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On a sunny June Wednesday, EW is with the London native Sam Smith in New York City as he prepares for a day of promoting his debut album, In the Lonely Hour. His single ”Stay With Me” has already gone platinum Stateside, thanks in part to Smith’s arresting performance on Saturday Night Live in March. ”I’m very aware of the kind of order and the kind of rules in place with people who come from the U.K.,” he says. ”What we were doing on SNL defied all of that. No one knew who I was. It was the scariest moment of my life so far.” But the gambit paid off: Smith could be the first British male solo artist ever to debut at No. 1, meaning his mix of excruciatingly tender ballads and electro-tinged torch songs may just drown out the bubblegum pop of this summer’s pool-party playlists.
Image Credit: MATTHEW SALACUSE for EW
June 23 2014 — 12:00 AM EDT