No, Slate, The New Sia Video Is Not A Happy Childlike Frolic (But It’s Still Amazing)

Do you watch “Dance Moms”? You probably should not, because moms are terrible to each other on it, and not in the fun way we are terrible. But you should definitely watch this new Sia video, “Chandelier,” that stars Maddie Ziegler, one of the children that’s been shoved into the maw of reality teevee, because it’s really good.

Having taken time out from writing songs for pretty much everyone on earth (Beyonce, Flo-ride, Britney, Jessie J, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and on and on and on), Sia’s set to release a new album, 1000 Forms of Fear, later this year. Chandelier, the lead single, is a dark number about a person who is barely keeping it together:

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

In the video, Ziegler is in an apartment that’s underfurnished and has a desperate air of emptiness and sadness in it. She flings herself from wall to wall, she mimes eating a desultory meal alone at the table, and she ends with a repeated rictus grin curtsy that feels like a fuck you to every child dance number that ends with a bright inviting smile. Disturbing and gorgeous.

Before we peace out, let us all take a moment to say “what the fuck, Slate” as their reviewer seems to think this is some sort of fun romp:

Apropos of the song’s theme of childlike abandon, Ziegler, sporting a blond wig that resembles Sia’s own hair, frolics around an apartment.

Urm. The song itself is pretty obviously about barely hanging on, about drinking yourself away to nothingness all night, your momentary joy at swinging from the chandelier and living like tomorrow will never come completely shattered by the shame of the sun coming up. If that’s “childlike abandon,” your child is in a rough space. Also, nothing about the dance can even remotely be described as a frolic. It’s yearning and as Ziegler covers the room, you feel her desperation to fill up the empty space of the barren apartment, her need to find something, anything, to hold on to. That, kids, is not a frolic.

This is epic missing of the point, even for a #slatepitch, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the video.

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