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Sia Chandelier Lyrics Meaning and Analysis

sia chandelier

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard Sia’s single “Chandelier” off her new album 1000 Forms of Fear.

She’s had some commercial success in the past, but this song broke into the top 10 on the Billboard 100 and seems to be everywhere.

I’ve been sitting on this post and decided now was good timing, because I imagine this song will blast from many speakers tonight at New Year’s Eve parties as some sort of uplifting dance song.

In the past, Sia has had the most success in indie scenes because of the subtle deepness to her lyrics and complicated tonal and harmonic aspects to the songwriting. At first glance, this song seems to go against this history with a purely pop appeal.

This article will be an attempt to show that lyrically there is still the depth of her past material.

Let’s start with the reason I think the song blew up in the first place. If you ask someone for the lyrics, they will probably only remember the chorus:

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist

Like it doesn’t exist

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

chandelier lyrics meaning

Chandelier Chorus

These lyrics have a mostly uplifting feel to them.

  • Live life to the fullest.
  • Go out and party.
  • Do things that are out of your comfort zone.
  • Seize the day.

This feeling is backed by the soaring melody and general good feeling of a pop song.

But notice that already there is some sadness to the lyrics hinted at. I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist has a dual meaning. It can indicate recklessness (like swinging from a chandelier). It can also be taken a bit more literally since it is repeated.

Maybe tomorrow won’t exist for her, and she has reason to believe this. The other early indication of sadness is that her tears are drying. She’s been crying.

Sadness in Sia’s Chandelier Lyrics

The verse lyrics go by fast and are generally easy to miss. The opening already gives away that the song is not as cheery as one might imagine:

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

There is an implication here that the main girl is some party girl or even a prostitute. I know some people objected to this interpretation when I first proposed it. But the phrase “for a good time call” is the exact phrasing used to indicate sex work.

The verse even ends with “I feel the love, feel the love.” This is a secondary reinforcement of the idea that she’s propositioning someone for sex. I fully admit it doesn’t mean she’s necessarily a sex worker. This is just one interpretation supported by the highly specific phrasing in this verse.

She puts up a front of always having a good time—that she is happy and can’t get hurt. In fact, she has put up such a shield that she can’t feel anything. She pushes the bad feelings down.

The next part is “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink/Throw ’em back ’til I lose count.” This girl uses alcohol in a severely unhealthy way to numb her feelings. She gives the impression of going out and having fun, but she is depressed and probably dependent on alcohol to numb her emotions.

The other half of the chorus is:

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

Now swinging from the chandelier has a double meaning. It isn’t symbolic of living an unconventional, free life to the fullest. It seems here to be symbolic of near catastrophe. She is barely holding on. She can’t even look at what she’s doing.

“I’m just holding on for tonight” is carefully worded.

On the one hand, it can mean that she’s holding on for the night. She will make it through. The darker interpretation is that she will only hold on for tonight.

Once the night is over she will let go into death. This isn’t as implausible as it sounds. If we think back to the alcohol references, it’s possible she’s trying to overdose.

She’s swinging from the chandelier as a cry for help. People tend to not think of alcohol as a dangerous drug, but people die from it all the time. The way Sia says that sentence, I’m just holding on for tonight, over and over at the end of the song implies this darker interpretation.

Second Verse

If you aren’t convinced yet, the second verse drives this interpretation home:

Sun is up, I’m a mess

Gotta get out now, gotta run from this

Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

The night was not a fun party at all. She’s ashamed of the acts she performed and wants to run away from it.

Then it cycles right back into: 1,2,3 drink. You could try to argue that this is just how songs work. There are verses and choruses. You shouldn’t interpret the form as a real life cycle, because all songs have this cyclic form.

Here, I think it’s justified. She wants to get rid of the shame, and her coping mechanism is to drink. So, she starts “throwing ’em back” to forget and become happy and carefree again.

This is the classic addict cycle. The drug creates a feeling of shame. The shame drives you to want to remove the shame with the drug. And on and on it goes.

The song beautifully illustrates this concept.

But it does so much more than that because it also has tricked a lot of people into thinking the song is happy and about being carefree and living for today.

Carpe diem!

This is one of those life imitating art imitating life spirals. The song has tricked the listener in the same way that the alcohol has tricked Sia. It makes you feel good in the moment, but it hides the underlying sadness.

I’ll reiterate here just how dark the song is. It’s not merely about addiction and its horrendous cycle. Sia makes pointed references to her life ending. We hear “live like tomorrow doesn’t exist,” but what she’s really saying is that tomorrow might not exist.

For the addict, tomorrow might not exist. It’s not a hypothetical.

So, the next time you’re dancing and getting pumped up by this song, and you think to yourself, I’m going to seize the day, remember what it’s really about. The song has managed to trick you in the same way that drugs trick millions of people.

Swing from the chandelier means you’re holding on for dear life.

If you liked this, you might like my analysis of Matt Nathanson’s Modern Love.

24 thoughts on “Sia Chandelier Lyrics Meaning and Analysis”

  1. First heard this song on SNL and it felt uplifting to me. The only words i really heard were those in the main chorus, so i wasn’t really hearing the song at all. Later i looked up the video with lyrics on youtube. It’s hard for me to enjoy the song now. Feeling pity for the poor party girl hits me like a sock in the gut. The girl described in that song is in a self-destructive death spiral that can only end in tragedy.

  2. Nicely done sir. Thank you for sharing. You’re a regular English Literature buff like me. A very good analysis. I agree with you on all points. I used to work clubs as a DJ. I’ve seen this behavior countless times. Seen the ending on some. The chord progression is classic pop sad/ melancholia.

  3. This song is a little more complicated than your evaluation. Sia suffers from a genetic disease that causes insufferable pain called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Once you understand this, the listener better understands the perspective of the artist. Those of us with this rare disease completely relate to the lyrics in most of Sia’s songs because we travel the same road.

    1. Sia may suffer from a genetic disease, but what is being critiqued is the song lyrics, not her personal condition. Hello! Anyone who reads the lyrics can plainly see this person is a promiscuous, depressed-alcoholic who, presumes to live her life with no consequences, but her actions take a toll on her mind, and now she is contemplating suicide, with no success. You don’t need to be a psychologist to figure this one out, but sometimes common sense, isn’t that common.

      1. Exactly!! Her condition don’t have anything to do with it. It’s a dark song about a depressed hooker plain simple. And She probably didn’t write the song so it’s obvious it’s not about her specifically. We gotta think just a little better

    2. Thank you, nice article the tune is catchy, and the message sounds realistic, although maybe not uplifting people stuck in that lifestyle need a lifeline. Which as a Christian I recommend the gospel.

    3. I find the lyrics to this song even more disturbing when you think of the countless children and women who are taken for sex trafficking. Sia’s use of Maddie (as a young teen) as the dancer in her video and in a run down looking environment further makes me think of this scenario.

      Either way your interpretation of the lyrics is very insightful and for the most part spot on.

    4. When I first listen to the song I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics indeed. But from the dance and the environment in the video it’s gonna be a sad song. You can see the dance symbolised alcohol abuse, suicide, (possibly) pregnancy, caged life.

    5. Amazing analysis. I absolutely love it. I’d been thinking about this song and its lyrics tonight for some reason, and reading this gave me a whole new perspective. I originally thought it was purely about alcoholism (I interpreted the “here comes the shame” part as her waking up hungover and realising she’d given in to alcohol again), but now I see the other details.

    6. This song is about depression, alcoholism and suicide. She wants to literally hang herself from the chandelier for her life is so messed up there’s no reason to keep on living. The only haven for her is the state of being drunk and that, ironically, causes the downward spiral leading to her bitter end.

      “I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry.”

      Also in the video you can see how Maddie’s hands are pink, representing blood. And the part where she runs to the curtains and grabs them, that’s when the hanging happens. (There’s also blood on those curtains)

    7. your interpretation is exactly what I got from he song I just might add swinging from the chandelier while shows a careless act by a drunk girl in its darker interpretation could also mean suicide by hanging. keep up the good work. thanks

    8. 1+2+3 = 6 —- 666

      Swing from chandlelier means hanging herself ,,, fly like a bird, death…. shame because she’s doesn’t do it

        1. It’s Sia herself saying that it’s a shame she doesn’t kill herself. “Sun is up… here comes the shame… here comes the shame” implying that this “morning light” gives her a realization that she’s trapped in this endless cycle and therefore causes herself a shame she couldn’t end her life the previous night.

        1. Song’s meaning goes a lot deeper than that. It’s just not cut and dried. But everyone doesn’t see the same things.

      1. Despite your thorough analysis I have to completely disagree.

        The song is about depression and someone using alcohol to try to cope with that depression pushing them in deeper and deeper.

        [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]

        Very recognizable for people that are depressed. For the outside world they are considered to be spontaneous and people often invite them to party’s because they always manage to create a great atmosphere. They’re the so-called party makers, but little do outsiders know: it’s all an act. Depression often goes hand in hand with guilt and shame and as long as the depressed person is making sure other people are having a good time and/or solving their issues they don’t need to think about their own issues.

        This however is taking an immensely toll on the depressed person and makes the situation worse. Alcohol and drugs make sure they keep keep going. Hence the drinking in the song. It numbs the feelings and allows the depressed person to continue keeping up appearances.

        [‘m gonna swing from the chandelier
        From the chandelier
        I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
        Like it doesn’t exist
        I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night
        Feel my tears as they dry
        I’m gonna swing from the chandelier
        From the chandelier]

        Swinging from the chandelier refers to the advise depressed people get all the time. Just like ‘living as tomorrow never exist. They’re advised to stop thinking about issues and problems – to stop worrying, Act in the moment. This is very tiresome because it doesn’t help at all and leads to frustration. So you want me not to worry? I will act as if tomorrow doesn’t exist! So you want me to be spontaneous? See my swinging from the chandelier?! Birds normally don’t fly through the night, but I will. Is that spontaneous enough? The depression I’m having is not important, My feelings, my issues, my problems are not important! I will ignore them.. They don’t matter..It’s just tears and tears will dry.

        [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
        Help me, I’m holding on…]

        Again it’s all an act. I’m struggling for any hope to keep on living, but it’s so hard. I can’t deal with the world anymore. I don’t want to be afraid anymore by looking down, but I’m afraid to look around so I won’t open my eyes. If I keep on drinking I will probably make it through this night, because as long as this night is over things will hopefully get better. I need help, I’m just holding on by a thread.

        [Sun is up, I’m a mess
        Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
        Here comes the shame, here comes the shame]

        The next day: the alcohol has worn off. I need to get away, I need to run from my feelings. I feel even worse than I did yesterday. I know drinking is not the solution. Why do I keep drinking? Why can’t I be positive? Why can’t I be like everyone else. I feel even more depressed now.

        Stuff get’s repeated in the song and probably means that every day and every night feels like yesterday. Every day the same struggle starts over and over again.. The acting, the drinking, the holding on and realization help is needed, followed by the shame of the alcohol abuse and the depression taking the overhand again. It’s a loop without hope and for me unfortunately very recognizable.

        1. Ola' (Zarry Cole)

          Amahhhhhhzingly spot on, Grollk. The repetition; the struggle. So poignant. It all makes sense.

          But to think stumbling on a funny Facebook video of a cat swinging from a lamp shade over an hour ago made me realized I’d heard this songs a number of times but had never caught most of the lyrics nor seen the music video. I guess this is the end of that rabbit hole for me.

          Thanks, Matt for making the original blog post!

      2. I have been under a rock and in a streaming bubble for quite some time. I kind of knew of the song but never pulled it up intentionally to listen to it.

        Today I had the radio on which is very rare and the song came on. It gave me a very sorrowful feeling even though I wasn’t really analyzing it. I was just folding laundry, but I could feel desperation in the song. The feeling stuck with me and I had to look it up. Thank you for posting this.

        Maybe it is because I have been there.

      3. I just wanted to point out that Sia is not totally giving up yet, she is hanging there for her dear life, she is trying…

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