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Album review: Sia shines brightly on '1000 Forms of Fear'

After guesting on so many hits, she's ready for some of her own


Sia has had more success as a guest on other artists' records-- such as David Guetta’s “Titanium” and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones” or during her stint with Zero 7 on tunes like “Destiny” --than as a solo artist, but with “Chandelier,” the first single from “1000 Forms of Fear,” out tomorrow (8), the Australian singer/songwriter is finally breaking out as a pop star on her own.

“Chandelier” reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, in large part driven by its compelling video featuring 11-year old dancer Maddie Ziegler. Though Sia has had several strong songs on her previous albums, “Chandelier” is her first bona-fide hit as a solo artist.

The good news is there’s plenty more on “Fear,” produced by Greg Kurstin, to continue that path, even if there is nothing that’s quite as striking as “Chandelier,” a tune that sounds similar to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”—a song co-written by Sia— but bolstered by Sia’s brilliant take on a party girl whose lows are as devastating as her highs are exhilarating.

Sia often slurs her words as they roll over the electronic-enhanced melodies like water in a creek flowing over uneven rocks. It can be jarring at times as she breaks words in strange places and swings up and down the scale in unexpected ways, unconfined by any traditional pop singing structure. For example, on “Cellophane,”  Sia sings as if she’s up on the Broadway stage, full of drama, as she delivers lines like “I’m  such a basket case while I fall apart, you hide all my pills again.” Interesting echo-y production with a subtle use of a tremolo guitar make the song a stand out.

“Fear’s” first few tunes, “Chandelier,” “Big Girls Cry” and “Burn The Pages” follow enough of the same script—electronic tracks with pop production— that the album is just starting to feel predictable when it takes a sharp turn with the ultra-poppy, Gwen Stefani-like “Hostage.” The  toe-tapping, peppy, high velocity pop track betrays the downer lyrics on this sure-to-be single. Sia then veers into Lana Del Rey territory on the stately, grand ballad “Straight For The Knife,” about a lover who knows exactly where all her weak spots are and exactly how to inflict  maximum damage. While Sia is just as capable of sounding as mannered as LDR, she always remains inviting as opposed to some impenetrable presence. In fact, if anything, she lays herself bare over and over.

Throughout “Fear,” Sia traffics mainly in matters of love and just how toxic our relationships can be. Whether she’s admitting she doesn’t play fair either on the delicious “Fair Game,” which wraps her voice in a tinker-toy piano, or on the over-the-top, very busy closing track, “Dressed in Black,” where a new love brings her back  to life, Sia is about breaking down the barriers that make us feel alone.  

While she’s always been bracingly honest in her lyrics, on “Fear,” the combo of the music and lyrics seem to have all come together— as if she’s taking a few lessons from the other folks who have had big hits utilizing her words and her vocals. 

Now it’s her turn to shine bright like a diamond.

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<p>Patricia Arquette in &quot;Boyhood&quot;</p>

Patricia Arquette in "Boyhood"

Credit: IFC Films

Patricia Arquette calls her 12-year 'Boyhood' experience an 'anti-movie'

For you it's a film, for her it's a significant part of her life

HOLLYWOOD — This Friday is a significant date for the cast and crew of Richard Linklater's "Boyhood." After 12 long years of production on one of the most unique film projects of all time, the film will finally be unleashed on the movie-going public.

For Patricia Arquette, the anxiety mostly came at the end of shooting, when she realized this clearly life-altering experience was coming to a close. In the film, she stars as the mother of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a headstrong woman already dealing with the effects of a broken home at the beginning of the story who is challenged with finding her way through the ups and downs of life as much as her son. The film could just as easily have been called "Motherhood," and indeed, you come away sensing that Arquette delivers the film's stand-out performance.

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'The Strain,' 'American Horror Story,' 'Sons of Anarchy' head to Comic-Con 2014
Credit: FX

'The Strain,' 'American Horror Story,' 'Sons of Anarchy' head to Comic-Con 2014

'Vikings' will be down in San Diego for History

Get ready for lots and lots of Comic-Con announcements this week. 

FX and History Channel got things started on Monday (July 7) morning, teasing a slew of big panels for Comic-Con 2014.

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Jenny McCarthy: I already have a new show lined up

Jenny McCarthy: I already have a new show lined up
McCarthy pretended she wasn’t fired from “The View” during her return this morning. “After much consideration,” she said. "I’ve taken a new job that will allow me to do what I do best, which is talk without having to interrupt anyone."

“American Gladiators” is getting a modern makeover
"It's a little darker, more intense, more serious,” exec producer Arthur Smith says of the revamped “Gladiators,” which NBC briefly brought back in 2008. "It's a little less red, white and blue. And there's no spandex. Spandex has left the building."

Miley Cyrus’ NBC “Bangerz” special bombs
Just 2 million watched last night’s two-hour special. PLUS: Miley lacked the compelling energy that made her VMA performance so interesting.

How “Community” was saved — with its $2 million/episode budget intact
Sony tried everything including trying to see if its own streaming service Crackle could rescue “Community” from cancelation. But Yahoo stepped up to the plate at the last minute. With its budget intact, expect “Community” to look the same next season. But guest-stars like John Oliver and Jonathan Banks won’t likely be around, since they have other gigs.

Did “The Simpsons” predict Neymar's World Cup injury?
An April World Cup-themed episode apparently predicted the future. PLUS: Clint Dempsey visits Letterman on Wednesday.

Joan Rivers not sorry for walking off of a CNN interview
"Trial. Every question was an accusatory one designed to put me on the defensive,” Rivers says of her chat with Fredericka Whitfield.

Why “True Blood” should kill everybody off
An ending where everybody dies would be a perfect way to finish the HBO series.

Comedian transforms “Breaking Bad’s” 6 seasons into a 60-minute stage show
American comedian Miles Allen, known for appearing on YouTube as a “Homeless Man” who does “Breaking Bad” impressions, will perform his act at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Australian soap “Neighbors” is coming to Hulu
The long-running series will premiere next week with a cameo by Paula Abdul.

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<p>Ben Affleck in &quot;Gone Girl&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Rosamund Pike narrates dark new trailer for David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris also join the party

Fox pretty much sat the Oscar season out last year after coming off a big 2012-2013 season with Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." This year, they have a David Fincher film to peddle, and indeed, "Gone Girl" could be an intriguing zeitgeist play dealing in elements of misogyny and misandry and the overall war of the sexes just four years after the director tapped an au courant vein with his critically acclaimed "Social Network." The latest trailer for the film (teased over the weekend by the studio on a key date) sets the stage nicely.

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An emotional Sherri Shepherd says she planned to leave 'The View' since earlier this year

An emotional Sherri Shepherd says she planned to leave “The View” since earlier this year
Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy returned to work today for the first time since announcing their exits. While McCarthy joked about it, Shepherd said: "It is true that I'm leaving The View. Some people have known since the spring that I was leaving."

BBC apologizes for 5 leaked “Doctor Who” scripts
BBC issued a statement saying: “BBC Worldwide is currently investigating a security issue around Doctor Who Series 8 where unfinished material has inadvertently been made public. We deeply regret this and apologise to all the show's fans, the BBC and the cast and crew who have worked tirelessly making the series.

Sarah Palin: I’d like to “go rogue” on “The View”
"I hear everyone recently got canned from 'The View,’” she tells The Hollywood Reporter, "maybe a show like that needs a punch of reality and a voice of reason from America's heartland to knock some humble sense into their scripts. You know, someone willing to go rogue.” PLUS: Sportsman Channel renews “Amazing America With Sarah Palin” for a 2nd season.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Red Oaks” comedy added to Amazon’s pilots
The New Jersey country club comedy will be among the new batch of Amazon pilots that viewers will be able to pick from.

Brandon Routh joins “Arrow” as The Atom
The former “Superman” star will recur this season over 14 episodes.

IFC orders a “Spoils of Babylon” sequel
"The Spoils Before Dying” will air next summer.

John Oliver makes fun of America’s 4th of July fireworks tradition
Watch the “Last Week Tonight’s” cynical — and online only — take on our annual tradition.

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<p>Miley Cyrus</p>

Miley Cyrus

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: Sunday viewers shun Miley Cyrus as 'Unforgettable,' 'Rising Star' lead split

CBS leads overall, while ABC claims the key demo

Fast National ratings for Sunday, July 6, 2014.

CBS had Sunday's top show overall ("60 Minutes") and Sunday's top show among young viewers ("Big Brother"), but thanks to weak key demo performances by "Reckless" and "Unforgettable," the network only won the night in one of those measures.

Instead, it was ABC topping Sunday among young viewers as "Rising Star" won both of its hours among adults 18-49. 

Sunday's only other notable was NBC's late-announced "Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour" special, but the two-hour celebration of music and family-friendly kink was a dud in all measures.

On to the numbers...

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'True Blood' star: 'It’s sad' to be killed off

“True Blood” star: “It’s sad” to be killed off
"I called it at the end of last season,” says the latest “True Blood” casualty.

“SNL’s” Colin Jost: Weekend Update will be much improved next season
“I don’t feel like what I’ve done so far is a full realization of who I am,” says Jost. “There’s a lot to figure out in the beginning, and your personality starts coming out the more you do it.”

“The Sopranos’” Big Pussy: I’ve successfully battled prostate cancer this past year
Vinny Pastore worried his cancer diagnosis last year would keep him off the stage in “Bullets Over Broadway.” Instead, he’s completed 100 shows.

Brooklyn Cyclones celebrate “Seinfeld Night”
The New York Mets minor league team wore puffy shirts, renamed foul poles “Festivus poles,” handed out a “Magic Loogie” Keith Hernandez bobbleheads, had a low-talker announcer, a close-talker mascot and held an Elaine Dance Contest to celebrate “Seinfeld’s” 25th anniversary. PLUS: Jerry Seinfeld thanked "Seinfeld" fans on the 25th anniversary.

“Southern Charm” star announces bid to unseat Sen. Lindsay Graham
Former South Carolina state treasurer Thomas Ravenel, who is also a convicted felon for cocaine possession, is trying to run as an independent for the state’s U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Graham. He’ll need 10,000 signatures.

Phil and Claire’s “Modern Family” house sells for $2.15 million
The two-story property, built in 2006 in L.A.’s Cheviot Hills, contains six bedrooms and originally went to market for $2.35 million.

“Breaking Bad’s” cinematographer to direct 2 “Game of Thrones” episodes next season
Michael Slovis, who was cinematographer for nearly every “Breaking Bad” episode and director for four of them, will helm the “Game of Thrones” season premiere. He’s the 2nd “Breaking Bad” director to helm “GoT,” after Michelle MacLaren.

A Jon Stewart biography is due out this fall, titled “The Angry Optimist”
Here are some tidbits from Lisa Rogak’s book, including his stoner college life and working as a bartender at a punk rock club.

Coming soon: “Game of Thrones” wine
The Wines of Westeros will be available in The Stark (Sauvignon Blanc) and The Lannister (Pinot Noir).

Katie Couric and Kim Kardashian have apparently made up
Kris Jenner posted on Instagram a photo of the two “fake friends” together in the Hamptons.

Check out the “Better Call Saul” bobblehead
"This guy just arrived at my house,” says co-creator Peter Gould. "The law can be slippery, I'll let him handle it."

“Scandal’s” Columbus Short arrested for public intoxication
Short was taken into custody in Dallas while celebrating the 4th of July.

Lea Michele jokes about being the latest “Glee” star to get hacked
"Guess @chriscolfer and I should have known better then to make our passwords the names of our cats:),” she tweeted after her Twitter account announced she was pregnant.

Jimmy Kimmel attempts to learn Sia’s “Chanedlier” from  “Dance Moms” star
Maddie Ziegler, 11, tried to teach Kimmel and Guillermo her dance from the music video.

Brody Jenner: I never dated Lauren Conrad on “The Hills”
Their relationship, he admits, was totally fake.

Joel McHale sends up Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars"
Check out “The Soup’s” “Comedians in Cars Getting Cocaine,” with Tony Hale.

“Gypsy Sisters” star accused of stealing $14,700 from Target
Police say Joann Wells schemed with two cashiers in her alleged fraud.

Watch the trailer for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with the Atlanta Falcons
The NFL training camp reality show returns Aug. 5.

“Doctor Who” offers a new teaser
Is that the voice of Davros?

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<p>Christian Bale and Natalie Portman in &quot;Knight of Cups&quot;</p>

Christian Bale and Natalie Portman in "Knight of Cups"

Italian 'Knight of Cups' distributor says to expect Terrence Malick's film this year

I'm sure we'd like to just take this guy's word for it...

Terrence Malick is so secretive with his projects that it's sort of a perfect storm for the internet era. People track down any and all morsels of information and get hung up on whatever might be breathed about this or that project (the filmmaker is uncharacteristically prolific these last few years). Naturally, with a pair of films on the way sooner or later, the feeding frenzy is on, particularly as it pertains to "Knight of Cups" (the only one of them with a title). Is it going to hit theaters this year? That's what the film's Italian distributor says, anyway.

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<p>Sunday&#39;s &quot;True Blood&quot;</p>

Sunday's "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'True Blood' - 'Fire in the Hole'

An episode dominated by reams of talk and a major character’s untimely exit

The guiding principle behind “Fire in the Hole” seems to be that if the show can cover enough physical ground and extend its reach over a great enough span of time, that will make up for a set of relationships that have ceased to evolve and a plot that’s freezing up.  There’s a lot of inert dialogue scenes where people try to work out their thoughts and feelings, including one in which Violet expresses her disappointment in her “warrior” Jason for even having thoughts and feelings. (Remembering the day they met, she says that she could tell right away that “you were a man like they used to make them, who lived by a code of honor and dignity, and with an iron-forged c**k!” Stick that on your next Father’s Day card.) These philosophical debates don’t do much for the audience, but hey—there are flashbacks! Bill has his picture taken with his little daughter before heading off to the Civil War, and we get to see Eric’s fateful first encounter with Nan Flanagan and the forces of the Vampire Authority. If little fill-in details like that don’t do much for you, you’re out of luck.

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<p>The Leftovers</p>

The Leftovers

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Leftovers' - 'Penguin One, Us Zero'

Kevin begins to question his sanity, Laurie indoctrinates Meg, and Tommy goes on the run

A review of tonight's "The Leftovers" coming up just as soon as the entire cast of "Perfect Strangers" disappears...

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<p>Devin of &quot;Big Brother&quot;</p>

Devin of "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Sunday - Nominations, The Battle & Zankie

Plus, Devin just can't stop talking

When we left things on Thursday, Amber and, via a technicality, Devin were Head of Household.

And as we all know, lots and lots of power is sure to make Devin less annoying, right? 


Click through and follow along for Sunday (July 6) night's "Big Brother."

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