I admire Sia enormously, as a constant breath of fresh air in the so-fake pop world.
She seems to understand that it’s all as make-believe as the Wizard in the city of Oz, and so, the angle This Is Acting gets sold on is that all the songs are actually ones written by Sia for other artists that were then rejected by them. The bold admission of the way pop hits are honed and moulded by a team rather than created by one talent is on display here at all times, but it’s also nice to see Sia get to work with her own material and play with it exactly as she had hoped.
Lyrically, if anyone except Sia were saying these things they’d get laughed out of the business. On many occasions the words seem strung together almost completely randomly out of a puzzle box. What stops them being completely silly is Sia’s voice, which can handled almost every level, genre and style it seems. At times, it does seem clear that these songs were meant for other people, as there is a fairly wide range of genres that Sia dips into. It’s not as tight a collection as her previous release, which cemented her place in the pop world of today, so we get to see her range, but at times a couple songs do feel like they were left on the scrap heap for a reason.
A fun game is to imagine which client rejected which track. Adele and Rihanna seemed easy to spot, and Beyonce definitely seemed to be hanging around there too. The rest are open to a lot of interpretation, which is part of the fun I guess. On occasion I also find it tough to listen to Sia without watching her music videos, as they seem such an intrinsic and important link to the song for me, and it makes me feel a bit like I’m only getting half of the picture.
But all in all, this album is still much better than the vast majority of pop hits out there. Its not perfect, being the nature of rejected songs, but Sia carries off the anti-pop icon in a way that shows that irony doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at the same time.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Electropop, Soul Power, Pop
1. Bird Set Free
3. One Million Bullets
4. Move Your Body
6. Cheap Thrills
8. House On Fire
10. Sweet Design
11. Broken Glass
12. Space Between