Sam Smith and Madonna Give us Something “VULGAR”

Two superstars that are no strangers to controversy, Sam Smith and Madonna, have teamed up to release what can only be described as a banger and dare I say potential bear anthem for the summer with “VULGAR”. It is a term that has been used to describe both entertainers at various points in their careers that they are reclaiming for their art and the dance floor.

Sam Smith has been blasted in the media and deemed ‘vulgar’ for their unapologetic queerness and hyper-sexualization of their body, which is not a body type favored by mainstream media, as we all know. I, personally, have loved seeing Sam step into their power and show off those gorgeous curves. Their fearlessness and confidence has most assuredly inspired me to be a bit more daring in some of my ensemble choices. It has been tough though to see the comments section on social media as people viciously attack Sam for embracing their body and sexuality, but they have survived it all with grace and an unwillingness to compromise. A true role model.

Madonna, on the other hand, has always been critiqued for being too sexy and has been deemed ‘vulgar’ from the very onset of her career. That commentary has only intensified the older the Queen of Pop has gotten. Her unwillingness to cover up and slink away quietly into the background is a slap in the face to our ageist and misogynistic society, so one would think she’s a natural choice to team up with Sam on this particular record, right?

Well, yes and no. Considering this is a rebuttal to the media and critics over Sam’s supposed ‘vulgarity’ that is mainly tied to his body size and queerness, I would be remiss if I did not point out Madonna’s own fatphobic behavior through the years. She has mentioned several times in the media her fear of ever becoming fat and in her infamous Sex book she said:

“If I see someone who’s not necessarily conventionally beautiful, I can still be attracted based on their intellect or whatever. But fat is a big problem for me. It sets off something in my head that says ‘overindulgent pig’.”

So, why the sudden change of heart from Madonna? Well, the cynic in me would be quick to say that body positivity is very of the moment and a conduit for controversy, but hopefully it’s coming from a change of perspective from Madonna.

Regardless, the legendary duo, now referred to as S&M for this project, first appeared together in February of this year when Madonna introduced the performance of “Unholy” by Sam and Kim Petras at the Grammy’s:

“Are you ready for some controversy?” Madonna asked. “If they call you shocking, scandalous, troublesome, problematic, provocative or dangerous,” she said, “You are definitely onto something.” 

The next day, with their fifth Grammy Award in hand, Sam headed into a Los Angeles studio with Madonna to record “VULGAR”.

A fearless and bold anthem,“VULGAR”honors every word of Madonna’s speech at the Grammy’s. It’s the celebratory sound of two artists conjoining in abandon, a meeting of wild minds, hooks and aesthetics, punctuated by an Eastern string break and bolstered by earth-shattering bass. It is a two-and-a-half-minute slap-back to repression and a demand for respect. Released by Capitol Records, the single was produced by ILYA for MXM Productions, Cirkut, Omer Fedi, Ryan Tedder, Jimmy Napes, Sam and Lauren D’elia, Madonna’s vocal producer and engineer.

Both stars will be touring this summer with Madonna hitting the road for her Celebration Tour in mid-July and Sam beginning the North American leg of their Gloria Tour in late July. Perhaps the stars will align for a live performance of “VULGAR”? Only time will tell!

Listen to “VULGAR” HERE


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John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.