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Sam Smith and Kim Petras make history as ‘Unholy’ hits No. 1 on Billboard chart

Sam Smith and Kim Petras are the first out non-binary and transgender musicians to top the Billboard Hot 100.

By Emily Maskell

Sam Smith and Kim Petras
Sam Smith and Kim Petras (Image: Instagram/@kimpetras)

Sam Smith and Kim Petras have become the first openly non-binary solo artist and the first openly transgender solo artist, respectively, to hit the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 song chart.

Their infectious track ‘Unholy’ debuted at number three, spent two weeks at number two but dethroned Steve Lacy’s ‘Bad Habit’ to number one this week (24 October).

This is Smith’s first Billboard Hot 100 number one, Billboard reported, after ‘Stay With Me’ peaked at number two in 2014, the 30-year-old shared they were “so proud of everyone involved for their bravery and guts and spirit.”

“I just really don’t want to be the last,” Petras told Billboard about being the highest-charting solo, publicly transgender artist in the history of the Hot 100.

“That same story just keeps repeating over and over for trans girls who have been making exceptional music and have been pushed under the rug while someone else takes credit from them,” the 30-year-old continued, pointing to artists like SOPHIE and Amanda Lear.

She added: “I’m just happy that Sam gave me the chance to shine here. I hope I can help break the cycle — it feels like people are finally ready for us to succeed, and that fills me with a lot of joy.”

Smith shared with the world that they are non-binary in 2019 and they called on awards shows to scrap gendered categories in favour of gender-neutral awards; the BRIT Awards listened and implemented more inclusive labels.

“I can speak on behalf of all of my queer friends and say that recognition like that, and just people talking and understanding us like that, is just the best feeling in the world,” Smith told Billboard of the BRIT’s announcement. “Because there’s nothing bad happening here, it’s all love. 

“No one’s taking anything from anyone; people are just trying to live in their own skin on this earth,” they added.

Apart from Smith, Halsey is the only other publicly out non-binary artist (Halsey uses both they/them and she/her pronouns) to have topped the Billboard chart.

In the UK, ‘Unholy’ has spent three weeks at the top of the Official UK Singles Chart after debuting at number one last month, becoming Smith’s eighth UK chart-topper.

The provocative, cabaret-style music video for the menacingly sexy track was released last month, starring Smith and Petras. Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the video features fabulously queer cameos from RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Gottmik and Violet Chachki as well as adult film star Paddy O’Brien.

As a couple’s infidelity is thrust into the spotlight, Smith and their co-stars perform hypnotising choreography from French dance collective (LA)HORDE while Petras drops onto the stage on a heart-shaped rig reminiscent of actress Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge

‘Unholy’ is the second single off of Smith’s fourth studio album Gloria that is set for release on January 27th.

Following the album announcement, Smith shared he will be touring the UK, Ireland and Europe in 2023.