Post-hype post-mortem of Sia and her 1,000 Forms of Fear

I wrote a lot about Sia in the last month or so, and none of it really got published, so excuse the self indulgence while I mop up on my own blog.

*puts on 'magazine' voice*


The ultimate, real diva, is the one who refuses all the trappings of celebrity and fame. Sia was on the cover of Billboard magazine in a paper bag way before Shia Labeouf tried to make it a thing. And her back to the audience performances and wig motifs are brilliant, splitting into the two following categories:

She's single* handedly reviving the art of interpretive dance. Forget your weak Wuthering Heights impressions, shit got real.
The way she’s taken Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler the star of her 25 million and counting youtube video for Chandelier, the way she got Lena Dunham to wave a bit of toilet roll around, the Jimmy Kimmel LIVE face-painted thing. I liked the song and indeed original video when I first heard it, but with every new incarnation comes a new way to love it.

She’s single** handedly reviving the blonde bob wig. Like we (*cough*, I) need an excuse. Forget the fact that you don’t need to add Furler to those three letters in her name - you can spot her by the outline of A WIG. There’s a thesis there on reproduction, imitation, Warhol, Cindy Sherman and intepollation.

Sia has the most sought after toplines in pop - if you haven’t had a Sia penned song on your album, you’re simply not on the pop radar. Beyonce, Rihanna, Britney, Katy - all desperately checking their emails (or not, Perry) for the Sia bat signal. She co-wrote Sexercise too, but you can’t win them all.

With all the emphasis on her penwomanship, you can easily forget what a beguiling voice she has. It’s at it’s huskiest on album track Hostage, her poppiest throwback to her We Are Born sensibility and growly to the point of indistinguishable.

Her new album is full of debbie downer moments as you’d expect from the opening taster tracks Eye Of The Needle, but there’s plenty of covert pop moments tucked inbetween her lushly orchestrated melancholia. The seemingly endless end track Dressed in Black has some glorious Xylophone bits, and there's a whole break of them in Fair Game.

Burn The Pages is a perfect example of how she does bleak, twisting a verse (that sounds like a chorus) into a minor key and back again that defies all traditional routes. It’s sad and beautifully innovative in a way that would need a PHD in composition to explain. I only have Grade 5 Music Theory, but there's something about an unexpected tiny minor twist that grabs my insides - there's a really great, almost unnoticeable 10 second one on the Clean Bandit album too on Telephone Banking.

I should probably slam down this namedrop here - I've met Sia twice. Once was for a few minutes a coffee shop in New York, where she was playing chess with her girlfriend of the time JD Samson. Without being patronising, it was SO CUTE (so patronising). Then I went on to interview her for DIVA magazine for the release of We Are Born. It was kind of sad actually, as she basically told me that doing press and interviews and all the attention was driving her crazy and she was on so much medication and that she never wanted to do an interview ever again. I've never wanted to hug someone more during an interview than then. She was lovely, anyway.

*it's a very collaborative process, obviously.
** Jessie J and more recently Sinead O'Connor have played their parts in the Smiffy's wig revival.