In the modern-day pop music industry, it’s really tough to find someone that is a true risk-taker. Record companies survive on the slimmest of profit and debt margins, and as a result they seek desperately to contain creativity. Artists, on the other hand, are always searching for a way to both break the mold and be rewarded for their efforts. Few are able to push the boundaries while achieving measurable success.
But few have the gifts, talent and dedication of Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler. For one thing, her trajectory into music super-stardom has been much longer than most artists, as she seems to be reaching the peak her success now in her late 30s. Her very long list of collaborators… from Rhianna to Beyonce to David Guetta… is a testament to how much influence she has throughout the industry. But as a solo artist, it took the work of her and Guetta to launch Sia straight into the stratosphere with the 2012 smash hit Titanium, regularly cited as one of the best pop songs of the decade.
After Titanium, Sia released what some think is her greatest album yet, 1000 Forms of Fear. Just as the new year starts, Sia releases the epic song Elastic Heart for the album’s second single, with a controversial video that nearly broke the internet hours after it was posted. Hunger Games fans may already know the song from the Catching Fire soundtrack.
The new video stars Maddie Ziegler (who previously starred in the video for Chandelier) and veteran movie and television actor Shia Labeouf. The whole video is shot with Lebeouf chasing Ziegler in a large metal cage. Though one can easily misinterpret singular images as disturbing or predatory, one thorough view of the entire video reveals that it’s less about the characters, but more about a depiction of inner struggle. Perhaps it represents someone who cannot defeat a problem like drug addiction, illness or a difficult relationship.
In one scene, Ziegler quickly and easily escapes from the cage, while Labeouf is trapped behind the bars reaching for her. Amazingly, he pulls his whole upper body out of the cage, yet still cannot figure how to actually get out of it. It’s a metaphor many of us have dealt with time and again, where the solution to a seemingly complicated problem is well within our grasp… we just cannot see it.
Elastic Heart also challenges many societal stereotypes. We see a true redefinition of bravery, courage and strength, as the young girl proves to have much more of each quality than the seemingly stronger adult man. Is this video meant to be a feminist statement? Not sure, but it’s certainly possible to read that way as well.
Lacking huge special effects, shocking costumes or expansive effects, the video is quite simplistic on first observation. But the message, and how it connects with the contents of Elastic Heart, are profound.
Whatever your reaction, Elastic Heart is sure to get people talking, and once again cast the spotlight on this trailblazing artist. Both the song and video are some of Sia’s best work yet. Watch for yourself here…