Sam Smith samples audio from the 2001 cult classic film Donnie Darko in their latest single, “To Die For,” released on Valentine’s Day.
“Releasing this song is going to be a wild one — I feel like it’s from one of the deepest parts of me,” Smith told Rolling Stone ahead of the single’s release. “I wrote this with Jimmy Napes and Stargate in L.A. during a time of self-discovery and heartbreak. This is for all the lonely hearts out there on another Valentine’s Day xx.”
The scene Smith samples is from one of Donnie Darko’s therapy sessions in the film. Darko (portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal) is discussing his loneliness, and how he’s never seen proof that he’s not alone in the world; he calls the quest of searching for proof “absurd.” “The search for God is absurd?” his therapist asks him. “It is if everyone dies alone,” he replies.
“Does that scare you?” she asks. Darko responds, “I don’t want to be alone.”
In the music video, Smith is a lonely, disembodied mannequin head in a store window display, watching solemnly as happy couples walk past them day to day. They eventually escape their solitary existence, but probably not in the way that they had hoped or intended.
“To Die For” follows a trio of single releases from Smith, including “How Do You Sleep,” the Normani collaboration “Dancing With a Stranger” and a cover of Donna Summer’s electronic dance classic, “I Feel Love.” They also covered Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” with Renée Zellweger for the biopic Judy, for which Zellweger won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Their latest album, In the Lonely Hour, was released in 2014.