„Sanctify“ is a song recorded by British synthpop band Years & Years. Written by Olly Alexander and it’s producer Kid Harpoon, it was released on 7 March 2018 by Polydor Records, as the lead single from the band’s second studio album, Palo Santo (2018).
The band first teased the song via social media on 16 February 2018, with a cryptic video featuring a grainy footage of their „King“ music video as well as ideograms, leading to speculation of an upcoming announcement. They later shared another video featuring a picture of lead singer Olly Alexander that encouraged fans to sign up to their mailing list. Their website, which was linked in the video captions, also hinted that something was „coming soon“. On 2 March 2018, the band posted a video which revealed the song’s title and release details.
According to Nylon, „Sanctify“ was inspired by Alexander’s relationship with a straight man, in which „things became chaotic at a certain point“. He explained: „There’s so much that goes on in an experience like that. On the one hand, the guy is struggling with his sexuality and feeling unable to express himself as anything other than straight while also desiring me. I’m on the other side feeling like both a sinner and saint or a devil and angel, leading this guy down a path of ’sinfulness‘ while, at the same time, helping him explore his sexuality.“ The band’s older songs „have been about [Alexander] and [his] life“, but „Sanctify“ was referred to as one of the „more sexually overt songs“. Alexander stated that he has „felt more empowered to be even more confessional in [his] writing“ and is „not shying away from certain topics anymore“. He concluded by saying: „I feel like being gay is a blessing. I wanted that to come through in the song.“
„Sanctify“ is a BDSM-referencing dance, dark pop, pop and R&B song, with early 2000s pop music influences. Alexander told Beats 1: „Then the music side of it, I wanted something that felt like it could be Britney-era ‚Slave 4 U‘ meets Timbaland or Neptunes… that’s my favorite kind of stuff to listen to.“ He added in an interview with Capital: „When we were making it, it just sounded like a really nice blend of my favourite kind of old skool RnB, but also felt kinda fresh, so it felt like the best foot forward.“
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