Thursday, February 5, 2015

OT: Sia - Chandelier

So here's another off topic post where I talk about a song that got popular for a while but after being freed from the shackles of overplay, can be looked at more thoroughly.
Although please keep in mind that this post is nothing but my opinions/thoughts and observations. Take them with a grain of salt.

So before this song came out my knowledge of Sia was limited. I knew she was a indie-pop singer who had an underground following and then wrote music behind the scenes for pop stars like Rihanna and others, and then started singing herself on tracks that were popular in the mainstream media (David Guetta's Titanium for example). But I was pretty much oblivious to her work outside of that David Guetta song.

Then Sia's Chandelier crept up in the mainstream in 2014. Before I say anything else I'll say right now that I like it. The lyrics are thought provoking (as far as songs you see on the charts go), the music isn't boring and Sia sounds like she's giving her all into her vocal performance.

Describing the song itself might be a little more difficult. On the one hand you can say it's powerful, on the other hand you could argue that it's anything but.

In recent years pop music has had a focus on "club music." Songs DJs play at clubs and house parties that people dance to or try to hit on others while listening to. And at those clubs and parties, there just might be the type of party girl Sia is describing in her song.

What kind? The one who is always up for going to a party because she has no life and gets absolutely wasted every time.
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelierI'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't existLike it doesn't existI'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dryI'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
She's going to get so drunk that she's going to swing from a chandelier, she's going to live like tomorrow doesn't exist, she's going to fly like a bird, etc...

But I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyesKeep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
Only even she knows that this is all just a cover to hide her unfulfilling life.
She also knows that that high that makes her feel alive is fleeting.

Help me, I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyesKeep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonightOn for tonight
In the lyrics this party girl feels like she's holding on for dear life for "tonight." She asks for help. She's afraid to "look down" or "open her eyes."

1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
Throw 'em back, till I lose count
But she keeps drinking like "1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink" to "push it down" and so she can "feel her tears dry." I'm sure you all can infer what that means.
Sun is up, I'm a messGotta get out now, gotta run from thisHere comes the shame, here comes the shame
Then morning comes. She knows she's a wreck and that she needs to get out from either the party or her current lifestyle (up to interpretation I guess). Then her shame comes and wreaks havoc on her conscious some more.

So up until this point some of you may be wondering exactly how I can say that this girl has no life (or at least a life that's unfulfilling) and how is covering that fact up by partying.
I'm the one "for a good time call"Phone's blowin' up, they're ringin' my doorbellI feel the love, feel the love
Well at the beginning of the song this party girl proclaims that she is "the one 'for a good time call'" and how everybody is blowing up her phone and knocking at her door to invite her to these parties. When this happens she feels the love.

This is nothing more than my interpretation but personally I consider that a huge part of the song that speaks volumes.
There aren't too many details about what this woman does other than party (we're not sure if she even does anything else at that). But what's clear is that this woman feels empty inside. The only time she doesn't is when everybody is blowing up her phone and ringing her doorbell inviting her to come to various parties since they all know she's up for a good time.  At these moments she feels "love" or she feels like she's wanted or possibly like she has a reason to exist. Either way this is all it takes for her to continue partying.

So to recap, we have a woman who goes to parties a lot to hide the fact that she has no life, so she drowns her sorrows in alcohol and reaches a temporary high that gives her confidence to "swing from chandeliers." But try as she might in the back of her head she knows that she's messed up, scared and full of self-pity. However she can't bring herself to leave this cycle either since the only time she doesn't feel empty is whenever she's invited to these parties and alcohol makes her feel alive.
Or at least those were my takeaways from this song.

Laying all that out, I can't help but somewhat feel like a song where so much passion and energy was put into the vocals and the instrumentals might've been better if the subject matter was a little more heavier. I mean I like the subject matter for what it is (I guess), but after listening to this song over 100 times in a row I'm still conflicted on how I'm supposed to feel about a girl with basically no life. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her? Am I supposed to just think that she brought this all on herself and deserves it? Am I supposed to relate to her even though I, myself, don't do that much clubbing or partying? Judging from how the story doesn't seem to have an ending I guess all I can really do is observe that this woman has a problem.
Although in retrospect I guess this probably holds more meaning to the young partygoers in their late teens to late 20's and not some 20-something college kid who blogs about baseball cards.

According to this review on Vulture Hound, this song appears to have been somewhat inspired by how Sia's life was after her boyfriend was killed in a traffic accident.
Whether or not the party girl in this song had the same type of life event that created that kind of emptiness in her life isn't clear, but if that were case it'd probably get more of a reaction out of me other than me liking this but not knowing what I'm supposed to do with it.

Now as for the music video (which is directed by Sia and Daniel Askill), we see a little girl dancing in a dim setting in a leotard and wig. I'd say that that's a similar but also different interpretation of the song (or at least different from my interpretation). Like the party girl in the song exposing herself, the dancing girl is exposed. The backgrounds are bleak and boring so there's nothing to focus on but the girl and the music. Basically it doesn't use any gimmicks or tricks. It somewhat expects the viewers to sit down and pay attention throughout the whole thing. A Herculean task for us 21st century people with six second attention spans.

Anyway like I said, I really do like this song. I don't think it's the best song released in 2014 (sorry Sia, nobody can beat KONGOS) but I do think it's one of the better songs I heard that was in the top 10 iTunes sales chart. The way Sia sings the chorus with so much energy really does a nice job of aurally representing the highs when one has ingested way too much mind expanding substances. But she's smart enough to not forget the negatives. It might sound slow and like some generic drinking song to some people (BTW, going the Kendrick Lamar route and making a drinking song out of a song that's about something more serious that's flying over people's heads is genius, and a bit tragic, IMO). Anyway I like this song and I find that it deserves to be as successful as it's been.

I'd like to end this post with one more observation that's more about Sia herself. In almost all of the songs Sia's appeared on that caught on in the mainstream she doesn't make an appearance. And the same goes for this song. Heck, she even turned her back to the camera during her live performance of this song on Ellen. I'm not sure exactly why Sia's refusing to show her face considering how much of herself she's already exposing to the public via her music (actually I think I might've answered my own question there), but it wouldn't surprise me if some people only remembered her like the most people remember Michael Sembello (the guy who made Maniac). Nobody can recall their faces since they never appeared in the music videos for their notable hits and people only have an image of a female dancing in a leotard when they hear their hit songs. Although I guess people would still be able to remember that Sia is the performer as opposed to how some people probably think the artist behind Maniac is called Flashdance.

So that was one of the first really off topic posts on this blog. Thanks to all of you who tolerated my gibberish and ramblings throughout this post. If you any of you have some thoughts on this song I'd love to hear/read them.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Sources/References/Good reads ;)
*Lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics
*Vulture Hound Magazine: Sia - Chandelier (Single Review)
*Music Times: Review Sia Glistens on 'Chandelier'
*Pitchfork's Chandelier Review
*Time: Sia's "Chandelier" Is The Year's Most Sobering Party Anthem


  1. I was watching the documentary about REM and they started talking about how MTV and the mainstream misinterpreted their songs. They said when they were young it kind of pissed them off, but then they realized it should be about whatever the listener wants it to be about. Kind of feel the same way about the Chandelier song. Up to you if you want to feel sorry....or think the girl is a drunk idiot.....or think it is about 2015 Topps.

    1. Man, I wish this song would be about someone pulling such a huge hit out of Series 1 that they go crazy and hang from their chandeliers, that would be something.

      I guess I might revisit this song after some time has passed and possibly do a x-years later thing.