Hey there, this is Teacher ola podcast  episode 10: Learn English With Music: SIA ‘’Chandelier’.

I’m Ola and I teach English. I’m focused on teaching speaking.

This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. Boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation. Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello again. Today I’m going to encourage you one more time to learn English with music. Sing because speaking or singing English out loud is the best way to boost your fluency. If you’d like to find out more about learning English with music, how to do it and what are the steps check out one of my episodes, it’s available at teacherola.com/podcast. It’s an episode with Ed Sheeran’s ‘I Don’t Care’.

After listening to this episode, put it into practice and download a worksheet from my website. The activity I prepared involves filling in the missing words in the song ‘Chandelier’.

‘Chandelier’ is  an incredible song, Powerful, deep and surprisingly enough, it became a worldwide hit. I say ‘surprisingly’ because SIA wasn’t and I think, still isn’t perceived as a celebrity pop star, if you know what I mean.  It is quite something, especially for an artist who comes from a niche musical background.

I love her art, especially those old, solo albums and I was thrilled she came back to her solo career with ‘Chandelier’ in 2014. I know you know and like this song too, because it hit the top of the charts in Poland and generally all over the world. Billions of youtube viewers, hundred thousands of covers, it speaks for itself. And again, an objectively great, deep song broke through to mass audience.

In this episode I’m going to talk about the title of the song, the meaning of the song then I’m going to move on to the lyrics. It’s the third episode of TOP where I’m encouraging you to learn English with music. Previously you could hear me talking about Ed Sheeran then Lady Gaga today it’s Sia.

I don’t know if it’s okay to call it a tradition or it’s a bit too soon, but I’m sure it’s important to get the meaning of the song if there is any, sometimes there’s no meaning to some songs. It makes you understand the song, the message better as a result you remember the lyrics  better. This is how our brains work. It’s challenging to remember things we do not understand.

After SIA released her 2010 studio album ‘We are born’ she retired from her solo career. She was fine with writing hit songs for other artists,  without feeling any necessity to go back onstage herself. Stay with me till the end of this episode because I’m going to give you a very interesting list of artist she wrote songs with or for and I think you might be surprised because some of the biggest hits ever were written by Sia.

One more song fact,  and this is what Sia said in one of the interviews. She said that usually when she comes up with a song she usually thinks: ‘this would work for Rihanna, this could be a good one for Beyonce, this is a great song for Katie Perry. When she came up with ‘Chandelier’ it this was a different story. She felt that this song belongs to her. It happened accidentally, she didn’t plan to come back on stage anytime soon. And, to be honest, I don’t believe in accidents because I’m sure it was meant to be this way. I was so happy to see Sia is back.

Let’s start with the title. Chandelier – it is ​a large round frame with branches that holds lights or candles. Chandeliers are decorated with many small pieces of glass and they are hang from the ceiling. Most frequent collocations are: a crystal chandelier, a sparkling chandelier.

Now I’ll tell you a thing or two about the meaning of the song, then I’ll move on to the lyrics and we’ll go through them line by line.

The song is about a party girl’s life.  It’s about addiction especially to alcohol but also drugs. Lyrics tell us about Sia’s personal struggles with alcoholism and also prescription drugs when she was still pushing her solo career. In one interview said she had  been seriously unhappy as an artist and that she had always been a drinker, but she hadn’t known how serious it was.

There are so many pop tunes that celebrate the non-stop party, yolo anthems and Sia’s take on that topic is interesting, because it differs from the rest.  It is rooted in the Sia’s past struggles with alcoholism. Very honest.

Alcohol, drugs and other addictions  help her stay high,  away from stress and problems.   Alcohol makes her feel loved and surrounded by friends but at the same time, she knows it’s just an illusion and it’s meaningless.  When she wakes up in the morning, everything and everyone is gone what remains, are problems, silence, truth and it’s very  hard to bear.  Here comes the shame, she feels ashamed of what she  did it yesterday.

Watch the video if you haven’t yet. This video is a piece of art and it corresponds with the song at many levels. Coming back to the meaning of the song, I was saying that she wakes up and everything is even worse than before the party. Day passes, she behaves as it’s expected from her by the society. Fake smiles, postures, gestures. Watch the video! Sia says that this video is the best thing she’s ever done.

Finally, the evening comes and here she goes again. Alcohol, friends, fun, swinging from the chandelier, yolo. She numbs her sadness and her pain with her favourite medicine. That’s why party girls don’t get hurt, they don’t feel anything. She avoids painful truth, hard choices and it the end she acts like a child. Problems don’t disappear, they are concealed, it’s camouflage. I think, this is why we see an 11-year-old girl in the video.

She knows it’s all wrong, fake and she wants to stay alive, she’s holding on to dear life, or rather: ‘for’, she’s holding on for dear life.  She’s too scared to deal with the reality. She says: I won’t look down, I won’t open my eyes. She realizes it’s too scary and she’s too scared to go back to normal life. In this context I think, swinging from the chandelier might be a reference to commiting suicide.

The song is relatable for all people, since we all hide something. Fear the truth about our lives. The song tells us a story that serves as attention sign for all of us who find themselves having lots of fun at parties, starving for attention but in a wrong way. From wrong people.

Ok. That was the meaning of the song. It’s based on Sia’s comments and my own analysis of the lyrics. Talking about lyrics, let’s dive into them now. I’ll read them out slowly for you. After some of them I’ll include a pause for you to repeat, practice your fluency so that later, you’ll be able to sing the song along.

Shall we? Let’s do this:

Party girls don’t get hurt

Can’t feel anything, when will I learn?

Drugs make you numb, you don’t feel the pain, thus you can’t get hurt.

When will I learn? I know it’s just an illusion but I’m stuck in this lie.

I push it down, push it down

To push something down means to make it go down, place it lower. So she pushes her thoughts down, away from the ceiling where she’s swinging on chandelier, where she’s sort of ‘happy’.

I’m the one “for a good time call”

Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell

I feel the love, feel the love

If you’re the one for a good time call: It means that you are someone that your friends call if they want to have a good time. You’re either a fun person or maybe a person who likes to party. ‘I feel the love’, She’s in the center, She draws attention.

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Lot’s of drinks.

Throw ’em back till I lose count

To lose count, to not be able to remember a total amount, here, of drinks.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier

From the chandelier

I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist

Like it doesn’t exist

Yolo, you only live once. Carpe diem, seize the day. There’s no tomorrow, I live here and now, and only that matters. Having a good time now, without worrying about the consequences.

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night

Feel my tears as they dry

I cry, I’m not really happy, but those tears dry when I’m swinging on a chandelier, dancing, running, partying, pushing my feelings down.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier

From the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life

To hold on – here: to manage to stay alive or to deal with a difficult situation. She wants to live, life is dear to her. But also ‘For dear life’ is also an idiom, and it stands for: doing something with as much effort as possible, usually to avoid danger. I was once on a rollercoaster and I was holding on for dear life. I was so scared, I thought I might lose my life.

Won’t look down, won’t open my eyes

I won’t is a contracted form of I will not, I will not look down, I will not open my eyes. Focus on pronunciation here: It’s not ‘want’ like in: I want ice-cream, I want you, but there’s a ‘ou’ sound. I won’t look down. I won’t stop, I won’t go there, I won’t open my eyes. And the lyrics go:

Keep my glass full until morning light

Keep my glass full, pour me some more, I’m going to drink all night.

‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight

It feels worse and worse now, but I have to survive this night, I’m holding on for tonight. I’m not worried about the future, I don’t think there’s any, I just want to stay alive through this night.

Help me, I’m holding on for dear life

Help me appears here, so she is looking for somebody who could help her, because she knows it’s impossible to get out of this addiction on her own.

Won’t look down, won’t open my eyes

Keep my glass full until morning light

‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight, on for tonight

Sun is up, I’m a mess

Another day, ugly truth strikes again. She’s a mess: she’s made of problems, difficulties and mistakes.

Gotta get out now, gotta run from this

Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

She needs help, she wants to end it up, she feels ashamed. Shame is the feeling you have when you feel guilty and embarrassed because you, or someone who is close to you, have done something wrong.

Now, this is not the end of your lesson. It’s time for your move. Go to teacherola.com/10 and download the worksheet 10. There’s just one exercise. It’s ‘Chandelier’ lyrics with gaps. Play the song, listen to the lyrics and try to complete the gaps. Later, sing along with Sia, without glimpsing at the text.

I promised you a list of artists Sia wrote or co-wrote songs for:

  1. Beyonce ‘Pretty Hurts’ ‘Standing On The Sun’ and many more.
  2. Britney Spears ‘Perfume’ and many more.
  3. Kylie Minogue, among many titles: ‘Kiss me once’
  4. Katy Perry, for example: ‘Double Rainbow’
  5. Maroon 5 ‘My Heart is Open’
  6. Christina Aguilera, a few titles, among them: ‘Blank Page’
  7. Shakira ‘Chasing Shadows’, ‘Try Everything’ and others.
  8. Rihanna, for example: ‘Diamonds’, we all know this song, right?
  9. Jennifer Lopez 
  10. Celine Dion
  11. Kelly Rowland
  12. Will Young
  13. Rita Ora


What do you think of this song? What have you learned in this episode? Please, let me know what you think! I need feedback, so please, please contact me, I know you’re still here, but I don’t know you. I know you listen because I see the numbers on the website. Let me know who you are! I’m curious.

Teacherola.com/10, there you’ll find full transcript and the worksheets.

If you think someone you know could learn something from this episode, or just likes Sia’s music tell him or her about it.

Next episode is a grammar point. What’s the difference between ‘so’ and ‘such’, how to use them correctly. Be here, on Wednesday, I’ll be here for sure. Have a great day, great week. Happy learning! Bye bye.