Artist Spotlight: Ellie Goulding

Before I post a new Artist Spotlight (you’ll really love this one), another reminder to VOTE in Harmony Avenue’s Best Original Movie Song contest. So far there’s only 2 votes on the poll…so yeah, we need just a few more votes. The more, the merrier! Make sure your favorite song doesn’t go unrepresented.

Now, we turn the artist spotlight onto the UK’s own…

Ellie Goulding!

Believe it or not, it wasn’t love at first sight between me and Ellie’s music. The first time I was introduced to it was one late night watching “Later…with Jools Holland” (a popular weekly music show in Great Britain, hosted by the charming Jools Holland, that features a lot of great music acts each week), which airs on a random cable channel called Ovation here in the States. Ellie sang a song of hers called “Under The Sheets,” and while I was thought it was OK (and interesting how she kind of played the drums in her performance), it didn’t make too much of an impression on my tired soul that night, and I didn’t really investigate her music any further.

Fast forward to a few months later where I was listening to music on iTunes one night, and I had my little “Ping sidebar” thing turned on, so as I listened, various music suggestions and posts from artists I “follow” on it were coming up accordingly. I’m pretty sure I was listening to Lucy Schwartz (interestingly enough, the subject of a previous Artist Spotlight here on Harmony Avenue), because her feed came up, and she had posted something about how she loved a song called “Starry Eyed”…by none other than Ellie Goulding. Since it’s iTunes and all, there was a button right there to listen to a 90-second clip of the song, so I decided to try it out, since Ellie’s name sounded familiar. I listened to it…and the rest is history. I simply HAD to check out more of Ellie’s music. (More proof why Lucy Schwartz rocks, btw. :)) The song that started it all, right here:

It’s an energetic, beautiful, addicting song, and rather than detract from it, its very glossy production really brings it to life, I think. The parts where Ellie sings “next thing, we’re touching” are my favorites. For some reason, the way she sings that line, and the harmonies around it…it always gets me.

Ellie’s music is somewhat unclassifiable, though a lot of people have used the “folktronica” label for it, which I think kind of fits. It’s very melodic, beautifully written music, but it’s produced under a more beat-driven lens, which makes it very unique and engaging. Her music takes the best of both worlds and marries them together into something all her own. You can see similarities to artists like Florence + The Machine, Imogen Heap, and Robyn here and there, just to name a few…but in the end, it’s something undeniably fresh. Here’s a lovely, sweeping ballad called “The Writer” from Ellie’s debut album:

While her music is layered and, well, shiny, Ellie can also cut it in a more stripped-down, acoustic setting. A prime example is her drop-dead gorgeous cover of Elton John’s classic “Your Song.” (The bridge is quite possibly one of the most beautiful musical moments I have ever heard.) It really turns the song on its ear and brings a haunting, breahtaking new dimension to it:

She also does brilliantly in a live setting. Her voice is soft and fragile and times, but also full of power. Here’s a stunning cover of a Rihanna song that I actually kind of discovered just now, while looking for a good example of her live performing skills. (You learn something new every day! :)) Sorry the video quality isn’t completely amazing, but at least it’s easily available on the Internet. That’s a plus.

And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete with a little irony. Here are the studio versions of the two songs Ellie sang that night on Jools Holland…that have turned out to be two of my favorite cuts on her album. Speaking of her album…more on that in a second. But first, here are “Guns and Horses” and “Under the Sheets” (apologies for the ad that may come up on the video):

And, to close things off, had I posted this a month or two ago, I would have had to tell you readers that live in America that Ellie’s album wasn’t available anywhere here (well, at least not anywhere like iTunes or whatnot). Now I don’t have to! A special US edition of her debut album, “Lights,” complete with a few bonus tracks that weren’t on her original UK release, came out here in the States back on March 8th! Even better, Ellie’s offering a free full preview of the album on YouTube, so you can try before you buy! (I promise I’m not a corporate shill…I just love her music and want as many people to love/support it as possible. Promise. :)) I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it here, though it may be easier for you to view/listen to it directly on YouTube. Enjoy the music! (And be sure to check it out sooner rather than later. I have no idea if Ellie’s label will keep it up for too long or not.) (Update: The album preview is no longer available.)

So that’s the outstanding Ellie Goulding for you. Remember to vote in the Best Original Song contest, and I’ll see you in a day or two with another new post! Thanks for reading.

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