By Cassie Porter
Although independent pop star Ellie Goulding was slammed with accolades in her native Britain as her debut album “Lights” premiered at No. 1 on the U.K. album chart, she found little attention throughout the American market.
In a brilliant attempt to gain a similar fan base in the United States, this British unknown somehow found herself on stage with “Saturday Night Live” in the summer, performing the title track “Lights” and Elton John’s “Your Song.” Her performance was flawless and distinct, and her singles “Guns and Horses,” “Starry Eyed” and “Lights” were being featured on radio stations nation-wide and holding spots on various television series like “90210,” “Drop Dead Diva” and “The Vampire Diaries.”
In a market dominated by entertainers like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, Goulding distinguishes herself as an artist by partnering her clever lyrics and folk tendencies with the big pop style.
Although she doesn’t have the same big voice as colleagues like Perry or Kelly Clarkson, there is something particularly distinct and captivating about the way she delivers her hooks and lyrics.
The New York Times described the album as “a happy car crash of signifiers: part electro-pop, part soul, part blues, part indie rock and part folk.”
Pitchfork also reviewed the album, stating, “‘Lights’ feels remarkably uncontrived, cantering across genres, following personal whims and visions rather than marketing agendas.”
Goulding anchors her songs with her acoustic guitar, a tendency that is driven from her love for folk music, and the album certainly creates a dance-till-you-drop experience. It is no surprise that the album drew fans from multiple markets that were looking to reconcile hooks and dance beats with lyrics that appeal to their intelligence.
Despite her surprising performance on SNL, her radio and TV spots and overall English charm, her success in America ultimately seems disappointing thus far. Her songs are being heard, but her name does not compete with other colleagues like Gaga or Perry. Her repertoire, however, is strong and still growing, and there is a lot to expect of her future in the industry.
In the meantime, Goulding’s debut, “Lights,” has a warmth to it that remains unmatched by other pop releases that will please devoted listeners and pop critics in a multitude of ways. It will make a great addition to any collection.