Sam Smith's Grammy Performance Of 'Unholy' Inspires Yet Another Satanic Panic

February 7th, 2023 - 12:09 PM EST by Adam Downer

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Sam Smith and Kim Petras took the stage at Sunday's 65th Annual Grammy Awards to put a devilish spin on their 2022 hit "Unholy," and judging from the people it appears to have triggered online, the pair's performance may have had its intended effect.

"Unholy" is a raunchy song about, well, sinning, specifically the sin of infidelity. Backed by a gothic choir and grabbing a verse from trans artist Kim Petras, Smith describes a man with a hidden proclivity for visiting strip clubs.

The song has lent itself to highly theatrical performances and on "music's biggest night," Smith and Petras gave the song an adult-Halloween flair, with Smith in a red suit and a top hat affixed with demon horns and Petras singing from a cage. Around them were backup dancers apparently doing their best take on Samara from The Ring.

As noted by many online, the concert subsequently had some conservative media figures denouncing the performance. Liz Wheeler was the first to go viral for saying of the performance, "Demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan." Ted Cruz then declared "This… is… evil."

Piers Morgan followed up with a dismissive eight-minute segment discussing the song in which one of his guests suggested a pop artist should do a song mocking Islam.

The scandalized segment of the Grammys audience was then treated to an ad for Pfizer, notable makers of one of the COVID-19 vaccines, and aghast viewers' minds began drawing connections between Smith and Petras' "Satanic" performance and general anti-vaccination conspiracies.

This is hardly the first time conservatives, particularly those in media, and others online have seemingly taken the bait on spooky scary pop music.

In the '80s, government officials successfully lobbied to get parental advisory stickers posted on albums that were deemed too adult-themed for kids, and just last year, the Super Bowl Halftime Show (notably headlined by California hip-hop artists) led conservatives to declare the NFL was a hotbed of "sexual anarchy."

As much as some music fans like to claim rock and roll is dead and music hardly shocks society anymore, it seems it's still easy to tick off "the man" if all it takes is red lighting and some devil horns to become a controversial figure.

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