I rarely write fanmail, but this is definitely borderline. Showbiz is a crazy money-machine run industry, so knowing that someone, anyone has won the game without getting sucked into the vortex fills me with hope. Sia, you are an inspiration to me and to many more. You remind me to keep a part of me just for me, that you don’t have to lose your street cred just because you want to be a hit.
1. . She’s been doing it for years.
In a world where Miley Cyrus, Meghan Trainor and Adele reign, Sia is the rare modern artist who took her time to find her voice before it became one of the most famous in the world. Her early work was devoutly indie. Some People Have Real Problems was the album everyone knew well before Diamonds was the earworm no one could forget.
2. . She sold out without selling out...if that makes sense.
Sia holds onto her indie artist roots, and she even acknowledges that some of her pop hits are “cheesy;” yet they don’t feel dumbed down to please the masses. She admits that selling songs is largely about collecting publishing money, but also credits her journey into the hit machine for taking away her inhibition to write whatever she wants to, even if it’s cheese. It’s like she’s as embarrassed by pop music as the rest of the hipster world is, and yet, she can’t resist belting along in her car. And by her car, I mean her car-eer. "I still believe I'm straddling the line between art and commerce," she told Rolling Stone which is one of the most refreshing points of view I’ve ever heard from a struggling artist turned pop princess.
3. . Her videos are genius.
If not genius, at least they’re interesting. And not in the “crap on top of crap” sort of way that pop stars have opted for when they’re out of ideas. More glitter! Cover me in [fill in the blank with something wacky]! Sia’s videos are simple without being dull just like her songs are catchy without being soundbites.
4. . She fights back without announcing that she is about to fight back.
Using a tweenage avatar is one of the most genius statements against an industry that eats beautiful young female musicians for breakfast. Well played, Sia.
5. . The hits keep on coming.
"Chandelier"(Sia), "Diamonds" (Rihanna), "Pretty Hurts" (Beyonce), "My Heart Is Open" (Maroon 5), "Let Me Love You Until You Learn To Love Yourself"(NeYo), "Wild Ones" (Flo Rida), "Radioactive" (Rita Ora), "Titanium"(David Guetta). Shall I go on?
6. . She doesn't sweat the small stuff.
Sia is known not only for being a wildly prolific writer (see above) she’s freaking fast. She says "Diamonds" and "Chandelier" took her about fifteen minutes each. For anyone who’s ever sat over their keyboard or guitar all night and hoped that their blood, sweat and tears happen to land on the right notes, take heed.
7. . She isn't precious about her work.
For every hit single Sia’s penned, she’s had dozens more “no thank you’s.” She told Rolling Stone that the process of “writing for the pop machine” is like “throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it will stick." What did she do with the rejects? Why, record them herself, of course! All of the tracks on her latest album, This Is Acting, were originally written for other artists. Sia points us towards one of the greatest truths of songwriting there is: if you want to be a song writer, you actually have to write. A lot.
8. . She doesn't want to be famous.
Let’s admit it: fame is bizarre. It's always somewhat unbelievable to me when stars pretend that it makes sense to be worshipped by the masses. Not Sia. The more famous she got in her solo career, the more she shied away from the limelight, until eventually even she had to bend to her own celebrity. Her response? Paper bags and bangs. Sia hasn’t shown her face on a magazine cover or public performance since 2013. If you ask me, that beats a selfie of your lips on Instagram any ol' day.
9. . When the industry needs street cred, they look to Sia to write it.
“We need a song with soul!” “We need something real!” Let Sia write it for you. If pop music is almost empty, artists like Sia are the reason it doesn’t fall down entirely. Part of her genius is her ability to hit the soft middle necessary for a pop single to be succesful without selling out entirely. She makes it clear that her music may be for sale, but she is not. She’s about craft, not hype.