Sia acts out songs she wrote for other people on new record
As most of us might already know, Australian pop star Sia wrote quite a few hits for other artists, like ‘Diamonds’ for Rihanna and ‘Titanium’ for David Guetta (which she was featured on as well in the end). As not all of the tunes she writes for others, end up on their albums in the end, she decided to collect the best of those ‘rejects’ on an album herself. As she sees it as a form of acting out the stories of others she called the project This Is Acting. A Bit of Pop Music offers you a track by track review!
01. Bird Set Free
The album opens with ‘Bird Set Free’, the second promo single released, intended for the one and only Adele and her 25 album. Although it is a solid pop tune with a powerful chorus, I think Adele was right to decide not to include this on her own record. The sound seems to fit Sia better anyway! She belts out the chorus like no one else would.
‘Alive’ was the first official single of this project and it was written by Adele. Of course this one was intended for 25 as well. As a Sia single it sounded like it wanted to top ‘Chandelier’, but that didn’t quite work out. Still it is a whirlwind of a pop song with larger than life vocals. She is the only one who can oversing like her vocals are about to break and still sound gorgeous.
03. One Million Bullets
‘One Million Bullets’ was the third promotional single of the album and is original in the sense that this was the only song she did not write with another artist in mind. It sounds like a typical Sia tune (which counts for most of the album though) and the message about being willing to take a million bullets for someone, is beautiful. Not the most instant track, but once you gave it a few spins, it is actually lovely.
04. Move Your Body
This is definitely the most uptempo track of the lot. The song has quite the EDM vibe with an explosive chorus. The hyperactive production is definitely in your face with loud beats and drums. The post chorus contains of a very infectious ‘whoah oh oh oh’ section. I can see this become a hit, so it would be smart move to release this as the next single. Definitely one of the best tracks of the record!
Another self empowerment mid tempo anthem by Sia? Oh hell, why not! By the time the chorus kicks in for the first time, you get the feeling you have heard this all before. In fact you probably have, but the “I’m unstoppable today” parts are just too catchy to ignore. The production towards the last chorus is sublime and you end up liking another of those ‘I am strong now, you can’t hold me down anymore’ songs. I don’t blame you.
06. Cheap Thrills
Judging by the sound of this song it is not surprising Sia pitched this for Rihanna’s new album. Lyrically “I don’t need no dollar bills to have fun tonight” would sound a bit strange from the woman who just released a track called ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ though. To be honest, Sia doesn’t convince on this either. She did the party girl thing way better on ‘Chandelier’. Although the uptempo vibe with the shouty parts is a welcome change of pace, both the melody and lyrics simply aren’t strong enough.
Sia even worked with Kanye West on this record and together they created ‘Reaper’, which was offered to Rihanna. It is a laidback tune with a beautiful chorus. The “no baby not today” parts stick and it could actually work out well as a single. If radio gets behind this it would be able to slowly but steadily conquer the world. Somethimes a subtle, but detailed production works best, even with Sia’s vocal style.
08. House On Fire
‘House On Fire’ is one of the signature Sia mid tempo anthems on this album and although it is a nice tune to fill up this record, it definitely is not one of the best things she has ever written. The track is built around the smart “baby I’m a house on fire and I wanna keep burning” hook, which although it sticks, might come across a bit cringy to some as well. I haven’t decided on that part yet, but it is not one of the highlights of this album either way.
And another typical Sia power pop tune. One might have expected a bit more variety on an album that contains tracks written for different artists. This song was intended for Beyoncé’s self titled success. Good decision ‘Footprints’ didn’t make it one their as it would have been the weakest link. As a Sia track, it is alright, but quite faceless and filler material.
10. Sweetest Design
‘Sweetest Design’ is probably the most unusual tune on the album. The short song swings, but the chorus is a bit of a let down. The verses however do remind me of Amerie’s ‘One Thing’ and that is never a bad thing. In context of This Is Acting it sticks out a bit and not necessarily in a positive manner. In terms of diversity, this tune deserves its place, but I won’t play it often.
11. Broken Glass
Now this is Sia at the top of her game! Give us that soaring chorus we love! From the first seconds the exciting production lures you in and it keeps building up towards the last chorus, where not one, but two key changes make my pop heart beat faster. We get some distorted ad libs as a bonus and all you want to do is hit the replay button. I have no idea who this was intended for, but I am glad Sia kept this one for her own record!
12. Space Between
This is the typical quiet and stripped down ballad to close the album off with (Target buyers still have two tracks to go though). Naturally we get a lot of vocal acrobatics, but even Sia can take that part a little too far. For starters, it is no reason to stop articulating. The melody on this one isn’t strong enough to make it memorable, but in terms of atmosphere, it is a beautiful tone to end on.
13. Fist Fighting A Sandstorm
The first of the Target bonus tracks is called ‘Fist Fighting A Sandstorm’ and as the chorus is actually one of the strongest on the record, we will forgive her the clunky title. This actually deserved a place on the standard edition, as it stands out way more than some of tracks that made it.
14. Summer Rain
With ‘Summer Rain’ Sia brings us another excellent chorus with a strong melody and an uplifting vibe. This woman has a great ear for a good pop hook and keeps producing them in bucket loads. A worthy ending to the Target edition as well!
So to conclude, This Is Acting is a more than decent pop album with a lot of strong tunes, which could have done with a bit more diversity in terms of style to stay interesting. That is something you would expect from a concept album like this. It still brought us more than a handful of powerful pop choruses to sing along to!
Must listen: Move Your Body, Broken Glass, Alive, Reaper, Unstoppable