Single Review: Ellie Goulding – ‘Lights’

After being hyped to the Heavens above, you do wonder what all the fuss about Ellie Goulding is/was. She’s had probably one decent song – aside from her opinion-splitting cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. She’s also a very mediocre vocalist with very mediocre tunes and received, in relation to the hype she got from the BBC, a very mediocre fraction of the success she was expected to have.

Considering Ellie’s been around for a whole album’s promotional campaign, the fact she’s only actually released one Top 10 hit from her first album must be quite disappointing. The re-release of ‘Lights’, ‘Bright Lights’, saw the addition of the John Lewis festive cash-in single – a simplified cover of Elton’s ‘Your Song’ and the title track, ‘Lights’. Originally slated as the first release from ‘Bright Lights’, it was put aside for the festive season and ‘Your Song’ took it’s place, giving Ellie her highest charting single, at #2.

In further research, it should be noted that ‘Lights’ isn’t an entirely new track either. Much rather, a remix of the iTunes bonus track the came with the digital download of the Ellie’s first album, ‘Lights’. And now that it’s been revamped to be “better and more current-sounding”, ‘Lights’, for some reason, still doesn’t deliver many of the goods her hype promised us.

First off, it might sound very current: Synths? Check. Danceable beat? Check-ish. Catchy chorus? Check. However, something is missing. I’m not entirely sure but something just doesn’t convince me that the song is coming across as an “instant single” sort of release instead of a “I hope this will boost album figures” release.

It takes a while to grow on you, and if your not a fan of Ellie’s very distinct vocals then this isn’t going to win you over. And when you pick it apart, it is in fact a good example of pop music over-thought. There’s no real instrumental melody – just some blips and bleeps that try and invent some kind of memorable refrain but end up tripping over their own studio-enhanced reverberations, losing any catchiness in the process. And when you’ve listened to it enough, and you can mentally strip away the car crash of a production, there remains a typical, very basic, four-chord structure.

I just don’t feel ‘Lights’ is an appropriate single. It doesn’t seem to slot anywhere within the commercial sector of music, but then again, speaking from the point of view of someone who’s no stranger to underground artists, it doesn’t easily slot into that category either, even though “underground market” is a huge generalisation.

Maybe it’s because the song isn’t particularly good? Possibly. But anyhoo, here’s the video:

Whilst the song isn’t going to be setting the charts alight, it is very important that we recognise and appreciate the power of pop music videos, ladies and gents, and ultimately, how easy it is for that power to immediately sexify something that, on it’s own, is not particularly sexy e.g. – Ellie Goulding’s new video for new single, ‘Lights’. In this concoction of music, lights and CGI, Ellie demonstrates how to sexify a tambourine. Just look at the way she masterfully waves it about, shaking it occasionally to resonate some audio goodness, and generally making it look like the ultimate sexy lady’s hand-tool. Masterful. Consider your tambourine-waving skills officially recognised and appreciated, Ellie.

On a more serious note, that is one cheap looking video, isn’t it? The CGI looks like it was ripped from a computer from the 70’s. What happened to the sales from ‘Your Song’? Must’ve all gone to royalties and John Lewis…

‘Lights’ is no ‘Starry Eyed’ or ‘Under The Sheets’, put it that way, and despite the fact I absolutely loathe the former, it’s production marvel merited respect. ‘Lights’ however, just sounds a bit lazy and uninventive. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t do much for the audio canals and serves as a stolid follow-up to some of her past releases. It once again leaves a very dissatisfied feeling that Ellie’s hype around the end of 2009 was worth absolutely nothing.

Rating: 3.0 STARS

Download: March 13, 2011 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Bright Lights’

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