Although Sia has been releasing solo albums constantly since 1997, she didn’t achieve commercial success until 17 years later, with 2014’s 1000 Forms of Fear album. What’s even crazier to realize is that the album, home of the international hit Chandelier, was released as a mere contractual obligation. Its only purpose was that of freeing Sia from her label so that she could finally concentrate on composing for other artists only. Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Kylie Minogue among others had already benefited from her songwriting so it seemed like the logical artistic move.
But the success of 1000 Forms of Fear encouraged Sia to continue releasing solo albums concurrently with the outside songwriting. Released this year as the follow-up was This Is Acting, an album consisting entirely of songs written for other artists by Sia that were rejected. The title makes sense then: “I’m calling it ‘This Is Acting’ because they are songs I was writing for other people, so I didn’t go in thinking ‘this is something I would say’. It’s more like play-acting.”
Alive, the album’s first single, was rejected by Adele. Others like Bird Set Free were rejected by multiple artists, Rihanna and Adele in this case. As for Sia’s first number one hit ever, Cheap Thrills, again we have Rihanna as the originally intended performer. The song eventually became a dancehall number with Sia and Sean Paul trading verses and singing the chorus together.
Cheap Thrills spent 4 consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100 before being dethroned by The Chainsmokers’ Closer (featuring Halsey).