The Tempo: This Is Acting

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Screenshot from the official "Alive" music video on YouTube.

In Sia's music video for the album's single, "Alive", a young boy performs karate moves to the musical moments of the song, wearing Sia's signature wig for this album cycle.

On January 29th, Sia Furler, or plainly known as Sia, released her 7th studio album – titled This Is Acting. She has explained in interviews the origin of the name, saying “I’m calling it This Is Acting because they are songs I was writing for other people, so I didn’t go in thinking ‘this is something I would say’. It’s more like play-acting. It’s fun.”

The singer and songwriter, at the age of 40, is still ‘unstoppable’. She has been the subject of media attention due to her refusal to show her face on camera. The façade started with her reemergence into the music world, at the release of 1000 Forms of Fear. It was the central point of her pseudo-concept album. Now the full blonde wig has transformed to a half blonde, half black bob, with her mouth now being visible.

The album cover is actually a picture of Sia, but she has taped her nose into a different shape, and altered her neck, eyes, and arm formation through editing.
The album cover is actually a picture of Sia, but she has taped her nose into a different shape, and altered her neck, eyes, and arm formation through editing.

The opening to the piece starts with beautiful piano, reminding us immediately of Adele – and it should. It was originally written for her, as well as the second track, “Alive”. The first two songs are a brilliant beginning to the departure of her prior album. This album represents recovery, and these two songs are the war cries. Her belting is perfect for this emotional declaration of humanity. We already understand that this album will be a parting from her generally dark lyrics with pop beats to cover it, to a brighter, lighter, and hopeful feeling.

With the production, chord progressions, personal lyrics, and crooning vocals, this album is unmistakably… Sia. Despite that, it is quite entertaining to play a game of “guess the artist” for which each song was written for. From my listening, I’ve spotted some Adele, Rhianna, Katy Perry, and Shakira – but in the end, no one can pull these off but Sia. Why? She’s got one of the most raw, and finest voices of pop music today.

This Is Acting is an album that grows on you, it’s variety and hopeful mood sparks a joy and amusement in the music, rather than focusing on lyrical and conceptual themes. This album puts me at ease. It is a reference to the cycle of grief and healing. Her personal struggles were addressed in her hit single “Breathe Me”, which became popular during her struggles with depression, drug/alcohol addiction, and suicidal thoughts. When she reemerged writing her own album 1000 Forms of Fear, she was able to address this pain, and fighting struggle; now with the release of This is Acting, she is able to feel ‘Unstoppable’ and ‘Alive’, like a ‘Bird Set Free’. Sia is now able to write about subjects in ways she never could before. She addresses love in a unique, yet raw way. She sings about enjoying time with her friends, and dancing once again.

My personal favorites are ‘Reaper’, ‘Space Between’, ‘Cheap Thrills’, and ‘Alive’. The song ‘Footprints’ became an unexpected favorite, considering I generally don’t lean towards the pop genre.

The final song, ‘Space Between’, is a stunning ballad that beautifully closes the work. It is melodically stunning, as Sia’s vocals ebb and flow. It will leave all of her fans (including myself) excitedly anticipating what direction she will take her next album, and wondering what color wig she will use next time.

Alive” music video (used for feature image)

Listen to This is Acting here : spotify

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