Sam Smith & Kim Petras Heat Up 2023 GRAMMYs With Fiery “Unholy” Performance

Smith and Petras brought cages, devil horns and whips to the GRAMMYs stage.


Madeleine O'Connell


Posted on February 6, 2023

Share on:

Sam Smith, Kim Petras; Photo Courtesy of CBS and Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Sam Smith & his duet partner, Kim Petras, joined forces on Sunday (Feb. 5) for a performance of their hit song, “Unholy.”

Backed by a fire-lined setting, Smith opened the performance surrounded by demonized backup dancers and encompassed in a blue of red lights. As he pointed towards the main stage, Petras appeared trapped in a cage as she took over the next verse. The audience’s gaze was reverted back to Smith who fully embraced his character with a devil-horn hat.

The LGBTQ history-making duo dominated the stage with their soaring vocals and impressive harmonies throughout the remainder of the song.

The fiery appearance served as a follow-up to Smith and Petras being crowned winners for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. This win also earned Petras a standing ovation after announcing that she was honored as the very first trans woman to ever win in the category.

“I’m proud,” she told the Recording Academy after learning of her nomination. “I just feel like they’ve all kind of been overlooked a lot, and never really got what they deserved regarding their influence… It’s cool to be in the same category as those artists that I really look up to.”

In celebration of her historic feat, Petras stepped up to the mic to share a moving acceptance speech.

“Sam, I love you so much, and this song has been such an incredible, incredible journey for me, and Sam has been a supporter of mine for so long. Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award because I’m the first transgender woman to win this award,” she began. “I just want to thank all the incredible transgender legends before me who kicked these doors open for me so I could be here tonight.”

The artist also went on to thank several other members of the industry who have helped her get to this point, including her late friend, Sophie, a former GRAMMY nominee who was widely known for her collection of pop songs. 

“SOPHIE especially, my friend who passed away two years ago who told me this would happen and always believed in me. Thank you so much for your inspiration, SOPHIE. I adore you and your inspiration will always be in my music,” she added. 

“Unholy” marks Petras first No. 1, her first-ever entry on the Billboard chart, and her first platinum-certified song by the RIAA.

YouTube video

This fan-favorite was released in September and reached the top spot on the charts. This achievement also marked the artists as the first publicly non-binary and trans artists, respectively, to top the Billboard Hot 100. 

The 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards featured performances from Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, Sam Smith, Harry Styles, Chris Stapleton, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and more.

“Music’s Biggest Night” also included an all-star 50th Anniversary celebration of hip hop, which included performances by Big Boi, Busta Rhymes with Spliff Star, De La Soul, DJ Drama, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Missy Elliott, Future, GloRilla, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Mele Mel & Scorpio/Ethiopian King, Ice-T, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, The Lox, Method Man, Nelly, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, Rahiem, Rakim, RUN-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella, Scarface, Swizz Beatz, and Too $hort. LL COOL J will be on hand to introduce the segment and give a dedication to hip hop.

Several tributes also took place during the In Memoriam segment at the all-genre ceremony. Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood and Bonnie Raitt paid homage to late Fleetwood Mac member, Christine McVie, with a performance of McVie’s “Songbird.”

Maverick City Music and Quavo also remembered the late Migos rapper, Takeoff, with a special tribute performance of “Without You,” a song that Quavo wrote after his passing.

First Lady Jill Biden, Cardi B, James Corden, Billy Crystal, Viola Davis, Dwayne Johnson, Olivia Rodrigo, and Shania Twain and more were on hand to present during the ceremony.

Beyoncé led the pack with nine nominations, including the prestigious Album Of The Year (Renaissance). Following behind Beyoncé are Kendrick Lamar with eight nods, Adele and Brandi Carlile with seven nominations as well as Mary J. Blige, DJ Khaled, Harry Styles, Future, The Dream and Randy Merrill have six. For a full list of 2023 GRAMMY nominees click HERE.

Prior to the GRAMMY Awards, several winners were revealed during the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in the City Of Angels. For a full list of winner, visit

Co-hosted by GRAMMY-nominated comedian Trevor Noah, the 2023 GRAMMYs broadcasted live from Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 5 at 8/7c on CBS. The coveted awards ceremony also streamed live and on demand via Paramount+.

Share on:

Written by

More from Madeleine O'Connell

See more posts from Madeleine O'Connell