After finding myself to be recently obsessed with one of Sia’s songs, “Elastic Heart,” I decided to look up her music video. Little did I know, I was about to stumble upon a film that led me to a brilliantly disturbing world--a world that continued and became even more profound in two alternative and similarly thematic videos of hers: “Chandelier” and “Big Girls Cry.”
Now, before reading this article, it is imperative that you have seen these three music videos in succession--"Chandelier," "Elastic Heart," and "Big Girls Cry." Otherwise, the following comments and realizations regarding the videos’ content will not make much sense.
All of Sia’s videos feature the astounding dancer Maddie Ziegler, who initially received publicity from the ridiculous yet highly entertaining reality show Dance Moms. However, in these routines, Maddie is not dressed in her usual iridescent, bedazzled costumes, fake eyelashes, and vivid lipstick. No, no…In this trilogy, she is dancing in nothing but a nude leotard, little-to-no makeup, and a blonde bob wig.
After listening to all three of these songs on their own, one would expect them to be paired with the typical aspects of most pop music video, such as elaborate costuming, cliché plot-lines (ex: boy meets girl, etc.), and most importantly, many close-up shots of the artist soulfully singing while, of course, looking fabulous. In all, most pop music videos are used as live photo shoots used to draw attention to the artist.
Sia drastically alters these familiar expectations, however, by dragging her audience members into an exceptionally unsettling, gorgeously animalistic, and personally revealing universe--a universe in which Sia herself does not make a single appearance; rather, she uses Maddie as her face and self-representation.
As I watched these videos, many questions entered my mind. Why did these videos disturb me so immensely? Why did they reach me at a personal and powerful level?
Well, this effect is because in each video, Sia directed Maddie and sometimes other participants--Shia LaBeouf made an impeccable appearance in one of her videos--to portray a claustrophobic nature of distress, insecurities, and forced appearances. This nature is one that I, and I am sure many of us, internally experience far too often but never admit to; thus, seeing someone else openly reveal the frustrations and fear that is inevitably experienced when immersed in such a nature conclusively leaves us feeling completely unsettled. This is why Sia is so brilliant for utilizing this unique, three-part plot-line for her three pop music videos: because her story, unlike many pop artists', touches us on a personally disturbing level.
So, the question still remains: why should everyone watch Sia’s music video trilogy?
The answer: in order to immerse yourselves into an all-consuming state that forces you to face these familiar emotions we often bury and neglect. These music videos can bring forth such hidden, intrinsic, and raw emotions whose presence leaves you feeling vulnerable, slightly distraught, and wonderfully perplexed. The fact that three short films are able to spark such responses is incredible, and thus viewing them is an experience that everyone should have.
Not to mention, Maddie’s symbolic and technically exquisite dancing and Shia’s outstanding theatrical performance are pretty amazing to watch in Sia's "Elastic Heart" video.