Who is Sia? It’s tempting to say she’s the one of the biggest popstars you’ve never heard of, but the truth is Sia’s name has been on pretty much every pop lover’s lips for the last year or so.
She’s penned tracks for some of the biggest stars on the planet –Beyoncé and Katy Perry to name just two – has a million-selling single of her own under her belt and yet few people know her story or even what she looks like.
As the notoriously shy Sia prepares to step out of the spotlight – well, she’s sort of putting one of her toes out, anyway – with new solo single Chandelier and album 1000 Forms Of Fear, we thought it was time to take a closer look at pop’s First Lady.
Sia’s been a solo artist for ages, actually
Sia may not have been in the hearts and minds of the mainstream for very long, but she has been a solo artist since 1997, when she released her first album OnlySee. She’s about to release her sixth – yes, sixth! – album, 1000 Forms Of Fear, which is out next week. Only one of her albums has made the Official Albums Chart – We Are Born reached Number 74 in 2010. We have a feeling her latest album will improve on that peak position!
Her first solo hit was Taken For Granted, which actually made the Top 10 in 2000. It’s her only Top 40 single as solo credited artist (and is very good).
She’s not too fond of being famous
Sia has described herself as a reluctant popstar – she wasn’t expecting her Titanium vocal to be released and when it was, found all the attention a bit much. She appeared on a magazine cover with a bag over her head in 2013, and doesn’t appear at all in the video for her massive new single Chandelier, nor on the cover. Only her trademark white blond bob is on display. Even performing the track live won’t tempt her out into the spotlight – she gets a helping hand. Watch Girls star Lena Dunham perform Chandelier with Sia. (Sia’s on the bed.)
Sia found fame singing on other people’s songs
Sia was a frequent collaborator with British trip hop duo Zero 7, scoring one Top 40 hit with them in 2001, Destiny. She shot to fame thanks to her turn on David Guetta’s Number 1 Titanium (more on this below) and Flo Rida’s Number 4 hit Wild Ones, which has sold over 730,000 copies in the UK. She landed another hit with Guetta in late 2012 when She Wolf (Falling To Pieces) hit Number 8 – it’s sold over 300,000 copies.
Sia’s written three Number 1 singles – and appeared on one of them herself
Titanium is the Number 1 we all remember Sia for, of course, but she has also been the brains behind another two, which topped the charts within a month of each other. First Sia helped Ne-Yo score his fifth Number 1 Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love), which topped the Official Singles Chart in September 2012 and has sold over 400,000 copies.
Next came a big one: Rihanna’s Diamonds ,which reached Number 1 in October 2012. The track was Rihanna’s seventh Number 1 and has sold a whopping 1 million copies – becoming the fourth track featuring Rihanna to sell over a million.
Here’s a rare appearance from Sia, singing a version of the track herself.
Sia wasn’t supposed to sing on Titanium
Sia wrote the lyrics for David Guetta’s Titanium and provided demo vocals, as David was planning on asking a well-known pop diva to lend her lungs to it and Sia wasn’t keen on the idea of doing dance music.
Guetta finally got round to asking Katy Perry if she would do the honours, but when Katy heard the song, she reckoned Sia’s vocals were more than adequate – they were actually pretty amazing. David had to agree – you don’t really want to be telling Katy Perry she’s wrong, do you? – and Sia scored her first ever chart-topper.
The track has sold 1.1 million copies, so she probably made the right decision, eh?
She’s also written songs for Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Kylie, Celine Dion and other stars!
The first tune that made people sit up and take notice of Sia was the Christina Aguilera ballad You Lost Me, from the star’s Bionic album.
While the song didn’t enjoy much chart success, it got Sia some attention, and soon stars were knocking her door down looking for a piece of the action.
Celine Dion’s comeback single Loved Me Back To Life was another Sia-penned tune, peaking at Number 14 in 2013. Sia is big pals with Katy Perry, whose album Prism features a track the two wrote together, Double Rainbow.
In December 2013, Beyoncé turned the world on its head by chucking her self-titled fifth album on iTunes overnight, and Sia was right there on track number one. The anti-perfection Pretty Hurts was originally written with Sia’s buddy Katy Perry in mind, but Katy didn’t get that all-important email. Perry’s loss was Bey’s gain…
Sia has also written tracks for Britney (Perfume) and Rita Ora (Radioactive), and was executive producer of fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue’s album Kiss Me Once, writing the title track and co-writing the rather saucy ‘not in front of the children, dear’ Sexercize.
Now, with Chandelier, could Sia be about to hit the big time all over again, and in her own name? Its final chart position will be revealed this Sunday…