With one exception, Sia’s upcoming album ‘This Is Acting’ features songs written for but rejected by other artists. Adele turned down lead single ‘Alive’, recent buzz track ‘Bird Set Free’ was intended for the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack, and now comes ‘Cheap Thrills’, which was politely declined by Rihanna. “I realised just as soon as I was cutting it that it sounded a little bit too Brit-pop for her. It’s more Icona Pop,” Sia told Rolling Stone recently. “We did actually send it to her, but they passed on it and then I just couldn’t stop listening to it in the car… It felt very summer and fun, and I was like, “I’ll put that on [the album].”
Sia’s assessment of the song is pretty accurate. The loping tropical beat instantly suggests Rihanna, and its chorus cry of “I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight” would have made sense after ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’. But the chanted hooks of “I love cheap thrills!” are probably a bit too cheesy for RiRi in 2015 – as Sia says, they’re more suited to bolshy Europop duo Icona Pop. ‘Cheap Thrills’ doesn’t sound like a typical Sia song either, but she’s already told us she’s “acting” on this album, remember, and there’s no denying this is another superior slab of on-trend ear candy from one of pop’s finest songwriters. On this evidence, one singer’s trash is another’s treasure.