Album Review: Sia – ‘This Is Acting’
It’s been a while since we’ve had a pop star like Sia Furler. In fact, calling her a pop star at all really does a disservice to her artistry. She’s so much more than a pop star. She’s a performance artist, a songwriter, a vocalist, a visionary, and a bonafied hitmaker.
Over the past five years, Sia has made a name for herself as one of the most in demand songwriters in the industry. If you wanted a hit, you would turn to Sia. If you wanted an empowering anthem that pulled at your fan’s heartstrings, you turned to Sia. There wasn’t an artist that wouldn’t work with her or take the songs that she’s become infamous for penning…or so we thought.
Turns out, not every Sia song shopped around to the world’s top pop stars is used. In fact, they’re either given to other artists or just scrapped completely and left for dead. And then, a genius idea was born. Why should Sia just leave some of these songs high and dry to never be heard by the public? What if she were the one to deliver these songs that were written for someone in mind or specifically for someone?
Enter ‘This Is Acting’, a collection of discarded songs that were meant for the likes of Adele, Rihanna, and Shakira that finds Sia attempting to pull them off as her own.
So, was she able to pull it off? Did Sia put on her best Rihanna or Katy Perry and made it believable? Eh. As far as a concept album pushed as Sia “acting” as other pop stars, it didn’t seem like much of a stretch for her.
A handful of songs are typical Sia songs that we’ve heard time and again from her. Meant for Adele, ‘Bird Set Free’ and ‘Alive’ are the empowerment anthems that the Aussie songwriter delivers almost daily. Even the rumored Demi Lovato track, ‘Unstoppable’, has too much of Sia’s DNA in it to see another artist own the song. Elsewhere on the record, a select number of songs feel just ok. Love songs ‘Footprints’, ‘Broken Glass’. and ‘House On Fire’ fall a bit flat and were right to be passed on by singers like Beyonce.
So if some of the songs are “too Sia” or just not enough to really make an impact, are there even any songs worth exploring on ‘This Is Acting’? Yes – in fact, Sia nails the whole “acting as another pop artist” performance quite well when she’s placed inside a new sound that people have never heard her sing on.
Hands down, the most un-Sia song has to be the ‘Thong Song’ sampling ‘Sweetest Design’. Seemingly written for Jennifer Lopez, Sia crosses into urban pop territory as she brags about her ass on this silly, irreverent missed opportunity. Pure gold.
Close behind ‘Sweetest Design’, Sia effective channels Shakira to a tee on the dance floor cut ‘Move Your Body’ and keeps the party going on the album’s standout track ‘Cheap Thrills’. Even though ‘Reaper’ blurs the line between typical Sia and Rihanna, the electro pop banger’s darker undertones proves to be one of the more thrilling moments of the record.
In some ways, should Sia have kept some of these songs locked away in her vault? Yes. Could she have dug deeper and really “acted” in a way that we’ve never seen her before? Yes. If anything, the biggest take away from ‘This Is Acting’ should be how foolish some of these pop stars were to reject half of these songs. Call us crazy, but we feel like a few of the artists who were supposed to be attached to some of the better songs on this record won’t be declining Sia’s offers anytime soon.