Wednesday 7 September 2016

Is Sia's tribute to Pulse Victims with "The Greatest" Insensitive?

Fresh off the success of smash hit Cheap Thrills, Sia has returned with a brand new song from her brand new LP We Are Your Children.

The Greatest is classic Sia with repetitive hooks, building bridges and edgy belts- which culminate in an impressive Eb5 following the middle eight. It's not the strongest of leads from the Diva, admittedly, but it should do well capitalising off of the Island-y sound of Thrills.

The video, now that is tonally different, being anything BUT sunny and light. Once you become aware of it (supposedly) being a tribute to those affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting, what you're watching makes sense. However, that doesn't explain why Sia chose to make this song a tribute.

The cynical side says it was to add depth where there wasn't any. After all, The Greatest can be read as another generic, uplifting dance anthem. I can only imagine the pressure record execs are putting on Sia to remain commercial and viable. The similar sound to Thrills and the small gap between this LP and her last, This Is Acting, somewhat attests to that. So could it be that her freedom of expression has shifted balance from the music to the visual?

Even if this is true, examining the lyrics of the chorus, "I'm free to be the greatest, I'm alive, I'm free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest," it comes off insensitive considering how many of the victims aren't alive or free to be "the greatest".

Or is the song for those who survived? The lines "Uh-oh, running out of breath, but I Oh, I, I got stamina. Uh-oh, running now, I close my eyes" could allude to their escape from the club. But boy oh boy is that a heavy interpretation. If that is the case, I salute Sia because that would make this a dark, bold and subversive piece of pop. Even more so as people will be dancing to this in clubs all over the world.

Whatever the case, it's done the job of art and got people talking! Currently freaking the fudge out of some people (check the YouTube Comments), The Greatest is going to be getting publicity on multiple fronts. See if it resonates with you.


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