Is it really possible to compile a bunch of rejected songs and create a hit album? Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler thought so. In the past she has written songs for A-list artists like Adele, Shakira, Rihanna and more that ended up being rejected by the artists themselves. Sia’s plan was to record the rejected tracks that she felt were potential chart-toppers. Her latest album entitled This is Acting, released on Jan. 29, 2016, was the end result of this interesting experiment.
At 40 years old, Sia is responsible for penning hits like Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” and Jessie J’s “Flashlight.” With that experience under her belt, This is Acting was highly anticipated by her fans. The album definitely has some hits, but it also has some misses, and many could-be-but-not-quite-great singles. In all honesty, it isn’t so hard to see why some of the songs were rejected, but there were a few that surprised me.
One of the singles worth noting is “Bird Set Free,” which was rejected by Rihanna and “Pitch Perfect 2.” Adele recorded it, but decided to drop it from her latest album. “Bird” is very confident and easily resembles what Sia stands for. She sings, “I don’t care that I sing off key/I found myself in my melody.”
That line is definitely a punch at those who criticize Sia. The song probably would’ve fit well in Adele’s album, as it is underscored by a piano melody. Similarly, the leading single on This Is Acting, entitled “Alive,” was also recorded and rejected by Adele because its ragged high notes weren’t fit for her.
This is Acting contains one song that was only ever meant for Sia’s voice: “One Million Bullets.” This is another high point in the compilation, as its verses are reminiscent of her last album 1000 Forms of Fear. The chorus emphasizes a sense of hazard when she sings, “I got a feeling that danger is coming.” By far, this is the song that seems to have the most personal emotion.
Of the twelve songs on This is Acting, there are three that could fall under the category of “party” music. There’s “Move Your Body”, originally meant for Shakira, or “Cheap Thrills,” meant for Rihanna. The third song, “Sweet Design”, is the most playful of the three, and my personal favorite.
With a fast and remixed beat, “Sweet Design” is refreshingly different from her usual seriousness. It shows her confidence, as she sings “News travels fast when you’ve got an ass like my sweet design…baby got back.” It’s funny and fresh-sounding, and could be a hit if Sia really wanted it to be.
The bad news is that, with the exception of these unique songs, much of the album sounds the same due to the huge choruses and hard beats in every song, which were all of course meant to be singles. Besides “One Million Bullets,” none of the songs seem as personal or as fit for Sia, but that has to be because they were never written for her to sing in the first place. They were meant to match their A-list singer.
Overall, This is Acting doesn’t top the very emotional 1000 Forms of Fear at all. However, with the potential seen in “Sweet Design”, “One Million Bullets,” or “Bird Set Free,” all of the A-listers that turned Sia down could be proven totally wrong.