Last week, I went to a re-opening party at a pilates studio and a teacher did a gorgeous demonstration to Sia’s Elastic Heart. A couple of days later, I saw Sia perform the song on Saturday Night Live. She performed with a cover over her face and did not directly face the audience while she sang. I understand that she wanted people to focus on the music rather than on her looks, but it just felt like a gimmick.
If you tell someone, ‘Don’t think of a pink flamingo,’ she will think of a pink flamino. If you tell yourself, ‘Don’t mess up at work today,’ you will mess up at work. Sia telling people, ‘Don’t look at my face,’ will make them want to look at her face. They will focus on trying to see her through the mask she wears, and will spend the whole performance wishing she were facing them and singing out to them.
I love Sia’s music. In fact, Elastic Heart is one of my current favourite songs. She also co-wrote Britney’s song Perfume, which is another of my favourites and one I really relate to. I would respect Sia more if she didn’t try to draw the attention away from herself and onto the music by obscuring her appearance. It’s as though she’s only inviting people to look at her more closely. People would pay more attention to the music if she presented naturally and without an aforementioned stipulation.
If Sia sincerely wanted to remain in the background or out of sight, she could choose not to perform and simply release videos that feature other performers, like she did with Wild Ones and Elastic Heart (and even Breathe Me). She could continue writing music for others if she so desperately wished to be known for her music rather than her appearance. Her music is very honest, but what she does as a performer feels insincere.