Almost a year after its initial announcement, Sia's new album, This Is Acting , has finally arrived. As the "Chandelier" hit-maker explained to NME in a February 2015 interview, This Is Acting is comprised of songs that were written for other artists, but were eventually rejected. So, in essence, Sia's "acting" when she performs these tunes, adopting different perspectives and personas throughout the project's tracklist. The 40-year-old Australian singer began penning material for other musicians in the mid-'00s and, as it turns out, she's pretty good at it! To date, Sia has written hits for stars like Rihanna ("Diamonds"), Beyoncé ("Pretty Hurts"), Ne-Yo ("Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself"), and David Guetta ("Titanium").
For me, This Is Acting lacks the emotional punch of Sia's Grammy-nominated 1000 Forms of Fear LP (which isn't exactly surprising when you consider she revealed she doesn't feel "emotionally attached" to all of the songs during a December 2015 interview with Rolling Stone). However, if you approach the album as a fun and interesting glimpse into the world of pop songwriting instead of a proper Sia release, I think you're much more likely to enjoy it. There are definitely stand-out tracks that will make you scratch your head and wonder, "Why did [other artist] pass on this? It's great!" But, there are a few significant missteps, as well.
Check out my ranking of Sia's This Is Acting songs (from least favorite to most favorite) below.
#12. "Space Between"
Nearly five minutes of tortured wailing? No thanks. (And I like Sia's tortured wailing more than most people's!)
#11. "One Million Bullets"
"One Million Bullets" is one of the few songs on This Is Acting Sia didn't offer to someone else. She told Rolling Stone she liked it too much after writing it to give it away. Unfortunately, the song just hasn't "clicked" with me yet.
#10. "Bird Set Free"
Sia wrote "Bird Set Free" for Pitch Perfect 2 , but the producers ended up picking another song she wrote called "Flashlight," instead. I just can't get into it for some reason.
I'm actually glad Adele didn't end up using "Alive" for 25; I don't think it would've fit her voice.
#8. "Sweet Design"
I have no idea what Sia is singing about in "Sweet Design" (mush-mouth Queen!), but it's probably This Is Acting's most interesting tune in terms of production, which I appreciate.
I wasn't too fond of "Reaper" at first, but it's grown on me quite a bit since it premiered. (Rihanna said "no" to this one, too.)
Sia is, like, really, really good at creating inspirational pump-up anthems (Guetta's "Titanium," Kelly Clarkson's "Invincible," Lea Michele's "Cannonball," etc.). "Unstoppable" doesn't break the mold, but it's still tremendously enjoyable.
#5. "House On Fire"
Sia co-wrote "House On Fire" with fun.'s Jack Antonoff, who also co-wrote Rachel Platten's latest single, "Stand By You." Perhaps this explains why the two songs sound so similar to me? Anyway, I dig it!
Sia wrote "Footprints" for... wait for it... Beyoncé! The whole "there's only two footprints in the sand 'cause I carried you babyyy" thing is ridiculously cheesy, yes — but I just can't resist the song's delightful production!
#3. "Cheap Thrills"
Apparently, Sia sent "Cheap Thrills" to Rihanna, but she didn't record it. I may never forgive her?
#2. "Move Your Body"
I love how big, bold, and loud the "Move Your Body" chorus is! (It's definitely teetering on the edge of "noisy," but it never quite falls over.) Shakira was silly to pass it up.
#1. "Broken Glass"
"Broken Glass" is a gorgeous and powerful song. Also, it has a dramatic key change... I live for dramatic key changes.
This Is Acting is available on iTunes and Spotify now.