Behind The Song: “Chandelier” by Sia

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On the origins of this song Sia wrote for Rihanna

One of the most haunting and powerful songs to emerge in recent years, it came from this songwriter who was happier writing hit songs for others, such as Rihanna, than sing them herself. But this one, she realized, was different.

But how could someone who didn’t want to be recognized go out and let the world hear the song? It was a question not as easily answered. But she got there, allowing others to act out the song as she stood concealed, a mysterious figure often shrouded and/or bewigged, but belting out this song from the core of her soulful self.

A woman of few spoken words, Sia did divulge some of the origins of this song, as did her co-writer Jesse Slatkin.

“I sat down with the intention to write for Rihanna,” she said.

Sia, “Chandelier”

“But as the song took shape I realized it was personal, and that I was attached to it somehow. My intuition told me to sing it myself.” 

It started starkly, with Sia on piano, exploring ideas, and co-writer Jesse Shatkin on marimba. They found the feel and the chords, which she recorded on her phone, and sent to Jesse, who filled out the track. His melodic ideas, and “mad genius,” as she described it, led to the words. But the thought of giving this song to Rihanna quickly shifted:

“Once I had recorded the vocals, I realized I had accidentally written a pop song for myself. I felt I couldn’t give it away.”

The title came from her book of song ideas, an image which opened possibilities:

“When I saw a chandelier, I thought I could write a song about swinging from the chandelier. A party anthem of some sort. But as I was writing it, it turned into a song about my battles with addiction, inadvertently.”

Distinguished by a big melodic leap into one of the most soaring and triumphant choruses since Tom Petty’s famous octave-jump in “Free Falling,” Sia said it was there from the start.

“[The chorus] really just fell out of me that way,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have to think or plan. You just have to be there when it happens. And capture it.”

Co-writer Jesse Slatkin agreed it was the perfect song for Sia herself. “She is an extraordinary singer and artist,” he said. “I think we both realized nobody could sing the song like that. It was a song for Sia.”

“Chandelier”
By Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin


Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it downI’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, they’re ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

One, two, three, one, two, three, drink
One, two, three, one, two, three, drink
One, two, three, one, two, three, drinkT

Throw em back, till I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, I feel the love, feel the love
I feel the love, feel the love
Sun is up, I’m a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this

Here comes the shame, here comes the shame
One, two, three, one, two, three, drink
One, two, three, one, two, three, drink
One, two, three, one, two, three, drink
Throw em back till I lose count
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight

Sia, “Chandelier,” live on SNL

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