Smith teased the song with a brief, eight-second clip on their socials that featured the title, release date, and both artists’ initials, which conveniently happen to be “S&M.” The full song, true to its name, goes all out, placing the duo’s charms in a hard-hitting pop setting with Eastern-influenced strings and fiery ad-libs from Madonna, like “Do you know how to spell my name?/ B I T C H/ Go fuck yourself/ You heard me, bitch.”
But “Vulgar” isn’t unnecessarily filthy — rather, the artists are asserting a message of empowerment, and demanding respect. In February, Madonna introduced Smith’s performance of “Unholy” with Kim Petras at the 2023 Grammy Awards, which sparked a wave of condemnation from conservative figures. “Are you ready for some controversy?” Madonna asked the Grammys crowd. “If they call you shocking, scandalous, troublesome, problematic, provocative, or dangerous, you are definitely onto something.”
Fittingly, it was the very next day after the Grammys that Smith and Madonna went into the studio together to cut “Vulgar,” and the fight-back energy on the track is palpable. Smith co-produced the track, alongside ILYA, Cirkut, Omer Fedi, Ryan Tedder, Jimmy Napes, and Lauren D’elia. Check out the lyric video below.
Recently, Sam Smith had to stop their show in Manchester after four songs due to issues with their vocal cords. They’ll continue their tour after taking a few shows off to rest, whereas Madonna has added more dates to “The Celebration Tour,” one of which is in Tennessee to benefit trans rights. Tickets to Sam Smith’s tour are available here, while you can grab your seats to see Madonna here.