Sia is the First Woman Over 40 to Top the Billboard Hot 100 in 16 Years
by Chad Taylor
In an industry increasingly dominated by youth, Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” finally made number one, a position that hasn’t been held by a woman over 40 since Madonna.
Increasingly, music is a young person’s game. One look at any popular Billboard chart will show you an industry dominated by people who don’t remember the ’80s. But you’ll also see Sia, who just became the first female over 40 to top the Billboard Hot 100 in 16 years.
The Australian singer has always been an incredibly talented and prolific songwriter. She wrote Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in under 15 minutes and is behind a bunch of other songs you probably didn’t know about either. But in recent years, it’s been her work as a performer that has thrust her into the spotlight.
Of course, fame takes time. Sia’s first three albums saw only minor successes. But by 2008’s Some People Have Real Problems and 2010’s We Are Born, Sia started to gather a modest international following. Next, 1,000 Forms of Fear was a massive global success. But it is her last album This is Acting and hit single “Cheap Thrills” that launched the Aussie to the top of the charts, making her the first female over 40 to do so since Madonna in 2000 with “Music.”
The chart-topping single is a win for experienced performers everywhere, but it also serves as hard-earned validation for an artist who has seen her share of trials.
Sia spent nearly a decade bouncing around London, performing on other band’s albums and releasing solo material to relatively little success. At the same time, she was battling a slew of inner demons, including battles with alcohol and drug abuse that cut short a planned U.S. tour in 2005.
But now Sia, who calls her newest addiction “Workaholism,” is operating at the top of her game, with a creative output that’s among the largest and highest quality in the world right now. And, just in case she decides to keep going, Cher was the last female over 50 to top the Hot 100, back in 1999.