“Furler wrote Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ in 14 minutes”

The New York Times Magazine profiled Sia Furler, the brilliant and press-averse singer/songwriter who last year appeared on the cover of Billboard with a paper bag on her head:

Pop hits these days usually have at least two or three writers, and the choruses are generally celebratory — “victim to victory,” as Furler put it. For some, this process can still be soul-wrenching and endless, but Furler has no patience for that. In recent years, she has become a one-woman hit factory, working with Kurstin and others to write songs for artists like Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé. And her hits — including Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones” and Eminem’s “Beautiful Pain” — seem to roll off something of a pop-music assembly line. Furler wrote Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in 14 minutes. After the D.J. David Guetta invited her to write the melody and lyrics for one of his songs, she futzed around on the Internet and pumped out “Titanium” in 40 minutes. (It has since been downloaded more than 3.7 million times.)

Sia wrote “Diamonds” in less time than it takes me to drink a cup of coffee. The behind-the-scenes women of the music industry (20 Feet to Stardom, holy shit) are endlessly fascinating, and I’d read unlimited words on them and would certainly read a whole book about Sia, who got drug-riddled and suicidal when forced to go on tour, eventually “dress[ing] herself and her band in masks and black costumes so crowds couldn’t see their faces onstage.” She got sober and found out she was better off writing for other people:

Daniel explained to Furler that she didn’t have to put herself out there as personally as she did on “Breathe Me.” He described what he called “high concept” songs — the industry trick of coming up with a word or phrase that works as a simple, poignant, bankable metaphor, like the Katy Perry song “Firework.”

Spotting a piggy bank on a table, Furler asked him: “So I could write, ‘I’m not your piggy bank’?”

“Exactly,” Daniel said.

Here’s a video of Sia singing her 14 minutes of work, salute. [NYT]

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