RCA Records / Wikipedia
The way that people handle rejection says a lot about them, and Sia handles rejection in a most peculiar way.
In an interview done by RTV Slovenija, Sia said that “This Is Acting” is a compilation of songs that she wrote for other artists and projects that had been rejected.
The album’s lead single, titled “Alive,” was written for Adele, but had been rejected at the last minute. Even without Adele as a vocal powerhouse, the song conveys a powerful message about survival.
“Bird Set Free” was originally written for the movie “Pitch Perfect 2” but was rejected and replaced by the song “Flashlight.” After that, the song was sent to Rihanna, but she also rejected it. The song keeps the full ensemble sound that would come from an a cappella group by layering Sia’s voice on a multitude of different parts.
Since the songs were not written about Sia herself, they seem a little impersonal and they lose some of their original meaning and the raw sound that often stems from personal connections to songs.
In another article written by Stereogum, Sia said, “I didn’t go in thinking ‘this is something I would say’. It’s more like play-acting.”
“House on Fire” sounded extremely disconnected from the lyrics of the song. The lyrics describe a desperate burning, but the song sounds like a happy, peppy summer anthem with relaxed sounding vocals.
A few of the other songs also had this happy almost-reggae feeling to them, including “Reaper” and “Cheap Thrills.”
The song “Sweet Design” seems almost like an outlier of the album with its Latin feel, this contrasts a bit with Sia’s soulful voice, making the lyrics difficult to understand.
Overall, “This Is Acting” seems to have a lot of songs that sound odd and are definitely different from Sia’s normal “brand” of music. It causes the album to be a little confusing and difficult to listen to at times, as well as lacking personal connection, but it does contain a couple of redeeming tracks.