Experimental pop powerhouse Sia’s newest album This Is Acting consists of something you wouldn’t expect a record to consist of: rejected tracks. Sia is known to have penned countless hits for stars such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera (plus a momentous heap of other A-listers), and the twelve tracks on This Is Acting are essentially scraps that didn’t make the cut on smash albums such as Adele’s 25. But, we should be glad they didn’t. The Top 40 megastars may not have wanted Sia’s edgy crowd-pleasers, but this just means more deliciously off-beat music for us.
Although every track on This Is Acting is certainly pop perfection, the reason for why these songs got the boot becomes more lucid throughout the album. It’s certainly not an issue with their caliber, but rather because of their off-kilter-ness and slightly manic quality. They’re just a touch too weird for Beyoncé and her cohorts, which is why a certain magic is infused into these jilted tracks when in Sia’s hands. It’s interesting to see her style of voice change with tracks which were originally supposed to be lent to pop princesses.
On “Cheap Thrills,” originally written for Rihanna, Sia seems to imitate the Barbadian singer’s trademark R&B vocal technique, making her voice seem almost unrecognizable. The same goes for “Sweet Design.” It was written for Beyoncé, and it certainly shows. “Sweet Design” samples Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” which is enough to make any seasoned listener do a double take. Not only does Sia sound like a completely different person, she boasts lyrics such as “my junk, hypnotize the whole room,” and “my seat is here to give you wicked wishes.” Essentially, it is two minutes and twenty six seconds of Sia singing about her butt. And it is ridiculously catchy, even if it is a little odd when sandwiched between two poetic ballads like “Footprints” and “Broken Glass”.
Sia’s always-captivating vocals make every ballad a soaring journey, when, if they were sung by others, would simply fall flat. Never should we be so glad that Adele denied a track, for “Alive” is magnificent when exposed to Sia’s charms. The screams of “I’m alive” in the bridge of the song are perfectly complimented by her powerful and endearingly strange vocals, the cracks in her voice undoubtedly sending shivers down any spine.
All in all, we can trust Sia. Her hands are as capable as ever, with years of experience under her belt and a certain earthly wisdom about her. There is more to this woman than her enigmatic stage presence and penchant for performance art: Sia is a 21st century pioneer, and we should (perhaps selfishly) hope that her tracks continue to get rejected.