New Music Reviews

Sia’s Courage to Change: Art Continues to Define 2020

I really love Sia’s music and I am always excited to see a new single from her. Moreover, as an Australian citizen, I always cheer a little harder for Australians who have made it on the big stage. Much like other artists in 2020, Sia turns her gaze towards change and confronting uncomfortable truths in her latest track Courage to Change.

First of all, Courage to Change is a track off the soundtrack of her upcoming movie Music. Sia wrote and created the soundtrack for Music, which stars Kate Hudson. Another track from the soundtrack released ahead of the movie is Together, which was released with a number of remixes. I am interested to see what the movie has to offer, but this review will focus on the track.

The track uses strings and a number of vocal and electronic effects. Sia has employed similar musical structures in previous songs like Bird Set Free, Alive and The Greatest. In each track there is a quiet and simple lead – in with either strings, guitar or piano, which is quickly followed by a wall of sound pop chorus explosion. Sia’s voice is so powerful that she can easily blow a song out of the water right out of the gate, so using more restrained instrumentation in the beginning of the track creates some interest and conflict. If the track was Sia going 100mph the entire time, it would lack interest and become one note. She employs strings and keyboard quite well in this track. It opens with some epic chords on the cello, which contrast against some chaotic keyboard playing as the song hits its zenith about 3:30 in. Electronic beats and drums gives the chorus a soaring quality, which lifts everything and reinforces the hook. All and all, the song is constructed well and has a great pace.

Lyrically, the song is about the subject trying to find the courage to change his / her life. She sings: “World, I want to leave you better / I want my life to matter /
I am afraid I have no purpose here” in the opening verse. This verse is repeated throughout the track in different forms and underlines the thoughts we all have as we go through life. Most importantly, these lyrics take on an added weight as they are desperately sung over deep cello chords. As Sia, and others, see the evils of the world on full display in the streets like: police brutality, killing of black men / women, mounting COVID deaths and children in cages we all ask ourselves how we can make a difference. In the hands of another artist, the song may crumble under this weight and drowned in regret. However, Sia is able to take this desire to make the world a better place and take it to a soaring chorus where she really lets her vocal run wild on ” Have I the courage to change? / Have I the courage to change today? / You’re not alone in all this / You’re not alone, I promise / Standing together, we can do anything.” Instead of falling under the weight of doubt, Sia turns it into an anthemic call to community action that we can all be a part of.

Sia’s vocal range is what really makes this song for me. You can hear the desperation and fragility in her voice during the first verse undergo a metamorphosis into a strong and soaring beacon of hope in the chorus. The key to this track is how she can turn an existential crisis into hope for the future. I just love the hook on this track and experiencing Sia’s voice in full flight. I hope this is a harbinger of more solo studio work from her in 2020 and 2021.

Listen to Courage to Change

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