Sia Plays Devil’s Advocate in This Is Acting

Stephanie Conlon

Typically, listening to a pop record is much like reading a novel. There is a clear single, a thoughtful love-struck ballad or two, some filler tracks, and hopefully a Top 40 hit that will plague the radio for months to come until everyone is sick of it. It follows a plot.

Sia’s newest album is called This is Acting  (AP photo)
Sia’s newest album is called This is Acting
(AP photo)

Sia’s seventh LP titled This Is Acting is pure satire and commentary on the music industry and how cookie cutter top 40 tracks are made. All but one of the songs on this record were written by the 40-year-old Australian singer/songwriter with the intention to be performed by other artists, all of which were turned down.

Passively listening, the album is almost confusing because it feels as if you are listening to a cluster of different artists all tied together by the same iconic voice that the world fell in love with when “Chandelier” was released. Sia is telling the story of the “what-ifs” of living in another performer’s creative shoes. The stand out track, “One Million Bullets” is the only song that Sia wrote with the intention of keeping for herself.

It is painfully clear where these songs belong. “Reaper,” which was both co-written and produced by Kanye West injects a hearty dose of R&B into a radio hit, which was obviously meant for Rihanna. The same can be said for a soon-to-be staple party anthem “Cheap Thrills.”   The fact that this song did not make it on Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz is almost offensive.

The opening track of the record “Bird Set Free” features a minor piano run that sounds familiar even before vocals start because it would have been perfect for Adele.

Naturally, the album is phenomenal, because it has mass appeal at every corner. There is not one dull track on this record. Sia has Top 40 hit writing down to a science, which she demonstrates flawlessly in this twelve-track ode to pop music. This being said, if you are expecting a musical revelation or the new track of your life this is the last place to check.