The idea behind Sia’s new album is both a blessing and a curse for the Australian hit-maker. In This Is Acting, Sia comprised a track list entirely of songs meant for (and rejected by) other artists, save “One Million Bullets.” The concept of Acting is a perfect gimmick to follow the star’s previous record, the Grammy nominated 1000 Forms Of Fear, but falls short comparatively.
The album opens with “Birds Set Free,” a track originally meant for Pitch Perfect 2, rejected by Rihanna, and recorded by Adele before returning to Sia’s grasp. Basically, “Birds Set Free” is a pop music gypsy that finally found a home in the triumphant vocals it needed to survive- a la Sia. Lyrics like “I find myself in my melodies/I sing for love, I sing for me/ I’ll shout it out like a bird set free,” are sung in self affirmation in the song that sounds only right to be on a Sia album.
Tracks like “Alive” or “Unstoppable,” while worth mentioning, could have easily made their way on to the 1000 Forms tracklist without breaking glass, and that’s not what we’re looking for with this release. Part of the fun in This Is Acting comes from pairing each track with the artist it was meant for. “Move Your Body,” for example, is a Shakira reject that sounds like exactly that..and its wonderful! Everything from the beats to Sia’s accent mimics something from a Shakira album. Albeit, the track might have been more successful as a Shakira release rather than Sia release, but that’s what this album is after-all. It’s a definite treasure for pop culture enthusiasts and Sia fans alike.
Some other highlights include “Footprints,” a would’ve been Beyonce ballad, and “Sweet Design” that sounds like it could’ve pitched for Demi’s Confident or whatever J Lo has planned for 2016. The latter seems to be the furthest out of Sia’s comfort zone on the album musically, but makes for a fun display of what her vocals can do. “Cheap Thrills” and “Reaper,” both meant for Rihanna’s ANTi, aren’t “Diamonds,” but definitely deserve a listen.
“Reaper” is a song about cheating death, a powerful subject considering all we know about Sia’s back story. Her previous record, 1000 Forms Of Fear, was the singer’s first release since an attempted suicide in 2010 so lyrics like “You came to take me away, so close I came to heaven’s gate/ But no, baby, no, baby, not today,” give “Reaper” an emotional tenderness, which is exactly what This Is Acting lacks. The problem though, is that Sia has no attachment to “Reaper.” The downfall of this record, is just that. It’s impersonal.
Apologies for ruining the visage:
“I don’t care about the song,” Sia said about “Reaper” in a recent Rolling Stone interview. “I know in print that will look bad, but what I mean is I’m not emotionally attached to it. I think it’s a good, fun song, but I didn’t anticipate it being on the record.”
Overall, a good album with plenty of material for any Sia fan to love with a few forgettable tracks thrown in the mix (looking at you “House On Fire”). It’s not 1000 Forms Of Fear and doesn’t claim to be. Simply, This Is Acting is a play on the game of songwriting, which Sia Furler has mastered. Luckily, This Is Acting avoided the disaster of sounding like the recycled mess of rejects that it is and kept its form as solid record.
Check out This Is Acting on iTunes here!