Music

17 Things You Didn't Know About Sam Smith

Your new favorite singer has secret tattoos, toilet-scrubbing skills, and loves feminism.

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1. Before he was famous he scrubbed bar toilets for a living.

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"It was only two years ago [that] I was working in a bar — I was cleaning toilets in a bar," he said to NPR, "I remind myself of that every day, at the moment, because I don't want to take anything for granted."

2. Lily Allen is his third cousin.

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We're thinking musical talent may run in the family?

3. And Daisy Lowe is his BFF.

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The 25-year-old fashion model and daughter of Gavin Rossdale is all over Smith's Instagram and is often hand-in-hand with him on red carpets, which has led to speculation that they are a couple. Smith denies the rumors, claiming they're just good friends.

4. He struggles with OCD, saying in an interview with 4Music that he has to "check taps before [he] leaves the house... in case it floods."

6. His first foray into songwriting was because of a very special hat.

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"I only really started writing when I was 16," he said in an interview with BBC, "The first song I wrote was called 'Yellow Hat,' and it was someone in my school who wore a yellow hat." How romantic!

7. The worst gig he ever played was a barn dance.

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"I had to sing on this stage on top of a haystack and I had to sing backing tracks for an hour and a half whilst everyone was pissed," he told GQ, "I was like 13, I didn't know the words: It was awful."

8. He is a Beyoncé fanatic.

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Even his fans know how obsessed he is. And, yes, he also has the Surfboard sweatshirt.

9. And a "total feminist."

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Smith cites growing up in a house of female providers (his mother was a banker and his father was a "house husband") as inspiration for being feminist.

10. He suffered from stage fright when he was just starting to perform.

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"A few years ago I had a weird relationship with performing live," he told Interview. "I didn't enjoy it as much because the nerves took over."

11. His debut album, In The Lonely Hour, is inspired by an unrequited love.

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In an interview with The FADER, Smith said, "In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn’t love me back."

12. His favorite TV show is Modern Family.

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"I just think that Cam [Eric Stonestreet] is the best thing I've ever seen in my entire life," he told GQ, saying Modern Family is the TV he never misses. Stonestreet actually surprised Smith with a personal video message at Bonnaroo.

13. He's got some special tattoos.

Gareth Cattermole / Getty

He has an ice cream cone tattoo on his left leg that he got during his first trip to Los Angeles and a tattoo of a plane which he got when he was drunk, 18 years old, and fresh-off a plane. Smith also has two secret symbols on his fingers. About those, he told MTV UK: "I’ll never tell anyone why I have them, but I love them."

14. Before his solo debut, you might have heard him featured on hits like Disclosure's "Latch" and Naughty Boy's "La La La."

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15. The first song he learned the words to was Aretha Franklin's "Say a Little Prayer."

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16. He's blues-approved by Mary J. Blige.

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"[Mary J. Blige] was saying to me that there are certain people in this world who will always sing the blues … and I'm one of those people," said Smith to Grammy.com. "I will sing happy songs, and I do sing happy songs, but the stuff that's going to move me, and going to make me close my eyes, is always the blues."

17. And, NO BIG DEAL, he wants to be the next great male diva.

"I’ve always loved big female voices like Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Etta James, and Beyoncé. There’s some amazing guy singers out there at the moment, but I want to have the presence vocally that some of the divas did," he said to T magazine. "We need a male diva, and not in personality."