I just want to talk about Sia for a little while and how fucking phenomenal this woman is as a singer and songwriter. I’ve always been drawn to female vocalists with interesting and/or powerful voices. Amy Winehouse, for example, is one of my favourite singers. She was not only a great singer but she was such a talented songwriter. I’ve always said that listening to either of her albums is the equivalent of reading her diary. Her lyrics are so personal and so heart-breaking that it’s genius and tragic at the same time.
I first heard of Sia back in 2014 when she released the single Chandelier which features Maddie Ziegler (from reality show Dance Moms) in the video. “I don’t like this video, it’s weird” was my reaction back then, and the song was so overplayed that I didn’t much care for it. Fast forward to last year and I found myself listening to Sia a lot during my time volunteering in New Zealand. I’ve been listening to her non-stop for about 3 weeks now. I find myself doing this with artists; I’ll rinse the shit out of them until I get sick of them and then I’ll move onto another. Then a year or two later I’ll think, “Oh I haven’t listened to so-and-so for a while” and so the rinsing begins again.
Sia is an Australian singer/songwriter who has been around since the mid-90s but was catapulted to stardom when she released the album 1000 Forms of Fear in 2014. 1000 Forms of Fear is her sixth studio album and features the singles Chandelier, Big Girls Cry, Elastic Heart and Fire Meet Gasoline; three of which feature Maddie Ziegler in the video. Sia has spoken openly about her battle with alcohol and drugs along with her suffering from bipolar disorder, and the songs on this album represent that. Before writing 1000 Forms… Sia had retired from performing and instead focused on songwriting. She wrote the song Titanium which ended up in the hands of David Guetta and he decided to keep Sia’s demo vocals and released the single in 2011. Titanium was a huge success and between 2011 and 2013 Sia wrote songs for artists such as Rihanna, Beyonce and Flo Rida. Sia wanted to get out of her publishing deal as an artist and so released 1000 Forms of Fear as a way of doing this. She was not obligated to tour or show her face; as she didn’t want to be famous, and so she released the album in the hopes of being a songwriter for other artists. 1000 Forms of Fear was a commercial success and so luckily for us she continued as an artist but has tried to keep a modicum of privacy and still hides her face when in the company of cameras.
I adore Sia’s album This Is Acting, which was released in 2016. All of the songs on this record, except for one I think, were written for other artists but were left off their album or rejected for whatever reason, and so Sia released them herself. She described the process as like “play-acting” and so This Is Acting was born. They’re not songs written by her about her own life, although from what I know of her personal life, which isn’t much, it could be argued that some relate to her; and yet she sings them with such emotion that you’d never know she’d written them for other artists.
I decided to have a listen to some of her earlier stuff and I would recommend her album Some People Have Real Problems which she released in 2008. If you haven’t listened to this then do it immediately. It’s such a beautifully crafted record. Watch the video below to have a listen to one of the singles from that album. Sia is so ridiculously quirky and cute that you can’t help but like her…
For me, Sia is an artist who has it all and is incredibly influential and important in a day and age where lip-synching, auto-tune and not writing your own songs seem to be rife amongst many popular artists today. Give me an artist like Sia over the likes of Beyonce any day of the week. That isn’t to say Beyonce isn’t a good performer or singer; she is, no doubt, but too many (female) artists focus on sex as a selling point, so having a singer like Sia who performs on stage in big dresses and an over-sized wig that covers most of her face is so refreshing. Not only can the woman sing exceptionally well; her voice breaking and cracking when she hits high notes is just part of what makes her so endearing and special, but singers like Sia, in my opinion, do more to empower women than any artist who wears skimpy outfits and thrusts around on stage, or spends their time swinging back and forth on cannon balls (not naming any names).
I think it’s a shame how little privacy people have when they become famous. There was a photograph I saw earlier today of Justin Bieber having lunch with a group of friends and then just off to the side there was a horde of female fans standing, waiting, hovering like vultures; just taking photos and no doubt screaming manically at him. I couldn’t do it. That kind of attention would drive me crazy. Luckily I’m never going to experience even a pinch of that in my life, but I can totally appreciate why Sia hides her face. You can Google “Sia” and you’ll immediately be presented with pictures of her bare naked face so it’s not like she’s unknown, but it means she can walk down the street without a horde of paparazzi or bonkers fans stalking her. That photo of Justin Bieber is the one and only time I’ve felt sorry for him. It’s a fucked up business to be in if you’re fortunate enough to be that successful.
A friend of mine recommended I listen to Zero 7. They are an English musical duo formed in ‘97 and Sia took lead vocals on several of their songs. I’ve only listened to a couple of tracks so far but these guys are good and are another recommendation from me to you, if you haven’t already heard of them. Listen to their album Simple Things which features the single Destiny. I listened to this particular song yesterday and realised that I’d heard it many times when I was younger but it’s just one of those songs that you hear as a kid but never pay much attention to. It’s only now that I can really appreciate it.
I could babble on about Sia’s voice and her music for hours, but I won’t; I’m going to end this here. An abrupt end I know but that’s just how I roll. As always, thank you for reading!