‘Some People Have Real Problems’ – Sia.
With the welcoming of a new century begins the age of many new and different sub-cultures. One of these is (to put it politely) ‘Women who have not embraced the concept of “ageing gracefully“’. This demographic consists of women ranging from age 45 to 75 who inject botox three times daily; once with every ‘Celebrity Slim meal’, believe in the power of leopard skin, go through 30 mills of foundation with every application, have decided that platinum blonde hair is the definition of ‘so totally hot right now’, who’s ear lobes are really long and stretchy from years of wearing heavy earrings, and who fund the local spray-tan parlour. I fantasise about running up to one of these women on the street and (after pulling out her hearing aids that have been oh so ‘inconspicuously’ hidden behind chemically straightened hair) telling her that ‘THE CHICKEN FILLETS AREN’T HELPING ANY!’…
Saying this, one of the sexist and most talented female artists I know emits a rather ‘age defying’ façade. However, Sia’s swag is not fake-tanned and pumped full of plastic, but rather simple and childlike; the cover of the album ‘Some People Have Real Problems’ says it all.
Her voice is husky, breathy and smooth. Her annunciation is good fun to hear and simply unique. Her range is limitless. Her flare is funky. Her musicality is like a smooth, thick, full-cream milk mocha and her edge is sharp like a cracked mirror. Every sound slides around and throws itself from monkey-bar to monkey-bar. She is really good fun, in every sense of fun.
I love this album; I found it fantastically colourful, and it is obvious that Sia put 110% into every song. Sure, she’s had singles come from this album (‘Buttons’ and ‘Day Too Soon’), but unlike albums I’ve heard by other artists, she’s put so much effort into every song that almost any song could have been released as a single. When so much effort goes into music like this, you can tell that you’re listening to a quality artist… It’s almost a privilege.
This album demonstrates elements of jazz, dance, vocal, lounge, rock and acoustic. Sia doesn’t have one particular sound; she has a collection, and she mixes them up and combines them to whatever suits. It can be complex listening at times, but Sia manages to pull everything together and arrange it in a way that becomes smooth and groovy. Tracks like ‘Little Black Sandals’, ‘Lentil’ and ‘Day Too Soon’ are of the more gentle and placid nature, whilst other tracks such as ‘The Girl You Lost to Cocaine’, ‘Death By Chocolate’ and ‘Buttons’ are all more upbeat and ‘poppy’. Through songs like ‘Buttons’ you can clearly see how well Sia channels her absurdity and immature nature into her music. The themes of a lot of her songs are quite playful and ‘toddler-ish’; good play doh music.
Not to be derogatory at all, it is possibly an album that wouldn’t be out of place being heard in a café; it has a chilled sound that’s exhibited through songs like ‘Beautiful Calm Driving’ and ‘You Have Been Loved’. Sia can be compared to the likes of artists such as Susan Vega, Alanis Morissette and Carol King as far as uniqueness of sound, but to describe her sound by linking it with other artists; Elizabeth Fraser who worked with Massive Attack, Alison Goldfrapp of Goldfrapp, Reeta-Leena Korhola of Husky Rescue, Skye Edwards of Morcheeba and Roisin Murphy of Moloko would have to be as close as I can get to giving you a taste of Sia, yet still, I can’t quite pick a collective of vocalists to pinpoint her sound.
There were four singles released off this album; ‘The Girl You Lost to Cocaine’, ‘Soon We’ll Be Found’ and ‘Buttons’ that reached #67 on Australia’s charts in 2008; the album itself made #27 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 Chart. Despite Sia’s success in the music world, I am proud to note that she remains ‘distant and different’ enough to have not found her way into mainstream music. The teenyboppers don’t even know what they are missing out on; there’s some raw material to be discovered! I am also proud to note that she is a brutal Aussie… born and chicken fed straight out of Adelaide, South Australia. Reppin’.
Sia has managed to stay a moderately well kept secret from today’s crappybopper mainstream radio stations; not referring to Triple J of course (bring back the old school days of Motor Ace and Train). I think that she’s done particularly well to stay out of the fluorescence because she’d either sell out, or not worship the idol of selling out which may result in death from low self esteem and depression caused by loss of audience and appreciation. Her sound remains intact and ever so real… phew…
I reckon if God said to me one day “Choose anyone’s voice on the planet and you can have it”, I would most definitely choose Sia’s voice. It is automatic sex appeal… not that that is what I would use it for… huhmmm. It’s so contagious and admittedly I have spent many an hour singing loudly in the shower trying to sound like Sia; I could never quite get there so I have up. It’s my honour to give this album 4.5 STARS. Listening to her is like being tickled… sounds good and feels good.
Check out this link to see ‘The Girl You Lost To Cocaine’ by Sia.