You might not have heard of Sia before, but you’ve certainly heard her work. She sang the hooks on Flo Rida‘s “Wild Ones”, David Guetta‘s “Titanium”, and Eminem‘s “Beautiful Pain”. Her track, “Breathe Me”, was featured in the heartbreaking final montage during the series finale of Six Feet Under, that people still talk about. She’s written songs for Rihanna (“Diamonds”), Britney Spears (“Perfume”), Ne-Yo (“Let Me Love You”), Celine Dion (“Loved Me Back To Life”), Katy Perry (“Double Rainbow”), Beyonce (“Pretty Hurts”), Shakira (“Chasing Shadows”), Kylie Minogue (“Kiss Me Once”), and Jennifer Lopez (“Expertease”). So basically every single female pop singer wants a piece of her.
That’s what makes Sia’s new album (which is actually her 6th) such an interesting case. She has a stunning voice that deserves to be heard, but she’s molded the sound of so many female pop stars that she ironically sounds like everyone else on her own album. She doesn’t make enough of a pointed effort to stand out from the crowd. She sounds spectacular on her first single, “Chandelier”, but it also sounds like a Rihanna track. As does “Big Girls Cry”, but there’s a corniness to the track that I don’t think Riri would ever go for.
“Eye Of The Needle” is something that Britney or Katy would tackle. “Cellophane” features soaring vocals that Celine would gladly belt, but 1000 Forms Of Fear isn’t all retreads of material Sia has previously given to other artists.
“Burn The Pages” nicely combines a hip hop beat with a little touch of reggae and Sia shines on the bombastic chorus. “Hostage” has a great California rock sound to it, while “Fair Game” and “Free The Animal” bring the quirkiness that the majority of the album is lacking. “Fire Meet Gasoline” is the definition of a passionate love song and Sia nails it. She also smartly includes her track “Elastic Heart” with The Weeknd and Diplo, which was featured on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack last year. It’s an incredible track that made my list of The Top 50 Songs of 2013, and it’s the best thing on 1000 Forms Of Fear.
Sia is an insanely talented songwriter and a great singer. The problem with sharing your skills with other artists is that your influence becomes so widespread that when you make your own music, you sound like a copycat. How ironic. Sia has moments on 1000 Forms Of Fear where she shows her own unique artistry, but there’s several tracks that sound like rejects she couldn’t sell on the pop music market.