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Released: 2020

Features: Normani

“Dancing With A Stranger” by Sam Smith featuring Normani is a poignant exploration of heartbreak, rebounding, and using dance as a therapeutic device to grapple with emotional struggles. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a person who, fresh from a breakup, isn’t quite ready to be alone with their thoughts, and instead seeks solace in the company of a stranger on the dance floor.

The lines “I don’t want to be alone tonight” and “It’s pretty clear that I’m not over you” encapsulate the visceral longing for the familiar, a common feeling after a romantic separation. The repetition of the phrase “alone tonight” underscores the deep-seated fear of solitude, and possibly, the uncomfortable process of self-reflection that often comes with it.

When Smith sings “Can you light the fire? I need somebody who can take control”, they reveal that the narrator’s intent isn’t to find a new romantic partner. Instead, they’re seeking an escape from the tormenting memories of the past relationship. The “fire” and “control” could symbolize passion and autonomy – elements likely lacking in the emotional brevity of their past relationship.

The chorus, “Look what you made me do / I’m with somebody new / Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger”, offers an assertive declaration of the protagonist’s actions. The “stranger” becomes a symbol of the unnamed, faceless individuals one might interact with as they navigate the choppy waters of singledom.

Both Smith and Normani reveal their unique perspectives on the common theme of heartbreak, offering a layered exploration of the various ways individuals cope with emotional pain. The ebb and flow of their individual vocal deliveries balance the song’s narrative, giving weight to both their common heartache and their distinct experiences.

By the end of the song, we find them repeatedly affirming that they’re “dancing with a stranger”, establishing an intimate relationship with the unknown. It’s their way of cushioning the blow of their loss while simultaneously stepping out of their comfort zone – a symbolic dance of healing and self-discovery. Ultimately, “Dancing With A Stranger” is a melancholic yet empowering anthem about finding one’s footing amid the disorienting dance of heartbreak.

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