Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Sia – Saved My Life

Where did it go wrong?


David Moore: At this point the only value I can find in most new Sia singles is imagining what the Toad version would sound like. This one would be excellent. 

Alfred Soto: Disparaging Sia’s music gets tedious, but, really, what’s a listener to do? Among joyless thank-god-I-found-yous, “Saved My Life” drifts to the bottom. Whoever came up with the approach in the verses might’ve thought it had the virtue of simplicity, or as a means of suggesting Sia is rendered incoherent by this transcendent being. It might’ve worked if Sia didn’t approach melody as if tenderizing a chicken breast. 

Will Adams: Given their long working history, it’s a bummer how much Sia and Greg Kurstin’s collaborations have begun to resemble a wheezing mechanism. Nowhere is that more apparent than “Saved My Life,” as its utter lack of a pulse makes me long for “Chandelier.” The endlessly repeated lyrics drag things down further; most awkward is the first verse’s “boom, boom, boom, baby boom,” which comes off as a failed experiment to write an “OK boomer” hook. Sia’s been upfront about the automated nature of her pop writing, but this sounds like the machine was running at quarter capacity.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: There is a certain point on the spectrum of lazy songwriting where coherence falls away entirely. Words stop coming together into sentences, sentences do not make their way into greater passages of meaning, and the arc of the song evaporates into nothingness. “Saved My Life” has gone so far past this point that it is impossible to analyze. It’s just an artillery barrage of piano and vocal, a collection of inspirational textures in search of a point.

Alex Clifton: Please, please, please/stop and freeze, freeze, freeze/hear my pleas, pleas, pleas/I’m on my knees, knees, knees/but with ease, ease, ease/I can tease, tease, tease/songs like these, these, these/sound like cheese, cheese, cheese.

Katherine St Asaph: It’s finally happened: after years of everyone’s songs sounding like repurposed Sia, a Sia song sounds like repurposed someone else — namely Pink, in wiser-but-lesser adult contemporary guise. Though the chorus sounds like, of all things, “Time to Say Goodbye.” (This is a weird nostalgia cycle we’re in now!). And “baby boom in the dark” sounds like a phrase in need of thinking twice.

Michael Hong: At this point, it feels like Sia’s written at least a couple albums’ worth of this exact same song. Both the repetition of the concept and the lengthy echo of the lyrics have diminishing returns.

Edward Okulicz: Not that anyone listens to a recent Sia song for emotional nuance and subtlety, but this is just so much emotional assault by repetition and anguished vowels that I feel utterly in pain when exposed to it. Sia isn’t going to go back to the days of selling fuck-all with wonderful songs like “Day Too Soon” or “Breathe Me,” but the sheer arrogance of putting this half-written batch of limp cliches out and singing it like it’s world-ending is almost offensive. This is horrendous and evil as a song, and I cannot believe anyone could derive any pleasure or emotional succour from something this grotesque.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: For me the essential Sia track, my first Sia track, was 2004’s “Breathe Me.” It’s a track not stripped to the bones, but made entirely of them, a stunning portrait of suffering that begins with the world “help.” When I was a kid, gay and alone in the Midwest, it felt like Sia had found a way to physically transmute vulnerability into a sound, one that I could wrap around myself like armour against loneliness or sadness. 16 years later, “Saved My Life” feels like a sequel. If in “Breathe Me” Sia was looking for a savior, someone to literally breathe life into her, here someone has finally answered her call from the darkness. There’s thematic continuity in the two songs’ physicality: a movement from breath to heartbeat. But as much as I want to love this song for these links, I can’t. The original sounds impossibly intimate, but this feels like it was written as a panacea for depression in the COVID era — too neat, too distilled, too mass-produced. Am I a masochist for wishing this felt less like an anthem and more like a private moment? I know that this song has genuine intentions, and that it will help people. I’ll just never love it the same way.

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3 Responses to “Sia – Saved My Life”

  1. DAVID

  2. DAVID I am dyyyyyying

  3. I think this song is best appreciated when addressing literally everything but the lyrics, which are quite obviously placeholders-before-export.

    I really liked this single for nodding to her earlier sonic palettes (Healing is Difficult), implementing some random harp in the monolithic pre-chorus, but mostly her breathless, almost coital delivery, especially the “high”s in the second verse. She’s smiling, and you can really hear it!

    Sia’s cynicism toward her own work is ultimately what beleaguers her and likely what cements her reliance on Kurstin’s rote productions.

    As Wayne so thoughtfully pointed out, though, I find it pretty difficult to hate even her most trivial bullshit in light of discographical context. Sia’s made it clear that she’s done wallowing in her depths and has no intention of inspecting further. Releasing yourself from the burden of that expectation really makes her garbage stink a little less.

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