I adore Ellie Goulding and I always have done. Even when I was only listening to hip hop music as I feverishly tried to finish my dissertation, Golding was the only non-rapper I gave any time to and she is a singer I return to again and again. Music that is haunting and wistful, energizing and pulsating; Ellie Goulding manages to make music that molds itself around you and fits into gaps you didn’t know you had.
And, speaking of hip hop, listen to the Ellie Goulding and Angel Haze remix of “Life Round Here”, it’s lush. It’s better than the original and I happen to love the original. Goulding actually has a history of participating in diverse collaborations including featuring on a re-recording of “Do They Know it’s Christmas?”. Goulding’s best features are when the artists bounce off each other and complement each other’s styles and talents: Kygo, Calvin Harris, Swae Lee, Juice WRLD, even Skrillex, all have made excellent music with Goulding.
Goulding has a professional history that’s littered with successes that go beyond the release of award-winning records and exciting collaborations: she has had songs on film soundtracks including Kingsmen Secret Service (“Heavy Crown” by Iggy Azalea feat. Ellie Goulding), Divergent (various tracks including “Tris”, “Beating Heart” and “Dead in the Water”) and of course, Fifty Shades of Grey (“Love Me Like You Do”). In fact, Fifty Shades of Grey had an amazing soundtrack which really elevated the film in my opinion- I’m thinking about Beyoncé, Sia and especially The Weeknd… But that’s another article for another day.
Not to mention, the pinnacle of British recording artist achievement, the very best accolade a singer could hope to achieve, the creme de la creme of professional success in the music world: Goulding had a song on the John Lewis Christmas advert back in 2010 (a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”). Undoubtedly, Ellie Goulding is a remarkable and talented singer, she reinvents herself with every new release, constantly challenging the bar she has previously set herself, and yet she never seems to lose sight of her initial vibe and the qualities that make her so magnetic. Here are Ellie Goulding’s best records ranked.
I am going Halcyon and Halycon days as one because the reissue is no better or worse than the original. Although it does bring us Tesselate which is a tune. Halcyon is Ellie Goulding’s best album hands down because it doesn’t seem to pander to the mainstream cookie-cutter pop star audio aesthetic, it’s still moody and edgy but it contains some of her best songs; full of bassy rhythms and synthetic (in a good way) instrumentals.
This album truly marked a return for Goulding after the remarkable Lights and Bright Lights and here, Goulding asserts herself as a very successful and talented musician who is making music that doesn’t just sound good, it feels good when the bass rumbles through your speaker.
Delirium is the record that I feel the most personal affection and nostalgia for, so please notice that I haven’t listed it at the top of the list, even though it is top of my own personal list. I am an impartial reporter!
Anyway, first of all, the cover to this album is clearly JLo inspired which is a definite plus point for me. Secondly, the production on the record is brilliant. The tracks are varied and polished and although it has a more dancey vibe than Goulding’s other records, I actually do think it’s still a very versatile album. It still carries that moody angsty-ness that we recognize from Halcyon but in this guise, it’s mysterious and sexy rather than introspective.
Again, two records — Lights and Bright Lights — are too similar to separate. Why oh why did Goulding do two re-releases when she could have put out a separate EP? We’ll never know. Anyway, you all know this album surely, it is the OG Goulding record. Its where “Starry Eyed” came from! and “Human”! and then we got “Lights” too when Bright Lights came out! These songs are really melodic, really harmonious and they show off Goulding’s brilliant musical talent, but they aren’t as vibey as her later work and there is definitely something missing. I think listening to Lights/Bright Lights as a stand-alone record would be better really, because when you come to it after Delirium and Halcyon it’s very obvious that she has made a lot of progress since.
4. Brightest Blue
In fairness, part of the reason why 2020’s Brightest Blue is at the bottom is that I’ve not listened to it as much as Goulding’s other work. But another reason is because I think it falls flat in comparison. For me, it’s generic and formulaic, and it lacks the je ne sais quoi that is present in her older records. Brightest Blue is still good, it’s just not AS good as Halcyon, Lights and Delirium.