Sia's hit single Chandelier, and the album it came from, 1000 Forms of Fear, have been nominated for four awards in the 2015 Grammys: Best Pop Solo Performance, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Music Video.
The astoundingly beautiful video clip for Chandelier, featuring star of reality TV show Dance Moms, Maddy Ziegler, has amassed over 360 million views on Youtube; I think that I may have contributed upwards of 50 views to that number myself and I'd still happily watch it another 50 times. While the video clip is remarkable, Ziegler's dancing is just an accessory to how tremendous this song is. With Chandelier, Sia has delivered uncomfortable, real themes inside an epic pop hit.
Despite her guarded public persona and somewhat unconventional (read: sings-facing-corners-on-the-Ellen-show) approach to live performance, Sia has been quite forthright in recent years about her battle with alcoholism, and her painkiller addiction. In a 2013 Billboard interview, Sia explained, "I got seriously addicted to Vicodin and Oxycodone, and I was always a drinker but I didn't know that I was an alcoholic. I was really unhappy being an artist and I was getting sicker and sicker".
Chandelier deals with excessive drinking and alcoholism in a frank and intimate way, and dealing with something so realistically serious is rare in a pop hit.
While I initially wasn't particularly sold on Chandelier, due to its (very) mainstream pop approach to production (an acoustic Sia is a good Sia in my books), what really got me were the lyrics. Perhaps because I can – and I'm sure most women can to some extent – relate to the feelings Sia sings about: wanting to feel loved by men, suffocating with social anxieties, guarding your feelings, and drinking to make everything okay.
"I'm the one for a 'good time call'
Phone's blowing up, ringin' my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love"
While it certainly speaks about Sia's personal battles with alcohol, the track also taps into a drinking culture that is widespread among women, but rarely gets discussed in popular culture. The "party girls" as Sia describes them are those women who use drinking for a good time, but also a way to demand attention from men. For some girls this "party" never ends – it's a vicious cycle of escape and guilt, escape and guilt.The video for Chandelier reflects these themes by using Zeigler to explore the underdeveloped woman; to show the manic struggling child that exists within "party girls". That's what makes it so poignant.
Chandelier peaked a number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100. What makes this astounding is the fact that all of the other songs that appear on the Hot 100 that discuss drinking, discuss it in a positive way: it's all about doing shots of Patron and getting wasted with your boys/girls in da club.
In Chandelier, Sia is not only discussing an important issue, but turning the pre-conceived paradigms of pop on their head, too, like: "yes, you can write a song that is meaningful, and real, and sad, and popular all at the same time".
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