Sia – “Cheap Thrills” (Singles Going Steady)

"Cheap Thrills" is probably the best song on Sia's latest album.

Chad Miller: Sia makes such a meaningful contribution to modern pop music, whether it’s with her own singles (Chandelier and Elastic Heart) or by writing for others like Rihanna and Carly Rae Jepsen (“Diamonds” and “Making the Most of the Night”/”Boy Problems” respectively). “Cheap Thrills” is no exception to Sia’s excellent songwriting. It’s probably the best song on her latest album, and even though holistically the work was slightly underwhelming, it still contained a multitude of high points. Sia’s songwriting is in peak form, and she also shows her prowess as a pop vocalist. While previously she’s shown off her powerhouse voice with larger than life choruses that only a select few can belt, here she seems complacent in showing off the power that lies in her middle range. The drums don’t move much in this song, but they provide the perfect push to the song, and the melody has such a confident, authentic sound. It’s definitely one of my favorite pop songs of the year. [9/10]

Morgan Y. Evans: Easy but smart minimal melodies paired with spiced up soulful vocal flourishes akin to a bass or lead guitar run have often been wielded well by Sia, but “Cheap Thrills” is one of her most rewarding and agreeable tracks to date. The beat sits really well in the mix and offers a mirage of one unified pop sound that is actually a combination of many influences while the vocal never strays into the poor imitation of Mariah Carey territory that chops so many lesser talents off at the knees out of the gate. As expected the video is also tight, a lot of fun paired with the lyrics. [7/10]

Jordan Blum: I’ve always meant to listen to more of Sia; the only song of hers I really know is “Breathe Me”, which is just about the best Tori Amos song that Tori Amos didn’t write. As for this, it’s certainly different from that (and other material I’ve heard from her), so she’s definitely a varied artist who changes often. The song itself isn’t especially new, though. It sounds like something Rihanna would do with a more tribal and poppy aesthetic (the children chants are a nice touch, too). Visually, its abstractness reminds me of Björk, Overall, I respect the chameleon artistry Sia represents here more than the piece itself. [6/10]

Emmanuel Elone: Once more, Sia makes a song that establishes her as one of pop music’s best singers. Her voice is so clean and smooth while also retaining her passion and emotion in the process. The beat on “Cheap Thrills” is great, with vocal snippets that have been pitch shifted up and colorful synths that feel more organic than they do artificial. Sia even conquers this song thematically, with lyrics about having fun without spending a lot of money, making this song pop and R&B’s response to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” in a way. “Cheap Thrills” is quality pop music, and explains why other pop singers like Rihanna and Britney Spears hired her to write the lyrics for some of their biggest hits. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: This is a solid pop single, with an appropriate thumping club-ready beat. I like Sia’s voice, it’s both soaring and a bit rough. The backup vocals add another nice texture. This is one of those songs that you don’t necessarily put on your year-end list of favorite singles, but when it comes on, you’ll probably turn it up a bit. [7/10]

Pryor Stroud: Another arena-pop opus from one of the contemporary pop scene’s most arena-ready artisans, “Cheap Thrills” works as a turn-up-the-volume dancefloor compulsion, but doesn’t offer much more than that. However, it’s self-aware of itself as a mainstream-pop guilty pleasure — “Baby I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight / I love cheap thrills” — and, for that reason, saves enough face for subsequent listens to be more than justifiable. [6/10]

SCORE: 7.16