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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Sia creates moving 'The Greatest' music video in wake of Orlando shooting

Sia has a way of making herself the canvas that lives in multiple frames. She’s become what the music industry has lost since the emergence of digital media, an artist who is willing to sacrifice the glam of fame for the appreciation of the art. “The Greatest” is Sia’s latest music release with a chilling message that has haunted America since June. It’s heavy and whole; viewers claim that it’s connected to the mass killing of 49 people at Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub, that occurred this past June.

The power of silence is a holding scream, a vessel of breath that Sia has kept for herself since multiple interpretations of the video were posted online. Sia hasn’t confirmed the music video’s central meaning, but some of her performers have made it very clear what the video means, such as Matt Moseley who instagrammed a screencap of the video with the caption “Humbled to be a part of this video. Thank you @siathisisacting. 49 beautiful lives lost. This is for you.” It’s like a morbid dream, and Sia brings it back to life. There are 49 young dancers led by Maddie Ziegler, the fighting frontier with rainbow paint on her face. As the video comes to what looks like a never-ending nightmare on repeat, the dancers fall down as a bullet-shot wall lights through the background; maybe a symbol for the lives lost in the club that night, or the ones still living with this traumatizing moment; it hits heavy.

It could be tragedy pop or intentionally moving. It’s a work of art that doesn’t derail the message with the overly exaggerated renditions like Interscope Records production of “Hands,” that features 24 artist aimlessly giving ways to cope and move forward, instead of just feeling in the moment. “The Greatest” has Sia all over it, and we hear every last note. It’s Sia searching for the soul of the bitter war, a peak of vocals, a danceable chant, a meditating melody and its warm June night.

Although the song was co-written by Sia and Greg Kurstin before the Orlando massacre, the chorus gut-wrenchingly fits: “I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive.” She belts like the gunshot after the last sprint. The video stands on it’s own as an aftermath of emotions, featuring Maddie Ziegler, this time, with a black wig. The video is a story with a shifting narrative. Ziegler brings back to life the other young dancers, as they search for safety in this broken “home,” with a nightclub ending. The use of contemporary dancing to connect the moments of movement and her vocals to the climactic points in the video fit like a portrait.

It’s terrifyingly beautiful. Ryan Heffington’s choreography is impeccable. The use of separate movements that still synch together like lava, the use of young innocent youths and the daunting message of mourning make the video arguably the best piece of music-related work regarding the Orlando shooting that we’ve seen. The video ends with Maddie Ziegler in tears; it’s powerfully moving and bizarre enough to remind us how tender life is, and how easily it can be taken without notice.

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