You Don't Have to 'Get' Sia to Love Her on 'SNL'

You Don't Have to 'Get' Sia to Love Her on 'SNL'

No, America. Lady Gaga didn't get a haircut, Sia isn't copping Mother Monster's style, and the most exciting talent in pop music doesn't have to look at you in order to nail a stunning performance you can't look away from.

When it was announced that the notoriously stage-shy Sia would be heading to Saturday Night Live to begin the second half of the show's 40th season, question marks popped up all over the place: Was she going to perform with her back to the audience, as she's done in the past? Was she going to obscure her face, as she did in the promo videos for the episode that ran last week? Would there be dancing and a performance from Maddie Ziegler, the Dance Moms star featured in Sia's now iconic videos for "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart"? Was she going to perform onstage at all?

Thankfully, more yeses abounded than nos.

Yes, Sia played SNL live and in the flesh. Yes, she obscured her face and avoided singing directly to the audience for "Elastic Heart," facing the wings with her eyes and nose covered by the fringe of a piece of black taffeta (or some other material that wouldn't look out of place on a tutu). Yes, Ziegler reprised the brutal and beautiful routine she performed with Shia LaBeouf in the video. And yes, Sia's onstage performance is one of the best, most thought-provoking two-song runs the show has ever seen.

See also: The Comfort in Being Sad: How Nicki, Taylor, Sia, and Lana Transcended Melancholy in 2014

With both "Elastic Heart" and "Chandelier," the grand, full electropop productions off 1000 Forms of Fear were simplified with a modest live arrangement that consisted of little more than bare bones done Sia's way. It may seem excessive, throwing interpretive dancers and a mime into the mix, but not for Sia: Her flawless band and voice were accompanied by performers who brought another dimension to her music.

Why let the face-fringe distract from the poetry of her singles — and make no mistake, those lyrics are sheer poetry — when she can take complete control of the situation and flesh out the performance on a multi-dimensional level? With Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande and the like, we expect backup dancers and don't bat an eye when that kind of entourage fills the stage at SNL, especially when it's tired and boring and winds up falling flat as fanfare that didn't pay off. The dancers and mime who joined Sia were hardly for the sake of a laugh, in that they acted out the revealing, raw truth of her words and forced the discomfort of the audience in order to tap into that specific nerve.

Yeah, you should be uncomfortable watching two dancers clad in nude leotards sobbing and cradling each other after a brutal fight. The chorus of "Elastic Heart" is "I've got thick skin/But an elastic heart." If that isn't one of the realest sentiments someone can express when they're heartbroken and searching for a shred of resilience in the throes of a difficult time, I don't know what is — but I do know that the dancers helped drive that point home for Sia instead of hurting it. (A bunch of bros on Twitter disagreed, but we'll get to that in a minute.)

The same went for "Chandelier," which rolls through the thoughts of a party girl spinning out of control. The jazzier, modest arrangement, complete with strings and a baby grand, put Sia's voice front and center on the SNL stage, and the mime portrayed the track's side-eyed melancholy to perfection.

Sia's delivery isn't for everyone, and it doesn't have to be — that's the beauty of having an artist's record nestled comfortably in your iTunes library, where you can press play on "Elastic Heart" and acknowledge the universality of her lyrics without the added pressure of trying to figure out the avant-garde performance unfurling before you. If you open yourself up to how Sia wants these songs experienced, dancers, mimes, face-thing and all, it's worth the discomfort, and it's definitely worth those first few seconds that hang in the balance before you realize you're witnessing something great.

As for the peanut gallery? They got it, on the whole, but plenty of people were left scratching their heads.

Tweets about Sia's SNL performance are on the next page.  

First things first: Don Cheadle was at first confused but ultimately a fan:

...As was Natalie Maines:

:|

SIA DOESN'T MAKE FARTS SIA MAKES MAGIC.

See above.

Also see above.

Upcoming Events

Same.

Nope.

Yes.

"Dicknanigans." Dicknanigans?

Planet Awesome, obvs. See also: Australia.

\m/

And this sums up Sia vs. The Internet perfectly:



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