"I'm Ready" is a song by Sam Smith and Demi Lovato, released through Capitol on 16 April 2020. Smith and Lovato co-wrote "I'm Ready" with Savan Kotecha, Peter Svensson, and the song's producer, Ilya Salmanzadeh. It reached the top 20 in Ireland, the Netherlands, Scotland, and the United Kingdom as well as the top 30 in Australia, Canada, Croatia, Lithuania, New Zealand, and Singapore. The song will appear on Smith's upcoming third studio album Love Goes (2020).
Background and release
In an interview, Smith shared that they "grew up listening to" and "singing" Lovato's music, calling her an "incredible talent" and "everything she stands for as a human being". Thus, they revealed that they had been "training" for the moment to collaborate with Lovato for a long time. Smith also said that they had already been in contact as a friend to Lovato for years, and Lovato was invited to the studio by their mutual songwriter Savan Kotecha, which is what led to the collaboration happening.
On 9 April, Smith shared a polaroid of Smith and Lovato in the studio, captioned with "S + D 4 EVA". Smith also teased the duet on social media, tweeting "YOU READY" and tagging Lovato with a GIF that displays Smith and Lovato's initials; Lovato responded with "I'M READY". On 13 April, Smith and Lovato announced the title of the duet and its release date. During an interview with Popbuzz, Smith confirmed that "I'm Ready" was being released in the promotion of their upcoming third album but might not appear on the final tracklisting.
Described by Smith as "2020 ABBA", "I'm Ready" is considered a pop  song with disco elements. The song features an "edgy" production and gospel choirs, with dark "sultry" verses and a "bass-y" chorus. Moreover, the song incorporates a fun, synth-pop flair with dynamic vocals. Lyrically, the duet is a "feel-good love song" about "having the bravery to be vulnerable and accepting of love" and strives to be an "anthemic musical declaration that both artists are ready to find love and, more importantly, to be loved by someone who appreciates them."
The music video was released on 17 April 2020. It was directed by Jora Frantzis, best known for her work on the 2019 music video for Cardi B's "Money". Smith shared in an interview with The Hot Press that queer inclusivity was the main factor when creating the setting and concept behind the music video: Smith recalls how they grew up queer and experiencing bullying in "the locker room with boys" at school, and thus being incessantly "scared of" and "triggered" by sports. Smith goes on to share that being able to have a "queer Olympics" in the music video was an "amazing" and "exciting" experience, and that it bought them joy, as they enjoyed "learning to wrestle in stilettos".
In the behind-the-scenes video released on 7 May 2020, director Jora Frantzis describes her thought process regarding the creation of the music video: she says "when I hear music that's as powerful and as big as this song is, I automatically envision motion and energy". As such, she wanted to do something that was "sports-related" but still tie it back to "what Smith represents", as Sam noted that for "the gay community, sports was always kind of a traumatizing experience in high school". She noted that "Sam thought it would be very empowering to kinda take over high school sports in the way that we did, almost like taking the power back." At the end of shooting the music video, Smith proclaimed to Lovato "I think we've actually made the gayest video of all time," to which Lovato laughed and agreed with a cheerful "Yes!"
Prior to the video's release, Smith and Lovato hopped on a video chat to reminisce about writing the song together. During this video chat, Smith and Lovato joked that the "I'm Ready" video is the "Queer Olympics" the world needs right now. "There was so much love in that place and so many beautiful people," Smith said about the video shoot, with Lovato agreeing, "Yes, beautiful people that were so talented."
The music video opens on Smith circling a man on the wrestling mat, as they sing about "waiting patiently for a beautiful lover" and vowing to "take that risk tonight" with someone new. As the instrumental approaches the bridge of the song, Smith lines up for a 100-meter sprint—they and their equally glam competitors dash off in sky-high stilettos, voluminous skirts, and impeccably applied makeup. These competitors include queer artists and drag queens Valentina, Gigi Goode, Dee TrannyBear, Alok Vaid-Menon, Shea Diamond, and Jeffrey C. Williams.
The second verse of the song is taken over by Lovato; she holds court on a tall diving board, rocking a sophisticated black suit and appearing androgynous in style and mannerisms, as a queer all-male synchronized swim team near her on the diving board dive into the pool below her. Later on, Smith dances in high heels in their wrestling suit with their competitor wrestlers dancing alongside them. The choreography was coordinated by choreographer Sean Bankhead. Lovato and Smith eventually come together for the song's climax, which takes them to a gymnast-filled medal ceremony.
The Hot Press says that the music video "sees the cast redefine sports in beautiful, artistic, unapologetically queer ways." The way in which the "wrestlers and swimmers don sparkling, glittery outfits, corsets, and sky-high stilettos", as well as the flow of the music video, in which "wrestling turns into dancing" and running "into a rainbow display", were elements that were particularly noted as impressive and empowering. Rory Gory and Shane Michael Singh from The Trevor Project applauded Smith for their dedication toward promoting and celebrating the LGBTQ community: "We actually have LGBTQ people behind the scenes, in front of the camera, creating the content themselves. That's when it feels really authentic and real," Gory said.
A lyric video was released on 21 April 2020. It features a galaxy aesthetic, with stars of a night sky as the background. The lyrics appear in bright colorful pixels, along with various shapes and images in the background, including the Mars and Venus gender symbols and hearts.
"I'm Ready" received generally positive reviews from music critics. Raisa Bruner of Time deemed "I'm Ready" a "blazing new power anthem duet" and praised the "emotional showcase" of the two vocalists, saying that both "Smith and Lovato are on their game here". She also found that the elements of the song, including "an uplifting gospel chorus and a juicy bass section", make for a "summer pop mash-up". Juddah Charles Lotter of MEAWW praised both the song and music video, saying "Sam Smith and Demi Lovato create magic in [the] Olympic-inspired beautifully infectious video". Lotter was particularly impressed by the vocal display in the last scene of the music video: "The final scene shows Lovato and Smith side-by-side atop a podium with some gymnasts performing nearby in a medal ceremony and the two belt out a rich simultaneous vocal performance with a choir providing the backing vocals". He went on to say that both Smith and Lovato "use their vocal gymnastics gorgeously with pitch-perfect singing and it almost feels like they kept fans waiting on the collab long enough just to see them burst into Olympic torch flame with excitement when they finally got the chance to hear it", as "they sound utterly amazing together".
- Songwriting - Sam Smith, Demi Lovato, Ilya, Peter Svensson, Savan Kotecha
- Vocals - Sam Smith, Demi Lovato
- Backing Vocals - Sam Smith
- Production - Ilya
- Bass Guitar - Ilya
- Drums - Ilya
- Guitar - Ilya
- Keyboards - Ilya
- Percussion - Ilya
- Programming - Ilya
- Alto Saxophone - Wojtek Goral
- Cello - David Bukovinszky
- Piano - Johan Carlsson
- Strings - Mattias Bylund
- String Arrangement - Mattias Bylund
- Choir Arrangement - Mattias Bylund
- Engineering - Mattias Bylund, John Hanes, Sam Holland
- Tenor Saxophone - Tomas Jonsson
- Trombone - Peter Noos Johansson
- Trumpet - Janne Bjerger, Magnus Johansson
- Background Vocals - Anneli Axon, Johanna S Jonasson, Anna Bylund
- Violin - Mattias Johansson
- Studio Personnel - John Hanes, Sam Holland, Serban Ghenea, Randy Merrill
- Mixing - Serban Ghenea
- Mastering - Randy Merrill