Shattering the chandelier

February 1st, 2016
by Chris

One of my guilty pleasures is the blind auditions of “The Voice”. I’m less struck on the rest of the show, but the unseen singer and the chairs turning (or not) is a magic formula.

Saturday night saw the first blind audition of this year which I’ve thought truly exceptional (OK, most of the other acts this year I’d have turned my chair for, none of the judges liked…). The singer was Kevin Simm, once of Liberty X (which seems to have escaped my notice). I was sufficiently struck by his performance to want to listen to it again, and then to do a little digging about the song, which also had escaped my notice, apparently in 2014, written and recorded by the Australian singer Sia.

It more or less immediately occurred to me that the subject of the song lent itself to the more emotional (and painful) rendering which Kevin gave it than the electropop of the original; that wasn’t, I found, original to Kevin, as Jordan Smith had also got a four-chair turn with the song on The Voice America. However, reflection and some research indicated that perhaps Sia had seen it as ironic, which was borne out by the fact that one critic is recorded as saying that the song made him want to “swing from the chandelier”. The rest of the critics mostly seem to have recognised it for the rather dark piece it is.

” Party girls don’t get hurt / Can’t feel anything, when will I learn / I push it down, push it down / I’m the one “for a good time call” / Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell / I feel the love, feel the love”, then the refrain

” 1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink / 1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink / 1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink / Throw ’em back, till I lose count /
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier / I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist…”

then “But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes / Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight”. Feeling dreadful and shameful in the morning, and then “1,2,3,1,2,3…” Rinse and repeat.

Aside from the fact that by the time I got myself into a cycle like that, there was no swinging from the chandelier, just an ability to function somewhat normally for a while (and the period kept decreasing), I recognise this all too well. It’s about a slide into alcoholism, with a strong note of desperation. There’s the wanting to stop negative feelings there, the having to put on a front for the world, the suppressed misery and above all the feeling of helplessness and inevitablility all distilled into what are really very few lyrics – it’s extremely well crafted. And in the song, it’s decorated by soaring voice on the word “chandelier”, particularly beautifully sung by Mr. Simm (who deserves to do very well in the rest of the series).

That was some years ago now, and although I keep the memory alive through 12 step meetings, it’s usually very muted – “we shall not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”. This song, which has stuck in my brain as what we refer to as an “ear-worm” removes the muting, and makes the experience of 10-12 years ago vivid again. Though, unlike the critic, it doesn’t make me want to swing from the chandelier, more to run and hide from anything remotely like that. For the twelve-steppers, more like “1,2,3, don’t drink”.

The memory is still painful, it seems. Perhaps that’s a good thing. But please can the song stop running through the back of my mind for a while?

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