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Singing from the chandelier

NPR has a great profile of Sia, one of the most talented and fascinating songwriters of our age.

On the verses she trips across syllables like skipping stones and chews vowels like gum — an affectation that’s spawned no end of affectionate memes. On the pre-chorus, she switches to the sloshed gutters of her low register, Auto-Tune bubbling off the vocal like a Poliça record. On the chorus — a big one — she belts loud, but it’s not the immaculate belt of a Whitney Houston, but one with exertion and rasp, strain and push (in the spinto sense, pushing away air). Where traditional divas’ voices sound like centers of gravity, Sia sounds like she’s fighting against gravity itself. She’s singing about it, too; the chorus doesn’t end with a big high note, but an almost-mumbled oath: “holding on for dear life.”