Sia Furler seizes the spotlight
Sia Furler feels trapped in the delicate contradictions of pop-music stardom. The evocative voice behind David Guetta’s “Titanium”—who also happens to be the multifaceted songwriter behind Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Britney Spears’ “Perfume” and Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts”—wants her music heard, but isn’t interested in the popularity that inevitably comes with it.
Three years after her suicide attempt in 2010, the Australian songstress signed a record deal with RCA that stipulated that she wouldn’t be contractually obligated to appear in press promos and concert tours.
So, when she performed on Ellen DeGeneres and Seth Meyer’s talk shows last May to drum up interest for her sixth album, “1000 Forms of Fear”—which debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week—she found a novel way to promote it:
Sia asked Maddie Ziegler and Lena Dunham to dance as she sang the recording’s good-girl-gone-wild carrier single, “Chandelier”—first, with her back to the audience, then as she performed the song lying face-down! —And we thought Lady Gaga was loopy!
With the help of coproducer Greg Kurstin, the 38-year-old singer delivers her radio-friendliest collection to date—with cuts that are alternately soft and brassy (“Big Girls Cry,” about infidelity), emotionally vulnerable (“Eye of the Needle”), outspoken (“Free The Animal”), empowering (“Elastic Heart,” from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) and hopeful, like the lengthy “Dressed in Black”: “Life had broken my heart into pieces/ You started breaking down my walls/ And covered my heart in kisses.”
Adding edge to her catchy hooks and appealing melodies are the provocative lyrics that drive her accessible themes: She sings about passionate romance in “Fire Meet Gasoline” and “Fair Game,” heartbreak in “Straight for the Knife” and recovery in “Burn The Pages”: “We welcome the cry of the dark night sky/ Swallow me peacefully/ Follow my heart back inside.”
The 12-track repertoire’s frothiest number is also its shortest: You won’t be able to resist the funky vibe of “Hostage,” her groove-heavy collaboration with The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, which provides a welcome breather from the album’s intense musings!
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