which she’s unveiled 14 new songs.
Clearly, Miss Blige knows how to arrive in style, and blurring generic lines seems to be a trend she depends on. One might remember her genre-bending collaborations with artists like Elton John, George Michael and Eric Clapton for her stunning 1999 album ‘Mary‘ – initially scoffed at by the masses and fans – and eventually a career highlight and critical and commercial smash.
Perhaps Miss Carey, the Elusive Chanteuse, should have taken a page out of Mary’s promotional campaign to save the disastrous first week sales her album is scheduled to see this week?
In a statement, Sam gushed about his iconic duet partner –
‘Working with Mary J. Blige is one of the biggest highlights of my career so far. I remember holding her album in my hands in the car when I was a young boy. To meet your idols is a magical thing, but to work with them is truly a dream come true.‘
The admiration was mutual, as Mary stated –
‘I’m so honored to have had the chance to work with Sam Smith. Sam’s true soulful voice… is the first of this kind I have heard since Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson and all the great soulful male voices from the ‘80s. I’m completely blown away by his talent, soul and the sincerity.‘
Check out Sam and Mary breaking our hearts in the new version of ‘Stay With Me‘ right here :