This week’s “Video Find of the Week” features Madilyn Paige performing a rousing cover of “The Greatest” by Australian singer, songwriter and video music director, Sia. The song, published on her YouTube channel on 30 September 2016, was produced by Royal Fire Music Group. Jeremy Christensen accompanies her on the piano, and Ammon Chung of OKKAH music accompanies her on the viola.
The Backstory of the Song
Staying strong and not giving up despite life’s adversities is the message that Sia seems to convey with this song. Per various sources, the video is a solemn tribute to the 49 fallen victims of the Pulse Nightclub, a popular venue for the LGBTQ community, shooting which took place in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016.
Per the Huffington Post, “The clip starts on a black screen with the words #WEAREYOURCHILDREN printed across. Then, we see a crying [Maddie] Ziegler wiping paint under her eyes as if crying rainbow tears, or perhaps applying war paint for battle. A large group of kids lies on the ground below her, motionless, and she begins screaming (though we don’t hear her), urging the kids to get up.” Once the music starts, the group (48 children/dancers with Maddie as the leader) begin moving in unison. Attitude magazine, a British gay lifestyle magazine, reports that the 49 dancers represent the 49 victims of what has become deemed as the deadliest mass shooting in America’s history.
Per People.com, “In one of the final scenes of the clip, Ziegler, and the young troupe are dancing joyfully in a club-like room with rainbow disco lights before all the young performers fall to the ground at once, exposing what appear to be bullet holes in the wall behind them.” Just before that happens, Sia is singing, “I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive. I’m free to be the greatest here tonight. The greatest, the greatest. The greatest alive, the greatest, the greatest alive.”
Sia has not officially spoken about the meaning behind the video, but the Huffington Post records that “it’s hard not to draw those parallels.” One of the dancers, a young man named Matt Moseley, is reported to have shared a picture on Instagram, writing, “Humbled to be a part of this video . . . 49 beautiful lives lost. This is for you.” A woman, Kerrynton Jones also shared a behind-the-scenes photo, writing, “Much love going to all the Orlando victims.”
Madilyn Paige’s Dynamic Performance and Interpretation
Madilyn Paige, a singer-songwriter from Provo, Utah, delivers a powerful “knockout punch” with her amazing vocals, painting the portrait of a fighter in the ring of life that refuses to give up but fights on with every ounce of stamina that he has left within himself. Each of us is the fighter as we face the challenges of day-to-life. Like the words of the pre-chorus, we must tell ourselves, “Don’t give up, I won’t give up. Don’t give up, no, no, no. Don’t give up; I won’t give up. Don’t give up, no, no, no.”