Since her reinvention as an international hit factory, Sia Furler has come into her own as one of the great underdog-pop writers. Although the Australian has worked with Eminem, Kanye and (yes) Beck on certifiable bangers, here we’ve compiled the greatest tracks she’s written herself, ahead of forthcoming solo record ‘This is Acting’.
Nowhere is the notion of high-concept art more evident than in pop music, and Sia’s a master of the form. A perfect example is Britney’s anguished ‘Perfume’, from 2013, which puts all its eggs in one lyrical basket – a semi-literal metaphor about using perfume to mark your territory on a man – and carries that basket all the way to the bank.
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There were subtler singles on last year’s ‘1000 Forms of Fear’, but ‘Eye of the Needle’ stands out from the cookie-cutter radio playlist-fillers, threading artful lyrics about clinging onto romance into a chorus hook the size of Melbourne.
Heading up Moroder’s forthcoming record, ‘Déjà Vu’ sees the sonic architect draw up a disco blueprint which Sia capably turns to pop gold. And is that a nod to folktronica hero Patrick Wolf’s ‘The Magic Position’ in the synth hook? Surely not. But yes.
Probably her most Rihanna-ready solo single, ‘Big Girls Cry’ is nonetheless textbook Sia, digging to pop’s core principles in order to squeeze in as much vulnerability as the form allows. It makes having a good old sob sound like a revolutionary statement.
Sia got her break into the ‘500-million Youtube views’ club when Rihanna invited her to appear on 2012 album ‘Unapologetic’. No use denying this shimmery, synth-speckled ballad – written, incredibly, in just 14 minutes - which captures the awesomeness of love by suggesting it makes you feel like expensive jewellery.
Veering between skewed indie anthemry and slink-pop sleekness, this offering from 2010’s ‘We are Born’ is so ecstatically barmy it’s a wonder Matt Bellamy hasn’t tapped her up for a collab.
When ‘Breathe Me’ made its way onto Six Feet Under, soundtracking the climactic scenes in which the characters grow old and die, Sia boldly crossed the tightrope between pop and emo and never looked back. It’s the song that launched her second wind overnight, and it holds up like a dream.
This self-help ballad changed hands a few times before landing in Queen Bee’s arsenal: as Sia told the New York Times, she first sent it to Katy Perry, who missed the email, before Rihanna’s team jumped in. After they failed to pay the fee, however, Beyoncé didn’t blink. “I’m pretty hurt you never sent me this song,” Perry messaged Sia after hearing the single. “Check your email!” she replied.
Pop songs tend to capture the temptations of excess, our obsession with glitz and the ephemerality of euphoria, but not all of them realise it. Not so with ‘Chandelier’, which uses perfectly decadent imagery – “I’m gonna swing from the chandelier!” – to cleverly triangulate modern pop’s hot-buttons and unleash a banger of stupendous proportions.
‘Elastic Heart’ might be Sia’s latest hit, but it’s so clearly the result of a career fine-tuning her innumerable talents that there’s no shame giving it top billing. Instead of getting lost in the moment, her off-piste pop’s skill is to sweep you up in a tidal wave of memories, vulnerabilities and morning-after regrets, which ultimately pings her songs into your heart twice as quickly.
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