BSBB Round 3: Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off" vs. Sia, "Chandelier"
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Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules

Shake It Off

Taylor Swift

Chandelier

Sia



CAITLIN WHITE: This is a face-off between a fluffy, happy song about fighting off sadness and a sad, trembling song about grasping for happiness — clearly 2014 is full of confusion. While Taylor tries to beat her haters to the punch by personally laying out her faux-flaws, Sia grasps and gropes for an ecstasy strong enough to outweigh her baseline agonies. "Shake It Off" makes the day-to-day more bearable, but "Chandelier" reaches for a fleeting instant of reckless abandon that erases the monotony of tomorrow and even manages to supersede the present moment. What's better than shaking off your haters? Losing any awareness that they even exist—jumping into thin air like you'll never be mocked when you inevitably hit the ground.
My Vote: “Chandelier”

JILLIAN MAPES: This. Sick. Beat… just can’t compete with Sia’s belting. I was worried Ms. Furler had given all her best hits away before “Chandelier” was released, but that song proved me wrong by finding a middle ground between the universal hits Sia’s written for Rihanna and Britney and her all-too-real solo albums.
My Vote: “Chandelier”

ERIKA RAMIREZ: I respect that both Taylor Swift and Sia don’t care that others see that they have no rhythm. I respect it even more that they’re capitalizing on it. But Swift has been awkwardly dancing in public much longer than Sia.
My Vote: "Shake It Off"

NICK WILLIAMS: “Chandelier” has such an inventive, muscle-flexing melody. The soaring chorus demonstrates some serious vocal aerobics, and showcases Sia as not just a star songwriter but a star vocalist too. After dominating the charts writing for artists like Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry, she came out swinging with this single, which proved a perfectly triumphant way to precede her album 1000 Forms Of Fear.
My Vote: “Chandelier”

KRISTEN YOONSOO KIM: With all due respect to the incredibly talented Sia, “Chandelier” is a little too try-hard (I just listened to this three times in a row and now I have a headache). “Shake It Off,” while inferior to “Chandelier” in music video ballet choreography, has all the ingredients that makes this the perfect pop song for a) blasting in cars, b) group sing-along at karaoke and c) dancing to alone in your bedroom. The holy trifecta, IMO.
My Vote: “Shake It Off”

JAMIESON COX: Reaching this round has me feeling like Lenny Kravitz giving out the Male Model of the Year award in Zoolander: “These ain’t no slashies. These are the pure-breeds.” As far as technical showcases go, it doesn’t get much more impressive than “Chandelier” — all that strained yowling, the contortions, the idiosyncrasy! And I like songs that trick people into singing something horribly pained and fatalistic into their steering wheel while they’re driving to work in the morning. But “Shake It Off” is irresistible, studded with hooks like nougat in a Toblerone bar. It makes me laugh, because it’s a motivational anthem written and performed by someone who is obviously self-assured and confident in their abilities; she has to make up media rumors just to get through the first verse, playing at being addled. And yet, it works.
My Vote: “Shake It Off”

JEM ASWAD: Some songs get stuck in your head because they’re psychologically engineered to do so, like the most insidious commercial jingles. Some get stuck in your head because they have gorgeously evolved melodies. Taylor has plenty of examples of the latter, but “Shake It Off” isn’t one of them.
My Vote: “Chandelier”

JEREMY LARSON: "Chandelier" has a way better hook, "Chandelier" takes some risks as a song even if it's in an Evanescence kind of way, and, crucially, "Chandelier" doesn't have Taylor Swift rapping about a "sick beat" in the middle of it. Under close scrutiny, "Shake it Off" has the staying power of a pinned tweet: some self-congratulatory, hyper-ephemeral meme that will age embarrassingly fast.
My Vote: “Chandelier”

CRAIG JENKINS: With the rousing, defiant “Chandelier,” Australian singer-songwriter Sia seems to be closing in on the solo stardom that eluded her as she funneled hits through Rihanna and Ne-Yo. Elsewhere country queen emeritus Taylor Swift floated out of Nashville for good on a gleaming sun-ray from Shellback and Max Martin. Great work by Sia, but TayTay's single was an event of a magnitude we rarely see nowadays.
My Vote: “Shake It Off”

ERNEST BAKER: It's great to see Sia prosper from the days when her music was only sold at Starbucks registers to having 350 million views on YouTube, but "Shake It Off" is a phenomenon of another caliber. It practically defines 2014. There's no comparison.
My Vote: “Shake It Off”

JASON LIPSHUTZ: I’ve always been a little bothered by the structure of “Chandelier”: it rambles through its second verse, shrugs off a bridge and ends abruptly, all to make room for a chorus that sufficiently soars but drags on for well over a minute. “Shake It Off” bothered me at first for effectively pushing Taylor Swift away from the country-pop genre in which she had been excelling (I wanted more guitars instead of horns, more “Mine” instead of “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” I suppose), but then I realized that “Shake It Off” is as immaculately produced as Max Martin’s best 90’s hits, “I Want It That Way” and “…Baby One More Time.” “Chandelier” has more compelling lyrics, but “Shake It Off” has superior songwriting; if you don’t enjoy that silly spoken-word breakdown, I sincerely pity you.
My Vote: “Shake It Off”


OVERALL WINNER: “Shake It Off”

Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules