On third album Delirium, Ellie Goulding captures the first flush of new love

Ethereal British singer and multi-instrumentalist has gone from EDM chanteuse to grandiose balladeer – and has cracked America thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2015, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2015, 6:01pm

Ellie Goulding wrote one of the biggest hits of her career for Fifty Shades of Grey, but she’s actually never seen the S&M romance.

“I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to watch it. I’m sure I will,” says Goulding, 28, whose Love Me Like You Do appears in the film. “It’s one of those movies you can’t really watch on an aeroplane. Certainly if people recognised me, I’d get a bit embarrassed watching certain scenes.”

Love Me, which Goulding had never planned to release as a single, took off on its own from the Fifty Shades soundtrack – selling 2.5 million downloads to date, according to Nielsen Music. The grandiose ballad is now included on Goulding’s third album Delirium, which was released last Friday, in which the dance music darling proves her mettle as a pop star.

Goulding – who performed in Hong Kong in August last year – started writing Delirium shortly after the release of second album Halcyon in 2012, but “the songs were still quite sad and from a dark place”, she says. That changed when she went to Los Angeles last year and hit the studio with top-notch producers “who wanted something to come out that hadn’t before”.

Working with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (the exotic Keep On Dancin’), Sia collaborator Greg Kurstin (synth anthem Something in the Way You Move) and UK dance duo Disclosure (bonus track Heal), Goulding credits the album’s overarching euphoria in part to her boyfriend, McFly bassist Dougie Poynter, whom she started dating last year. “When you start an album around the time of a new relationship, that makes a huge difference, because you’re still in that amazing phase of being completely in love and that reflects in the songs.”

Swedish super-producer Max Martin also puts his stamp on a handful of Delirium tracks, including Codes, Army and lead single On My Mind, downloaded 310,000 times to date. Her desire for the song was to “come out with something very bold”, Goulding says. “I’m obsessed with this idea of someone in your past resonating really strongly with someone in your present, and still having an effect on you for some reason.”

People have speculated that Mind was written as a response to ex-flame Ed Sheeran’s hit Don’t – an idea Goulding has since dismissed, although she isn’t bothered if fans want to believe it.

“If I were to consider every single lyric in every one of my songs, I would spend most of my life panicking and worrying about things,” she says. “I keep to myself and I’m a pretty private person, but then my songs are really a way for me to be able channel it. It’s worth writing the songs if it makes you feel better. I know some people do yoga to feel better, but I write songs.”

Since crossing over stateside with breakout single Lights in 2012, the ethereal singer says she feels “a bit wiser than I was”. Back then, she coped with her sudden fame and constant touring through heavy drinking, but turned a corner when she met Poynter, who recovered from his own battles with alcohol and substance abuse.

“I was very naive and pretending to deal with it, but not actually dealing with it,” Goulding says. “It’s a very strange thing to be confronted with, but then you just learn how to deal with it. You know what’s going to happen, you know you’re going to get talked about, you know you’re going to get analysed and criticised and praised. All those things, you just take with a pinch of salt. You remember you’re doing it for you and you’ve got your friends.” Goulding’s high-profile friends include Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Calvin Harris.

With Delirium’s release, Goulding also gets introspective about her place in the pop music landscape, particularly in America. Just a few years ago, she was an EDM vocalist with hipster appeal and a side-shaved haircut that matched that of her boyfriend of the time, Skrillex. She embarks on her first US arena tour next spring, but it was just last year that she was playing theatres and festivals such as Coachella, despite a string of Top 40 smashes.

“I feel like in America, I’ve had bigger songs, but there’s no correlation between my success and how much I’ve been celebrated. I don’t know why that is,” she says. “In England, I’ve done so well with my music in the past few years and I feel like it’s quite special, but perhaps don’t feel that as much in America. I feel like people there still see me as an electronic artist, which is cool because I get to play amazing festivals and feature with amazing artists.

“Maybe this album is going to be the one that changes things. I don’t know.”

Tribune News Service