The success of Sia

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First Posted: 7/13/2014

You have heard her on popular songs like Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones” and David Guetta’s “Titanium.” She wrote those and a handful of other big hits, including Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” But now singer/songwriter Sia Furler is stepping out on her own in a bigger way than before. The 38 year-old’s fourth studio album, 1000 Forms Of Fear, is the number one album in the country.

It has been well-documented that Sia is not your typical pop star. The album cycle for her chart-topping release has been anything but normal: a random interview with Howard Stern, a performance on Ellen in which her back was to the audience the entire song, and a Billboard magazine cover in which her face was covered with a paper bag.

But then she sat down in Los Angeles and called “Ralphie Tonight”; the first of a 40 minute stretch of radio interviews. Her contract states that she is not obligated to do press, but RCA Records convinced Sia to make time for radio stations on the premise that her LP was on pace to hit number one, and the extra airtime could keep it that way.

The plan worked, although perhaps predictably, Sia’s motivation to top the chart did not serve a monetary or fame-centric purpose.

“Then I could have the little thing in Billboard for my mom, the paper that says, ‘number one,’” she revealed. Turns out Sia simply wanted a keepsake, and not one that she would keep for herself.

It is quite fascinating that in a “selfie-generation,” the Australian artist is proving that you can have success in the music industry without having to make it all about yourself, or about anything other than your art.

“I learned again that I didn’t want to be recognizable,” Sia said of her experience promoting the LP. “It’s an experiment. I didn’t have any desire to educate or set an example per say.”

Sia can afford to do so, literally and figuratively speaking, because she has “the luxury of not needing to sell my own solo records as an artist because now I write pop songs for all of these massive pop stars.”

In addition to the aforementioned singers, Sia told me that while creating 100 Forms she also crafted tracks for No Doubt, Maroon 5, and Kylie Minogue. She also explained that when she writes a song, the concept and melody come first. Matter of fact, she uses the first melody that comes to her mind, before she even hears the track.

“I might write down titles as I’m walking around in the world,” she explained. “I might see something and think, ‘Oh chandelier… I could swing from that. That would make an interesting concept.’”

“Chandelier” is the first single from her latest album. Other times, Sia writes backwards. For the hit she penned and then sang on for Guetta, she wrote “bullet proof, nothing to lose.”

“And then I was like, ‘What is bullet proof?’” she recalled. “And I typed in to Google… and it said titanium!”

– Listen to “Ralphie Tonight” weeknights from 7p-12a on 97 BHT.