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Released: 2014

“Like I Can” by Sam Smith dives deep into the throes of an unrequited love and jealousy, laced with an undercurrent of regret and subtle desperation. Smith’s stellar vocals reach for the heartstrings as the lyrics unequivocally declare a love far more profound and authentic than what any other potential suitor can offer.

Beginning with “He could be a sinner, or a gentleman / He could be your preacher when your soul is damned,” Smith paints the picture of a lover whose love can transcend roles and situations. The loaded word “sinner” sets a tone of edgy passion, while “gentleman” and “preacher” suggest respectability and spiritual commitment, no matter how dire the circumstances. Yet, with the confident assertion, “But he’ll never love you like I can, can,” Smith emphasizes his distinct place as the supreme lover.

The lyrics “He could be a stranger, you gave a second glance / He could be a trophy of a one-night stand” depict potential rivals as fleeting and superficial. Yet Smith highlights his profound connection: “mine is the heart and the salt of the soul,” suggesting a raw, authentic bond that outshines any transient infatuation.

Smith’s feelings of unrequited love are further emphasized with “A chance encounter of circumstance / Baby, he’s a mantra, keeps your mind entranced / He could be the silence in this mayhem,” capturing the frustrating reality of lusting after a distracted lover. Yet, Smith continues to echo that nobody will love the listener “like I can.”

In the verse, “We both have demons, that we can’t stand / I love your demons, like devils can,” Smith stresses accepting the beloved’s flaws, a love so deep it even cherishes the “demons” the beloved bears. The reassurance of an “honest man” contrasts with “stop deceiving Lord,” grappling with the paradox of love’s illusion and reality.

Throughout the song, Smith reiterates the inability of anyone to love the listener as he can, embedding the phrase “They’ll never love you like I can” with an urgency that permeates the entire track, making it the undenied anthem of love yearning for reciprocation. End of the day, it is a testament to Smith’s ability to narrate the complexity and desperation of longing that’s uniquely human.

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