‘This is Acting’: Sia soars where others passed

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Adele, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Katy Perry. What do they all have in common, besides being four of the largest names in pop music? They have also all turned down songs that Sia wrote and has now released on her new album “This is Acting.” It is an interesting concept that Sia has used as grounds for this album, recording songs that she wrote for others, and yet it works like clockwork.

“This is Acting” is 2016’s first great pop record, and will only further boost Sia into the spotlight – which she generally likes to avoid. This album is the songstress’ follow-up to her 2014 album, “1000 Forms of Fear,” which burst her onto household name status with the hits “Elastic Heart,” “Big Girls Cry,” and the anthem of 2014, “Chandelier.” While “1000 Forms of Fear” was filled with inward lyrics showing Sia’s struggle with drug addiction and bipolar disorder, “Acting” does just the opposite. Sia has no massive attachments to the lyrics, other than the fact that she wrote them for someone else. This makes for an incredibly interesting dynamic in looking at the album. There is no deeper message to be found, just fun pop music that is perfect to blast in any setting.

“This is Acting” is filled with massive anthems, characterized by Sia’s lower range during the verses and soaring vocals during the choruses. Though any given song on the album could take off as 2016’s first massive hit, there are a few that find a way to shine even brighter than the rest. The immediate standout upon first listen was “Reaper,” which came out of a writing session for Rihanna. With Caribbean infused beats, Sia sings a song for Rihanna better than Rihanna could have done it. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on every pop station in the country bumping “Reaper” by the time summer rolls around.

Another standout on the album is “Bird Set Free,” whose long life went from originally being written for “Pitch Perfect 2,” to being scrapped, and then offered to and rejected by both Rihanna and Adele. One can only imagine what might have been if Adele took the song and used it. Perhaps it would have been the smash hit to follow up “Hello” that never came about with her new album.

Throughout all of “Acting,” it is incredibly fun trying to guess who the song was originally written for. Adding the intended recipient to the album notes of each “scrapped” song would have been the icing on the cake for this album, so that when a particular song inevitably flies up the charts, we can see who passed on a golden opportunity.

The fact that these songs are all scrapped is not the only intriguing aspect to this album. On top of that, Sia is 40 years old, which is a whole decade older than the majority of singers usually associated with pop.

She also remains semi-anonymous, hiding behind elaborate wigs and stage setups in order to not be scrutinized for every little detail by the mainstream media.

Though Sia has just released an album, it is only the beginning of phenomenal releases. With the release of new music, we can anticipate some phenomenal videos to accompany them coming out in the next year.

For all of her singles on “1000 Forms,” she made extravagant pieces of production, starring the likes of tween professional dancer Maddie Ziegler and peculiar actor Shia Laboeuf, among others, that added an extra element to the art she creates.

It will be intriguing to see how the songs on this album are interpreted for video by Sia, considering she does not have as much of a personal connection to the songs. These videos are another way in which Sia is able to keep the spotlight away from herself and on to what matters, the art she is creating.

And although it is only February, I think we have ushered in the year of Sia’s complete reign over pop music, because she has stepped the bar up in terms of creating a remarkable pop album that does not have a single flop.