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Examining Music: Sia's Chandelier

Image of David by John Barrett

Sia's magnificent, heart-rending vocal (echoes of Barbra Streisand/Bonnie Tyler/Meatloaf) soaring above the EDM/electonica influenced track and combined with Maddie Zeigler's astonishing improvised gymnastic dance in the video - ensured Chandelier killed it in 2014.

With a spectacularly dramatic chorus, fuelled by raw passion and an inspired touch of Broadway theatre

styling, this emotional cross-bolt of a song aims straight for the heart.

The production adds layers of Sia's vocals - often heavily enhanced with intense echo/reverb/eq effects

behind and in juxtaposition to the main melody - they provide harmony, contrapuntal movement and a sense of mystery.

An arpeggiated, synthesised church organ/calliope enveloped in a spacious long-tailed reverb (my

best attempt at describing the sound) creates a magical 'Wizard of Oz' cinematic ambience that cradles the track - from the opening 808 drums, the thundering rock drums that drive the chorus and the outro.

The uplifting melodies/instrumental arrangement are in contrast to the melancholy subject matter of the lyrics, a self - confessional litany of destructive alcohol/drug usage fuelling a 'party girl' persona, always ready to swing from the chandelier of the title in an attempt to remain the centre of attention . . . combined with an admission of shame and unhappiness resulting from this out of control behaviour.

The mastering is beautifully understated - from the sparse opening voice, midi drum and 'calliope' to the massive choral expansion - volume levels remain constant, no obvious 'pumping' as a result of limiting. Upper mid range clarity is magical, the frequencies carefully managed with the low end primarily held at a solid, powerful 40Hz with relatively consistent eq compression right up to 5kHz (7 - 12kHz accentuated during the choruses).

A commercial 'pop' song that, although produced/arranged in the glossy manner currently popular,

manages to stretch the boundaries of the genre - emotionally and lyrically.

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