Sia’s music videos are always visually stunning, intriguing and hold a deeper meaning in her process of storytelling. Along with her haunting vocals, powerful lyrics and unique choreography, her lyricism is strongest in new single and music video “The Greatest.”
The music video is an ode to the massacre in Pulse Nightclub on June 12 that resulted in the death of 49 people and wounds of 53 others, making it both the deadliest single gunman mass shooting and deadliest incident of violence against the LGBT community in US history.
Sia brought back her muse, Maddie Ziegler, but this time in a black wig rather than her blonde one to represent mourning. Ziegler is shown smearing her cheeks with a rainbow directly after a black background with the hashtag #weareyourchildren. Ziegler’s tears commence the song and awakes her other 49 dancers.
The setting of the video is similar to the house of “Chandelier” as well as the cage from “Elastic Heart” from which Ziegler breaks the dancers free. The other dancers wear paint on their faces to identify themselves as those deceased from shooting and often pursue movements of defeat, such as throwing themselves onto the wall and dropping to the ground.
Choreographer Ryan Heffington chose to reuse certain moves from “Chandelier” such as overdone facial expressions, hands in front of the face and the harsh pointing of the finger. Tight formations and sharp, quick movements were his chosen style for this story.
The lyrics, “I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive, I’m free to be the greatest here tonight” from the chorus tell what the victims were. They were great, alive and proud to be who they were, celebrating the fact that they were allowed to live and be the people they want to be before someone, unable to do so himself, ended that for them.
The final chorus of the video shows the dancers in a new location, a large room with strobe lights like a dance floor; the nightclub. As the song ends, the dancers jump up and down making their infamous, wild Sia faces and fall to floor, symbolizing those shot and killed at Pulse. Ziegler is shown one last time with the rainbow covering her cheeks and tears falling over the colors.
Although Sia has not given a statement about the video, some of her dancers have stated their gratitude to be a part of a piece of artwork so meaningful, therefore somewhat verifying its obvious correlation to the Pulse Nightclub massacre.
This devastating event created from hate is a tragic loss for the LGBT community and their allies, but it is when a piece of artwork is able to recognize and remember those taken by hate that it makes the healing and growing process just a little bit easier. While Sia is not a woman of many words, her “The Greatest” music video is able to say all it needs through love and art.