Sam Smith's "full-on Satan worship" Grammys number puts conservatives in an anti-vax Satanic panic

"The Devil. Brought to you by Pfizer..."

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published February 6, 2023 5:47PM (EST)

Sam Smith performs onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Sam Smith performs onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Conservatives are clutching their pearls in horror over Sam Smith and Kim Petras' cheeky  performance at the Grammys.

During Sunday night's ceremony, the pair took center stage to perform their hit song "Unholy," which also won the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The hell-themed showcase featured several red-robed dancers, cages, whips and Smith sporting a top hat adorned with red devil horns.

Naturally, conservative critics took offense at this apparent love letter to the Prince of Darkness and took to Twitter to slam the performance. The comments ranged from interpreting the number as an actual Satanic ritual to – what else? – an attempt to advance the vaccine agenda.

"If as a Christian, you think we are reaching when we talk about the dominance and normalization of Satan worship in pop music, you need discernment," wrote Christian life coach Solomon Buchi. "Sam Smith's performance at the Grammy's last night was satanic, gory. No, it's not art; it's symbolic of who they serve."

Similarly, Human Events editor Ben Kew tweeted, "I know we on the right probably use the word satanic too often but this performance from Sam Smith is literally a tribute to Satan."

Newsman's Benny Johnson also wrote, "The Grammys have gone full-on Satan worship right on prime time TV," before sharing video of said Satan worship to his Twitter flock.

The hellish performance would've been enough to incite criticism, but then it was followed by an ad for Grammys sponsor Pfizer, which naturally set off the anti-vax right, which has perpetuated the misinformation that the COVID vaccine is the "Mark of the Beast" – you know, the new one after RFID microchips.

Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, "The Grammy's featured Sam Smith's demonic performance and was sponsored by Pfizer. And the Satanic Church now has an abortion clinic in NM that requires its patients to perform a satanic ritual before services. American Christians need to get to work."

In the same vein, Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of the right-wing conservative nonprofit organization Turning Point USA, wrote, "The Devil. Brought to you by Pfizer . . ." And Sen. Ted Cruz added that "Pfizer is taking the whole truth in advertising thing pretty literally . . ." before calling the performance "evil."

Conservative influencer Robby Starbuck also wrote, "Sam Smith's satanic performance at the Grammy's ended with a Pfizer commercial. You can't get it more on the nose than that. Pfizer and Hollywood deserve each other."

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In an interview with Variety, Petras explained the inspiration behind her Grammy performance with Smith:

"I think a lot of people, honestly, have labeled what I stand for and what Sam stands for as religiously not cool, and I personally grew up wondering about religion and wanting to be a part of it but slowly realizing it didn't want me to be a part of it," she said. "So it's a take on not being able to choose religion. And not being able to live the way that people might want you to live, because as a trans person I'm already not wanted in religion. So we were doing a take on that, and I was hellkeeper Kim."

Petras is also the first transgender woman to win a Grammy award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Anti-vax Grammys Kim Petras Marjorie Taylor Greene Pfizer Sam Smith Ted Cruz