On Being Determined: Sia – Chandelier

“Chandelier”. Probably the most deeply sad yet powerfully motivational song in the modern pop landscape. Somehow it manages to combine sadness and anger and use those two emotions to cook up the Ultimate Determination Song.

In the case of this music video, the director has chosen to further empower the message of the audio by letting a somewhat ‘different’ girl, dressed in neutral clothes, dance in an empty, almost abandoned, apartment filled with lots of neutral furniture, too.
This set-up turns out to be a very wise choice, since all of that neutrality directs the viewer’s attention to the only thing that actually stands out: the movements of a small girl with a wig. Dancing alone in the comfort of her home. This action just by itself, regardless of the neutral decoration, is already a smart move since it almost immediately reminds many a viewer to their own private dancing moments in their own house, usually a bedroom, often accompanied by a mirror of some kind.
Furthermore, at crucial moments in the song’s lyrics, like when Sia sings she’s “just holding on for tonight” and “holding on for dear life”, the kid makes rhythmic movements at the kitchen table, or towards the front door, or up from the bed, that might imply she’s leaving for work. The lyrics also mention ‘party girls’ being perceived by others as having little profound emotion.

It is all of these subtle cues in the video that make the message – whatever that message may be – appealing to a wide variety of people and, undoubtedly, the kind of song one wants to listen to when one feels emotionally suppressed or overlooked, yet who would like to see that sorrow turned into some form of empowered, maybe even angered, deliberate determination. The determination to never back down, to not let other people’s opinions influence one’s own inner self-belief, and to simply give oneself permission to let oneself shine. It’s like that quote from the movie The Family Stone: “We all have a freak flag, yet few know how to fly it.”

Director of MV: David Askill, Sia

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