Artist Spotlight: Sia

Hello again. It’s been a bit, hasn’t it? (As usual.) Looking over my past posts, I didn’t realize that I hadn’t done an Artist Spotlight for a while…in fact, the last spotlight post I made was back in October, during Anniversary Week, with the candlestick…ahem, I mean, about the astoundingly talented Laura Marling. The time is ripe for the first Artist Spotlight in 2012, so here it is, by way of Australia…

Sia!

Sia (whose full name is Sia Furler) is definitely a special kind of artist. She started off her career doing mostly singer-songwriter-oriented music, but has since dipped her toes in pop and dance music as well. And her voice…wow. It’s such an expressive, unique, singular instrument. I know it’s a bit of a cliche to say “you’ve never heard anything like it,” but really, with Sia it just might be true.

I first came in contact with her music in 2008, around the time her third studio album, “Some People Have Real Problems,” came out. I’m not sure exactly how I discovered that particular album, but I took a few listens to it and now here we are. I also have a few cuts from her previous studio album, “Colour The Small One,” on my iPod. The first, “Breathe Me,” may sound familiar, as it was used in the series finale of “Six Feet Under,” and has also popped up in commercials here and there. The second, “Don’t Bring Me Down,” is a hauntingly fragile song backed by lush strings. Notice how Sia’s voice sounds in these songs…it’s a bit of a different vocal approach than the one she would use in her later music.

Of course, it was her next album that started it all for me, as I mentioned above. She really lets her voice free in these songs, it seems like, and the songs themselves are beautifully written. Take a listen to three standouts, the heartbreaking “You Have Been Loved,” clever kiss-off “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine,” and tender “Day Too Soon” (which is a song I’d either love to sing or have played at my wedding someday…the lyrics are perfect):

And here’s one more track from that album (I had to keep myself from sharing more…), complete with music video. It was free on iTunes one week, and I of course jumped on that offer. It was a song I hadn’t heard before I watched the video…and I was blown away, both musically and visually. It’s terrific:

Her latest album, “We Are Born,” came out in 2010, and it was an interesting shift in direction for Sia. It’s a collection of, essentially, dance pop…but done brilliantly as only Sia can. If I had my way, I’d share the whole album, but as usual I’ll keep myself to a few of my favorites…firecracker album opener “The Fight,” the disco-themed “You’ve Changed,” the peppy “Bring Night,” and the stark, beautiful “I’m In Here,” which harks back to Sia’s earlier work:

OK, so I may have embedded enough media here to paper my wall (if walls could be papered by streaming med…y’know, I’m just going to quit while I’m behind), but I have a few more songs to share with you before we go. (It’s really hard choosing my favorites with Sia, as is the case with pretty much any of my favorite artists. Just be glad I’m not dumping a bunch of clips on you and calling it a day. Anyways, Sia’s music isn’t just limited to her albums…her voice has also cropped up over the years on various soundtracks and cover projects. Notably, she contributed a gorgeous number to the “Eclipse” soundtrack (yep, she sang in a “Twilight” movie…), called “My Love.” She also did a terrific cover of Radiohead’s classic “Paranoid Android” on a Radiohead tribute album. And, oh, she’s collaborated with two people you just might have heard of lately…French producer David Guetta and rapper Flo Rida (yes, that fool behind “Low” and “Right Round”), on “Titanium” and “Wild Ones” respectively. To say she elevates both tracks to new heights would be a huge understatement. Hear all of those great Sia appearances here (like I wouldn’t embed them after all that):

And now I shall escape before I end up embedding any more songs. At least you have a lot of music to dive into. I’ll be back in a bit with a new Song of the Day, and later on with some more posts. (Famous last words? :)) Thanks, as always, for reading and listening!

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