SIA: Revisiting the Iconic Album, 1000 Forms of Fear

Sia is an artist that has made a huge impact on the music scene since she first arrived on it. Whether it’s her powerful and impressive vocals; her songwriting skills (which give not only herself success in the charts, but huge hits for other notable acts in the industry); or her unique image, she has captivated her legions of fans who simply can’t get enough of her.

It’s hard to believe it’s almost seven years ago that Sia released her album 1000 Forms of Fear. Previous to this, she had released five albums (including her debut OnlySee, Colour the Small One and We Are Born). Those earlier releases had a distinctly different sound from what was to come later; they were full of dreamy, acoustic-laden tracks that had a laidback energy, almost as if Sia was quietly planting the seeds of what was to burst fourth when she crossed over into major, commercial success.

Even in her earliest days as a music artist, she connected deeply with her fans with her vulnerable, honest lyrics and original style — however, once 1000 Forms of Fear landed into the sonic landscape, everything changed. Nothing was the same for Sia — or her fans — ever again.

Released on 4th July 2014 (Monkeypuzzle/RCA Records), 1000 Forms of Fear was a career defining moment for Sia. It was her sixth solo studio album, and had a dramatically different feel from her earlier releases. Largely electropop (infused with both raggae and hiphop influences), 1000 Forms of Fear was a benchmark moment for the Australian singer.

Lyrically, the album was raw, honest and deeply emotional. Touching upon subjects such as addiction and mental health, Sia didn’t hold back in unveiling deeper aspects of her psyche on the record.

Critics loved the album, with much praise being heaped onto the release from mainstream publications, such as Rolling Stone, AllMusic and The Daily Telegraph. Fans, too, couldn’t get enough, and pushed the album into the number one spot in the Australian and US Billboard charts. In the UK, it went top five and was certified platinum.

Perhaps it was the album’s first single that was destined to capture the world’s attention: Chandelier is an epic track which gives Sia a platform to show off her almost limitless vocals. A catchy earworm of a song, it is also brutally honest, lyrically, with Sia exploring the ways in which she, and others, use drink and partying to escape the darker truths that need confronting. Chandelier was written by Sia with Jesse Shatkin, and the single received critical acclaim and reached the top five in 20 countries. The song became almost like an anthem — for her fans and music lovers in general. By now, the video (starring Maddie Ziegler) has been viewed over 2 billion times. It was an exceptional lead single to what would become one of Sia’s most loved and popular albums.

Big Girls Cry, Elastic Heart and the insanely catchy Fire Meets Gasoline were the singles that followed, and cemented Sia’s place in pop music history.

Picture — New York Times

If the arrival of 1000 Forms of Fear showed the public anything, it was that Sia was destined to change the landscape of the music industry. At this time of her career, she adopted the white bob wig, which would become iconic of the singer, she began finding diverse and unique ways to perform live (such as with her back to the audience, or standing almost off-stage whilst she allowed her dancers to steal the limelight). Sia delivered a new type of female empowerment: finding your strength through exploring (and accepting) your vulnerabilities.

1000 Forms of Fear was a massively personal album, with lyrics that felt as if they were taken from the pages of a private diary. It was evident through the 12 tracks of the release that Sia wasn’t an artist to hold back — she traversed the entire spectrum of her being. She addressed her emotions, deeply rooted issues and experiences with a frankness not usually seen in modern day pop singers.

Standout tracks on 1000 Forms of Fear include Dressed In Black, with its haunting, melancholic opening verse that soon blasts into one of the most hook-filled chorus’ of her career; Eye Of The Needle, a heart-breaking journey full of longing which she co-wrote with Chris Braide, and Fire Meet Gasoline, an outstanding, unforgettable ballad Sia wrote with Greg Kurstin.

1000 Forms of Fear feels like the singer gave us permission to hear her deepest secrets and darkest struggles. Unlike many other artists in the field, Sia embraced her struggles and used them to produce one of the greatest albums of recent years. With vocals and lyrics unmatched by her contemporaries, Sia pulled out all the stops with this release — and she’s been going strong ever since.

It is not hard to see, several years after its initial release, why the album is so highly revered and favoured by her diehard audience. It will be interesting to follow the artist’s journey, and see where she takes us next…

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Freelance writer and published author.

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