The Making Or Breaking Of Ellie Goulding

Sean Ward

Design type pokemon, often found in tall grass at festivals covered in mud and neon paint. A strong obsession with tea, cocktails and Kate Bush. Sharing musical nuggets of goodness each week. @Sean_Ward93

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I wanted to write a piece on the pop enigma that is Ellie Goulding. The songstress was propelled to fame in 2010 when she won the Brits’ Critics’ Choice Award and simultaneously topped the BBC Sound Of poll. The only music she had released at the time was a delicate introductory EP with an angelic acoustic version of ‘Wish I Stayed’. I remember hearing her unusual tones and confused lyrics and building a quiet confidence for this emerging star.

Her debut album Lights went straight to number one, although for me I found the LP quite mediocre. She experimented with folk and pop throughout, whilst also hinting at a love for electro with the infectious ‘Salt Skin’ and bonus title track. Mega hit ‘Starry Eyed’ took Ellie to the top of festival line ups and she has honed her live show since. The slushy cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ turned her into a household name in the UK, so she hopped over the Atlantic to try her luck there. Goulding’s first attempt to crack America was lacklustre, mainly due to the fact she didn’t have the bravado of her predecessors Adele or Florence and her mighty machine. Yet a few months later, the sleeper hit ‘Lights’ took the US by storm, topped the end of year chart and sold four million copies. Bizarre.

Second album Halcyon was released late last year and was so much more developed than the debut. A clear and direct route into experimental electro with a shining finish and that unique vocal, a perfect album with huge ready made anthems such as ‘Explosions’ and ‘Figure 8’. So what happens? It fails to chart at number one and Ellie is shunned by the 2013 Brit Awards, oh. Perhaps it was simply too much of an alternative step away from the safety of those ‘Guns & Horses’, but have no fear, DJ Calvin Harris was here to save the day! A collaboration on the deluxe edition entitled ‘I Need Love’ charted at number 4 and her management were happy again as Ellie continued to tear through America with a string of sold out shows.

They realised Goulding’s vocal suits the dance genre well so her next single will be ‘Burn’, a bland and unimaginative club banger which may give Ellie her first UK number one. Personally, I felt Ellie had more artistic and creative integrity so this track was a real disappointment. It marks the first release of the ‘Halcyon Days’ repackage which is due to be released at the end of August and will feature collaborations with DJ Fresh and Madeon. This will be the make or break of Goulding, hopefully these tracks will simply enhance the theme and feel of ‘Halcyon’. My fear is that they will be lazily written and over produced dance ‘hits’ which will push album sales and alienate older fans to favour Capital FM listeners. Expect an extensive review at release of complete elation or total disappointment. Anything could happen. See what I did there?