The new Sam Smith video for “Promises” pays tribute to queer ball culture and features several dancers performing and explaining why they love the scene. Before hitting the stratosphere with breakup ballads, Smith started out doing vocal tracks on dance tracks like Disclosure’s “Latch.” And “Promises,” his new collaboration with Calvin Harris, is a return to form.
Directed by Emil Nava and shot in L.A., the Sam Smith video features Smith and Harris and a cadre of dancers turning, walking and death-dropping. (Model Winnie Harlow, who competed on America’s Next Top Model, also appears in the video.)
The clip starts with one voguer telling us, “It’s just like that — let go, of like … having to be somebody that I don’t want to be at that time.”
Another adds, “Finding vogue, it allowed me to express myself in a way that I couldn’t express anywhere else.”
On Twitter, Smith confessed he “never had so much fun shooting a video” and gave a shout out to Horse Meat Disco, a Sunday night gay dance party at London’s Vauxhall.
— Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) September 4, 2018
Originally an underground scene, voguing first landed in the mainstream with the documentary Paris Is Burning and Madonna’s “Vogue” video. But ball culture has made a resurgence as a new generation sitting on the outside has discovered the art form, as seen most recently in Ryan Murphy‘s acclaimed series Pose, which follows members of the fictional houses of Abundance and Evangelista.
The new Sam Smith video could also be seen as proving the pop star has finally done his gay homework. Infamously (and inaccurately) he previously declared he was the first openly gay man to win an Oscar for 2016’s “Writing on the Wall.”
More recently Smith outraged some when he declared he wasn’t a fan of Michael Jackson. Listening to “Human Nature” with Adam Lambert (recorded as an Instagram Story), he remarked, “I don’t like Michael Jackson, but this is a good song.”