New Topographies

July 18, 2014
/   News

Japanese Feminist Artist Arrested For 3D-Printing Her Own Vagina

The Un-Pop Star

/   Music

While most pop stars seem to bask in the relentless schedule of talk-show gigs and magazine spreads that accompany the release of a record, Sia chose to forgo the media frenzy almost completely.

World Cup Displacement

July 15, 2014
/   News

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets this June chanting “FIFA go home,” to the World Cup organization that The Nation’s Dave Zirin called “a neoliberal Trojan horse.”

Attention Crash

/   Art Review

The Barbican Center’s Digital Revolution exemplifies the most frustrating aspects of a life fully infiltrated by technology.

Son of 70mm Fest at Music Box

July 11, 2014
/   Arts & Culture

Over the next two weeks, Chicago's Music Box Theatre will be hosting the second edition of its 70mm film festival, celebrating the unprecedented beauty of 70mm cinema.

“Truth and Liveness” at SUGS

July 5, 2014
/   School

Here, There and Everywhere: Truth and Liveness is a two-person show featuring works by recent SAIC alumni Angharad Davies and Stephen Kwok. The exhibition’s opening coincided with Kwok’s performance piece, Pineapple, which was featured...

Byway

July 3, 2014
/   Feature Stories

F Newsmagazine's summer literary issue trods on well-worn ground with our senses enlivened. We drift, and we ramble on and through the alleys, streets, parks, and monuments of Chicago

La Llorona

/   Comics

About the unaccompanied immigrant children Obama is figuring out how to deport quickly.

Last of Sullivan Exhibitions

June 29, 2014
/   School

“Attachments features 19 works by graduating design students in the Master of Fine Arts in Designed Objects; Master of Design in Designed Objects; Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment; Master of Architecture...

2008 Fall Art Sale – video

December 15, 2008
/   Miscellany

The Holiday Art Sale is an annual event providing students an opportunity to sell work. Students receive eighty-five percent of sales. The Student Association receives fifteen percent, which covers the cost of...

Mindless Internet Control

November 4, 2013
/   Feature Stories

The Circulation and Trade of Your Personal Data


How many things are you doing at your computer right now? It's becoming harder and harder to unplug, and Internet-based companies are taking advantage of our addictions.

“Truth and Liveness” at SUGS

July 5, 2014
/   School

Here, There and Everywhere: Truth and Liveness is a two-person show featuring works by recent SAIC alumni Angharad Davies and Stephen Kwok. The exhibition’s opening coincided with Kwok’s performance piece, Pineapple, which was featured...

Sheer Fabric = More Liberal Thinking?

November 12, 2008
/   Subfeature

Is a movement toward a less puritanical America on its way? Fashion designers seem to think so as evidenced by the sheer fabrics that were all the rage in New York during Spring 2009...

Life on PST

December 16, 2011
/   Feature Stories

“It is 3:45 pm Pacific Standard Time. Today is Friday, October 28th. 46 Exhibitions Open RIGHT NOW.”

Collage by Rosie Accola

Collage by Rosie Accola

Sia Furler is the lyrical mastermind behind an endless stream of pop hits including Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and David Guetta’s “Titanium.” Her list of celebrity clientele is extensive, ranging from Beyonce to Lea Michele, but unlike her A-list collaborators, Sia prefers to avoid the spotlight entirely and focus solely on her work as a writer.
Recently, Sia released her first solo album in four years, 1000 Forms of Fear. While most pop stars seem to bask in the relentless schedule of talk-show gigs and magazine spreads that accompany the release of a record, Sia chose to forgo the media frenzy almost completely. She performs on live television with her back to the audience. Instead of focusing on herself, she draws the eye to elaborate colorful sets and troops of eager dancers donning wigs of her signature platinum blonde bob, while she stands in the corner and sings.

By drawing attention to other people, Sia also opens up a collaborative avenue between the dancers and set designers that would otherwise be overshadowed by the egocentric mentality of the pop star. Her live performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers allowed Lena Dunham to don her own blonde bob and dance to Chandelier while the music video itself allowed reality TV series Dance Mom’s wunderkind Maddie Ziegler to establish herself as something more than a reality TV star. In a world where the persona of the pop star often overshadows droves of people who make the illusion of pop superstardom possible, Sia’s inclusive approach to pop music is extremely refreshing. By removing herself from the performance, Sia demonstrates not only that the product and the person are separate entities, but that pop music itself is a collaborative effort.

It’s not as if Sia has completely dismissed the notion of promoting an album, rather she manipulates preconceived notions of what a pop star is supposed to be in order to better accommodate her anxieties. One of the unspoken tenets of pop music is the assumption that by presenting one’s work to the public, one inadvertently forfeits a significant portion of privacy. Thus, Sia’s decision to impose a barrier between herself as an artist and the product she creates dismantles the idea that in order to be successful in pop music one must sell themselves completely.

Literally turning one’s back to the prospect of public admiration is brave and contrary to what the title may suggest 1000 Forms of Fear is an album about bravery. As a songwriter, Sia possesses a poignancy that doesn’t often thrive within the confines of the pop music industry. Her songs are deeply personal, multifaceted reckonings that force Sia to deal with her own addictive tendencies or destructive relationships. The fact that Sia now fully embraces the effervescent beats of the pop music industry only enhances the brevity of her lyrics.

Each track on 1000 Forms of Fear is lyrically and structurally nuanced. Hostage is reminiscent of Sia’s 2010 solo release We are Born with its punchy guitar-soaked chorus, whereas Chandelier is already asserting itself as a summer top 40 staple. In addition to displaying her pop prowess, Sia also flaunts her ability to croon on some of the album’s slower tracks. On her second single, Big Girls Cry, Sia’s voice unfurls brilliantly as she counters the assumption that adulthood requires emotional stoicism. While some tracks are brimming with classic pop beats, others like Fair Game are backed by a tentative string section and accompanying chimes reminiscent of a child’s music box.

In 12 tracks, 1000 Forms of Fear manages to tackle a variety of musical stylings while still flowing seamlessly from one song to the next. The album is knit together by Sia’s signature gravelly alto, which leaps through each chorus with a sense of triumph that her previous studio albums lacked. Sia’s fierce assertion that “I want it/ I want my life so bad” on Elastic Heart is a much needed rejection of Lana Del Rey’s apathetic declaration that she wants to die already.

1000 Forms of Fear serves as a refreshingly poignant antithesis to the “eat/sleep/party” tracks that populate summer charts. Sia is a musical force to be reckoned with. The best part is, she’ll continue to conquer the music industry on her own terms.

 

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Alyssa Moxley

Alyssa Moxley is an artist that works with sound and installation. Using multiple voices, microphone techniques, field recording, music, sound design, and speaker placement, she plays with memory as both a personal and shared medium. She is currently based in Chicago studying an MFA in studio practice and sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jessica Sattell

Design & Tech Writer/Data Nerd. Web Editor @fnewsmagazine + Arts Journalism Grad Student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Troy Pieper

A writer and editor based in Chicago, Illinois. I provide fresh, compelling arts and culture content to a variety of publications and write powerful, targeted copy for a range of institutions.