Ellie Goulding used to be one of my two “current” artists. (For those who don’t know, I generally only get really into two bands or artists at once. It used to be Ellie Goulding and Rise Against in my mid teenage years.) That’s because Ellie used to be a good artist. Actually, she might still be a good artist, but she seems to want to hide her talent.
What do I mean? Well, consider her new album, appropriately named Delirium. It sold about one-quarter what her previous album, Halcyon did in its first year.
I’m going to tell you why, so don’t worry.
See, Ellie decided to take a different route with her music this time. She decided to let her writers do more of the work. I can’t seem to find the quote, and it’s been removed from Wikipedia. But this is the problem with the album. It’s only a fraction of Ellie Goulding. It feels about as shallow as a Calvin Harris album, really.
Having writers isn’t a bad thing. The number one artist of all time had writers too. Michael Jackson really only came up with beats, chorus, hooks, and a lot of the verses. Yeah, he did a lot of the work, and the writers just built on it.
I think Ellie Goulding used to be the same way, she had writers for her first two albums and things were fine.
So, let’s dive right in to Delirium.
Delirium is a long album, sixteen tracks, and then more if you get the Deluxe version. I’ve listened to it all, many times. I actually liked this album a lot for about a month. Then, I put it down, and never returned to it.
Delirium neither brings anything new to the pop table, nor does it do anything that’s already been done particularly well. There are a few good tracks though. Namely:
- Something in the Way You Move
- Lost and Found
That’s a clean 5/21. I’ll give her some runner-ups for good measure, Keep On Dancin’, Around U, We Can’t Move to This, Holding On For Life, I Do What I Love, and Outside, even though it’s not new to this album and is really Calvin Harris’s song.
So, 11/21. 52%. The thing is, Goulding could have cut the fat, axed the ten or so weak entries and left with a strong eleven song album. But instead, we get a lot of bloat that sounds like everything else we’ve been listening out of the top 40 for the last half decade.
Let’s start at the beginning with Delirium into Aftertaste. I think starting an album with a cool intro track is awesome. Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance did it, Icon for Hire’s Scripted did it, and so did Halford’s Crucible.
Actually, I’ve never seen a non-rock album with a short intro track, so props to Ellie. It’s actually great for the album listener like myself. If I’m feeling it, I can let it play, but if I just want to get to the music, I can skip forward to Aftertaste.
Aftertaste is a great song actually comparing a break up to an after taste. Something in the Way You Move was actually a single, and it keeps with Ellie’s habit of writing positive sounding songs that are both not at all positive in nature, and also a bit cryptic. Lost and Found follows up too, sounding almost like a song right out of her first album, just a little tune up. Paradise is a very calm and mature sounding song, that also contains a lot of strife.
In fact, give me a second. Ten. Ten of her songs are about break ups. That’s probably why I got so bored with it, she just sings about the same thing over and over! The Greatest and Army are basically the same song!
But before I dive into the bad, we’ll talk about Devotion. Again, Ellie does what she proves she’s good at with Lights. She combines folk and electronic, opening with an acoustic intro. Devotion is a mystical, light and engrossing song. It seems to have been written in the same vein as Beating Heart, my favourite Ellie Goulding song. This album is almost worth buying just for this track. Almost.
I now will explain exactly why Delirium is the only Ellie Goulding album I don’t own.
Plain and simple, Delirium is shallow. There’s no heart in it, aside from three or four tracks. It’s a little better than the empty albums that Calvin Harris pumps out, but it still feels very surface level. Not once does Ellie touch on an interesting or unique topic. Consider the unique track, The Writer, or even Human from Bright Lights. Or even the brooding and wrathful Don’t Say a Word from Halcyon. I hadn’t heard anything like it before! But more on those after.
Delirium is like most cheap pop. It’s front loaded, you get the initial thrill but then are quickly left bored, and maybe a little regretful. Or, in my case, disappointed. With Delirium, Ellie Goulding intentionally went for a pure pop album complete with writers, and sold her soul to capitalism.
See, that’s really what bugs me about Ellie. She’s always been a little bit vain. I hope that the hundreds of thousands of lost sales is a wake-up call, because I used to like her music.
Why don’t we explore her previous albums for a bit?
I first encountered Ellie Goulding in a Battlefield 3 YouTube video by Birgirpall. I can’t find it anymore, but the song itself was a Drum and Bass remix of Starry Eyed. I loved it. I found it, ripped it and listened to it over and over on my Walkman mp3 player.
Then, I delved deeper into the artist, this Ellie Goulding. It wasn’t long before I owned Lights, but I had already listened to all of her songs. Where were the rest of them? So, I had to return to the CD store and pick up Bright Lights too.
During this time, Ellie was trying to play herself off as some generic folk or indie pop artist. Really, she’s neither. I’m sure it was some sort of producer thing.
This album is very consistent. There were very few songs that I didn’t like, but also very few that I really loved. Of course I loved my first encounter’s original version, Starry Eyed, but there were more too. In fact, Starry Eyed wasn’t even my favourite track. Here’s a list of the cream of the crop from Bright Lights.
- Starry Eyed
- Under the Sheets
- Lights (of course)
- Little Dreams
- Believe Me
To make my point here, compare:
Fight fires in your best clothes,
Touch skin with your eyes closed
Chase thunder with the volume down
Pack a suitcase, wander to the next town
But tonight I’m gonna lose it all
Playing with fire, I was the first to fall
Heart is sinking like a cannonball
Baby kill it, what’re you waiting for?
Can you guess which song is from which album? The first is I’ll Hold My Breath from Lights, and the second, Something in the Way You Move from Delirium. Both definitely read like Ellie Goulding, but one actually feels like a work of art.
Finally, I’ll talk of my favourite track. Even now, about four years later, this song still rings feverishly in my ears. Rolling bass, and a frantic intro played on strings makes it clear, this song is a little off. It’s a real experience, listening to it, and I used to do it on repeat. “So will take away my feeling, I will be an Animal.”
As you can see, the list of good tracks is far longer than Delirium. Better yet, there were only a couple that I actually disliked! I got bored of Guns and Horses and the Writer and I Wish I Stayed were a little too wispy for me. That leaves 14/17. That’s 82% of the album that was great!
Now, Ellie Goulding has hit her teenage angst phase. At the age of twenty-five. She’s dressing in leather and showing off her body! Oh my! No longer is Ellie playing the innocent folk girl, but it seems she’s pushed a little too far the other way.
Goulding was likely still struggling with her image. It’s not bad, she’s only on her second album, right? I mean, it took Judas Priest six years and five albums to discover that leather and studs were the way to go. (Although to great effect, they’re hailed as the first rock band to use the leather look.)
Looks aside, the album is also pretty edgy. It’s a dark and moody album, and it seems that Goulding has dug really deep into herself. Many of the tracks are striking and personal. I actually feel cold listening to it.
From the original version, I really only liked the opening track, but I also didn’t mind My Blood, Halcyon, Figure 8, and Atlantis. The real fun begins with the Deluxe album. Halcyon Days must have been made little while later. The music all fits, but it feels like it’s coming from a different, more positive place.
If you’re going to get Halcyon, get the deluxe Halcyon Days. Here’s what I liked!
- Don’t Say a Word
- In My City
- Without Your Love
- Goodness Gracious (It’s so cheesy, but I love it)
- You My Everything (Grammar my everything, but I’ll give it a pass.)
- Stay Awake
Quite a good collection, only two of which are on the original. So, 14/23, or 61%. Hmm. Well, I do admit that this album wasn’t really my cup of tea, although these numbers do bode poorly for the next album. I’m sure other’s liked more than two of the original tracks. Watch, let’s cut out the originals out of the calculation, including the two I enjoyed. Also, note that I cut the covers and alternate versions. 8/10, or 80%. See, that’s pretty good.
It was these bonus tracks that excited me for her third album. The smash hits from disc all had a couple extra writers on them. I thought, hey! If her next album is like these three tracks, it’ll be amazing! I thought that these newer songs were like a preview of what was coming. And I was dead wrong.
So, Ritual, In My City, and Without Your Love are three very different songs with two things in common. First, they are clearly Ellie’s work. Second, they sound amazing. In My City is wistful and dreamy, and the mystical drums in Without Your Love take me to a whole other place.
I promised to get to Don’t Say a Word, and so here we go. The song is still my definitive new sound system bass test, alongside Between the Hammer and the Anvil. If I can’t feel the rolling base, or hear the depth of it all, it’s not good enough! Don’t Say a Word does one of my favourite things. It has a slow brooding intro that rewards the patient listener with a thunderous, layered climax. It took me a few listens to realize just how many layers this piece has! Check it out if you haven’t.
Finally, three of these songs, You My Everything, Stay Awake, and Flashlight, are clearly Drum and Bass. Ellie has an amazing voice for DnB and other electronic music. I mean, just listen to Outside by Calvin Harris, or even better Fall into the Sky by Zedd! Honestly, I think her next album should be a little more electronic. Take some tips from Zedd haha.
It seems that Ellie Goulding has been steadily dropping in quality. Also, she appears to have abandoned shirts, so she might still be in the teenager stage.
- Lights – 82%
- Halcyon – 61%
- Delirium – 52%
Now, that’s just a measure of how much of the album’s tracks were really good. Personally, I think that despite disliking a majority of Halcyon, it was her best album. It felt like we had a clear window into Ellie Goudling and her emotions, whereas with Lights it was sort of an act, and Delirium, it was sort of not really Ellie Goulding.
I hope you enjoyed this, we’ll have to do it again some time.
Looks like she went on a writing and dating hiatus. Most artists love their art and tend to avoid breaks. Not sure what to think of her nowadays, really.
Also, expect a lot more music content on the blog. Music is my primary source of literary inspiration, it’s about time it made it to my blog.
What I am about to reveal may shock you.
Ellie Goulding is also a proud member of the Illuminati. In fact, I’ve gotten inside information from the Quibbler that the Illuminati aren’t too happy with how much she talks about triangles.
Don’t believe me? Check out this excerpt from one of her earlier works, the song I Wish I Stayed (no doubt talking about staying at one of the lavish cult hideouts.)
Why can’t we speak another language, one we all agree on?
This opening line is clearly talking about the “one language, one currency” New World Order! Appalling! But wait, there’s more.
Patterns all arranged in my background
It’s pillars and posts keeping this country on form
Patterns in her background? Surely her parents were Illuminati too. They believe that they are the pillars keeping the country on form. Maybe they are and we are none the wiser?
Letters were all sent with no addresses so that people can’t discover
We’re always undercover
Do I even have to explain this?
Ellie Goulding also covered a song called Tessallatem further proving her love for the enigmatic triangles.
Triangles are my favorite shape
Three points where two lines meet
What do you think? Is Ellie Goulding part of the Illuminati? Perhaps the Masons? Or maybe you just think she’s just obsessed with three sided shapes?