"Chandelier" is a hauntingly sad song. It might be the most hauntingly catchy upbeat pop song since fun.'s "Some Nights." "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third-Eye Blind also falls into this category, as does "Bad Romance" by Lady GaGa, just to name a few. Personally, few things are as compelling to me as a musical artist who wants to take you to a dark place through a catchy hook.
My love of this genre goes at least as far back as the Violent Femmes, probably to Andrew Gold's "Lonely Boy." The genre goes beyond that to, predictably, "Billy Don't Be a Hero" and "Leader of the Pack." We humans have always liked our darker moments to have a nice hook.
It's not just music. One of the most awesome short poems in the history of the universe is Margaret Atwood's "You Fit Into Me":
You fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook(For those who don't catch the double-meaning here, the first "hook into an eye" is a reference to screen doors of yore, how they would latch with what is called a hook and eye. She then mutates that image of two people connected by a strong attachment into something altogether more macabre. And I love it.)While Sia's newest pop sensation -- and for all her social oddities, she's become a pop song generator of the highest caliber -- is not a terribly complicated song, I promise you that most listeners will fail to see it as the heartbreaking cautionary tale is was clearly intended to be, just as most people in the '90s mistook "Under the Bridge" as a last chance romantic slow-dance at prom.
an open eye
By "Chandelier," the protagonist is partying out of a desperate need to ignore or escape what is supposed to be her life.
Party girls don't get hurt.
Throw the drinks back 'til you lose count.
Live like tomorrow doesn't exist.
In the morning, gotta run (because) here comes the shame.
Keep my glass full til morning light,
'cuz I'm just holding on for tonight.
I'm holding on for dear life.
It's a simple song and quite repetitive. But stuck in that minor chord, and with a voice exploding in plaintive desperation, it is a brilliant cautionary tale pop song for a generation that romanticizes the notion of a party life that could possibly exist sans consequences or risks. Even if a young woman manages to survive a wild night without some dude attempting to take advantage of her with or without her highly inebriated consent, she must still survive the battle going on in her own head, a battle that will inevitably have fallen soldiers if it involves night after night of drinking in desperate abandon.
This is the story of how a Taylor Swift becomes a Ke$ha, who (if she's lucky) becomes a Sia, a brilliantly-talented songwriter whose demons are so powerful they can no longer even be bottled, whose issues keep her from being able to face the audience ala Stu Sutcliffe. (Some might believe this is a publicity stunt, but seeing how Sia is 38 and was doing quite well with her songwriting lately, I just don't buy that.)
Of course the songs aren't about them, the performers. Of course Taylor Swift and Ke$ha and Sia aren't the same people in different moments on some "Back to the Future" timeline. Of course not. But... I'd still love for someone to expertly mash up these songs. It would make for a compelling story.