By Kevin Rutherford
Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” one of the year’s most played (and most critically lauded), is nominated for the distinction, as many expected. However, unlike its contemporaries, there’s a little extra wording in the title: “Darkchild Version.”
What is this “Stay with Me (Darkchild Version),” and what has it done with the “Stay with Me” you know and love? Did the GRAMMYs nominate a lesser-known remix instead of the original version that captured the world’s attention in the first place?
Related: GRAMMY Nominations: The Full List
Well, yes and no. It’s true that the “Darkchild Version” of “Stay with Me” is not the original, but it’s still most likely the one with which you’re most familiar.
“Stay with Me” was initially tendered as the first single off Smith’s debut album In the Lonely Hour in April 2014. It featured production from Jimmy Napes and Steve Fitzmaurice and clocked in at two minutes and 52 seconds. Initially it saw its main release as a single in the United States and Smith’s native United Kingdom.
However, in June, the song was launched as a single worldwide—and with it came the Darkchild remix, created by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, purveyor of all kinds of massive pop hits, among them Brandy & Monica’s “The Boy is Mine,” Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” and Beyonce’s “Deja Vu.” Even the music video was updated with the new remix.
So, what’s the difference?
Mostly minimal changes. Both versions can be found online—Spotify is a particularly great tool for differentiating between the two and making sure you’re not getting a “Stay with Me (Darkchild Version” instead of the original.
At first, everything’s normal between the two; in fact, up until the end of the first chorus, they’re virtually identical. It’s on the second verse that Darkchild’s version switches it up a bit. Pay close attention to the cymbal hits on the original, especially on every eighth beat. The original features a more drawn out hit every eighth, while Darkchild’s remix is muted, prescribing to the same cymbal sound every second and fourth beat, aping what’s going on in the first verse.
Next up, check out the bridge after the second chorus. Once Smith is joined by the backing singers, hand claps are added on the off-beats. Additionally, organ replaces the original’s strings.
After the bridge, it’s just Smith and piano for the first part of the third chorus. Right before the full band comes back in on the original, the song swells with more strings and no drum fill before the chorus begins again. The “Darkchild Version” nixes the strings and adds a drum fill. As the final chorus plays out, the strings of the original are again replaced by organ.
“Stay with Me (Darkchild Version” will be up against Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Sia’s “Chandelier” for Record of the Year at the 57th GRAMMYs next year. Smith has also snagged plenty of other nominations, including for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Vocal Performance for “Stay with Me”—in this case, the original, not Darkchild’s version.