Over the course of two critically acclaimed albums Ellie Goulding has established herself as one of today's top pop singer-songwriters. Her distinctive sound incorporates elements of pop, folk, and electronic dance music. Key production collaborators include Starsmith, Jim Eliot of electropop duo Kish Mauve, and Justin Parker, best known for his work with Lana Del Rey.
Ellie Goulding's first single from her second album Halcyon is a masterful slice of electropop. In a technical sense it is a breakup song, but the powerful, rousing "I know it's gonna be alright!" leaves the focus on anything but the breakup itself. Production assistance from Jim Eliot of Kish Mauve gives the song the musical heft to match the power in the words. "Anything Could Happen" was a top 5 pop hit in the UK and a #1 dance smash in the US. It was also the song given credit for a major game change by the girl group Fifth Harmony on the second season of X Factor in the US.
"Lights," the song which was the source of Ellie Goulding's US pop breakthrough, was not included on the first UK version of the album of the same name. It was later included on the repackaging of the collection titled Bright Lights in the UK and simply Lights in the US. The song was inspired by Ellie Goulding's own childhood fear of the darkness. It effectively juxtaposes dark lyrics with a more upbeat sound to the music and vocals. "Lights" reached #2 on the US pop singles chart after a more than 30 week chart climb.
The intimate piano ballad "I Know You Care" is a collaboration with producer and songwriter Justin Parker who is best known for his work with Lana Del Rey on "Video Games." Lyrically it is a powerful evocation of thoughts in the wreckage of the end of a love relationship. Ellie Goulding's resonant vocals provide a warmth that deepens the impact of the song.
With an uptempo beat and skittering sound effects, "Guns and Horses" was the sparkling the third single from Ellie Goulding's debut album Lights. The words tell the tale of a romance that doesn't quite connect despite the protagonist's determination to "do it all for you."
5. "The Writer"
"The Writer" is a huge, sweeping rush of a love song. Ellie Goulding says it is one of her most personal and emotional songs she has ever written. Released as the fourth single from the initial UK version of the album Lights, it became a top 20 pop hit single in the UK.
For "Dead In the Water," Ellie Goulding strips her sound and emotions bare. A track from Halcyon, her second studio album, it is the only standard track on the collection created with Starsmith, her primary collaborator on the entire first album Lights. Huge washes of electronic sound surround the emotional vocals.
7. "Your Song"
Ellie Goulding covered Elton John's classic "Your Song," and it provided the soundtrack for a John Lewis department store TV ad campaign in late 2010. The result was a #2 pop smash for Ellie Goulding in the UK. She was subsequently invited to perform "Your Song" for the first dance at the wedding reception of the UK's Prince William and Kate Middleton.
9. "Figure 8"
10. "Starry Eyed"
Released as the second single from the album Lights in the UK, "Starry Eyed" went to #4 on the UK pop singles chart. Ellie Goulding has said she wrote "Starry Eyed" as an alternative to most of the sad and emotional songs she writes. It is meant to celebrate the concept of letting go in whatever way people choose.