Ellie Goulding is an unlikely pop star.
Her public image is subdued, even self-effacing; her voice is a gorgeous, fragile wisp that would sound more at home at a coffee shop than layered over a bouncing synth track; her lyrics are imbued with an aching vulnerability that most singer-songwriters would kill for. But like some other sonic greats who have paired distinctive vocals with dance beats — like Björk or Siobhan Donaghy — Ellie’s music derives much of its power from its pop sound. Likable, accessible, and danceable, her work with producers like Starsmith, Biff Stannard, and Frankmusik makes her poetry radio-friendly.
Since bursting onto the scene with her debut single, “Under the Sheets” — released via uber-hip singles label Neon Gold — Ellie was the top breakthrough act in the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll and won the Critics’ Choice Award at the BRITs, a feat previously managed only by Adele. Her debut album, Lights, was released to commercial and critical acclaim, cementing Ellie’s position in the English cultural consciousness. But the re-release, Bright Lights, was even better, containing her sharpest work to date — collaborations with Fred Falke and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons took her glistening folk-dance to dramatic extremes.
Ellie has toured in the U.S. more than most English artists — we don’t usually get so lucky here in the States — and she’s just kicked off her latest stateside tour. Her evolution as a live artist has been an exhilarating thing to watch, as she’s become the kind of pop performer who genuinely lights up the stage with a rare ferocity. If she’s coming to your town, don’t miss her.
Wow–this came out of nowhere!
Behold: The video for Ellie Goulding‘s brand new Biff Stannard-produced single “Lights,” the title track (and one of my favorite songs) off of Bright Lights, the re-release of the singer’s brilliant 2010 debut.
As you can see, the confidence just keeps coming for the quirky UK songstress, who’s truly becoming more and more of a Proper Pop Star with each passing day.
Watch as Goulding tosses her hair, twirls her tambourine and bangs the drums while basking in…well, lights! Lights, lights and more lights everywhere, along with some very cool 360-degree camera work. Work them hips, girl!
Apart from the heartwarming clip for Goulding’s smash hit Christmas cover of Elton John‘s “Your Song,” this is probably the most gorgeous Goulding’s ever looked. Plus, there’s totally some shades of Kylie Minogue‘s “I Believe In You” happening here. Amazing!
A worthy video for a most deserving song. Here’s to hoping the track takes off worldwide!
Here we go again: The end of another year in music!
2010 may well be remembered as the Year of the Future (if not the Year of All Hearts–hint hint!): A year of fembots, androids, bionic women and time-traveling adventures deep into the 22nd century.
Space-age love stories and robo-dramatics colored a large portion of the year’s biggest releases in pop, no doubt a response to the reign of the machine on the pop charts as synth-pop productions continued to dominate the digital airwaves in 2010.
Below is the list of MuuMuse’s Top Albums of 2010, which was based on a variety of factors–from individual song and single goodness, to the complete album experience, to overall artistic integrity, to an album’s ability to ‘stick’ as the year progressed. Basically I’m trying to say that it’s a bit of a hot mess, but I tried my very best.
There’s also a rather controversial dishonorable mention prior to the Top 40 list that will likely blow my chances for that much coveted position as editor of Rolling Stone. DAMN IT.
Now…LET’S DO THIS.
From Sophie’s new-and-improved website:
The first single is released early April. It’s called `Bittersweet’ and with it I have once again collaborated with the lovely and very talented Freemasons. It’s a good introduction to the fourth album because, as with the majority of the record, it’s a song you can dance to. The new tracks feature collaborations with Calvin Harris, Metronomy, Cathy Dennis, Richard X and Ed Harcourt. It’s been a lovely experience to make this album and I am so looking forward to sharing it with you all.
As we’ve come to find out, Bextor recorded the track while undergoing a rare condition known as BPO, or Brilliant Producer Overload. The song was written by the Freemasons (“The One,” “Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)”), Richard Biff Stannard (“Love At First Sight,” “New York City Lights”) and Hannah Robinson (“Chewing Gum,” “Me and My Imagination”), according to her newest post.
I am beyond excited by the very possible chance that “Bittersweet” will consist of Sophie monotoning the word “Biii-tahhh-sweeet” over a thumping, sparkly Freemasons synthesized beat.
Furthermore, I am beyond ready to hear something that can be described as nothing less than ‘amazeballs.’
In case you haven’t already caught onto the many posts already written about the Dolly Rockers, otherwise known as the UK’s next up-and-coming girl group on the brink of debut, just remember this: Big voices, big personalities, and really, really big hair.
The Dolly Rockers are three young women on their way to super-stardom, and luckily enough, I got a chance to talk to Sophie earlier today before her photoshoot with the other Dollys for the Gay Times and News of the World. It was obviously glorious and–if possible–made me love the Dollys even more than I already do!
So go ahead and read on to hear about pervy managers, why “Gold Digger” isn’t coming out until the end of August, and the truth behind their “How To” YouTube videos. (Hint: THEY CAN’T REALLY WIRE A PLUG!)
If weâ€™re going to do it, you know you only get one chance. We want to do it properly.
Hey Sophie, how are you?
I am fine, thank you. How are you?
Iâ€™m great. My nameâ€™s Brad, I write for MuuMuse. Literally, Iâ€™m so excited, I kept telling everyone this week I was about to get Dolly Rockered. [LAUGHS]
Aww! [LAUGHS] Thank you!
Where are you right now? What are you doing?
Weâ€™re just getting for a photoshoot. Weâ€™re doing a photoshoot for the Gay Times in London.
Oh my God, are you in outrageous outfits right now?
[LAUGHS] Not yet. At the moment, Iâ€™ve got a big, like, hairdresserâ€™s gown on. Weâ€™ll be getting ready in like half an hour.
No, not really. It was really strange because we actually went into Radio 1 to interview with them, and it was all quite surreal. We didnâ€™tâ€”we didnâ€™t expect that. Iâ€™ve only actually heard it once myself but all my friends and family were texting me saying â€œWe can hear you on Radio 1!â€ In England weâ€™re had quite a bit of press, and weâ€™ve been doing the photoshoots and stuff. It hasnâ€™t really sunk in or anything yet, like we havenâ€™t seen ourselves on TV or anything like that yet.
Still, thatâ€™s so cool!
Yeah, it is. Itâ€™s really goodâ€”itâ€™s nice that people are wanting to write about us. Theyâ€™re being really positive about it as well.
Yeah, well you guys are really great. Actually, I wanted to ask to take it back for a secondâ€”when did you first meet and form the Dolly Rockers?
We met four years ago. It was an audition called The Stage in London, and we all went for it. We got the auditionâ€”the three of us. And then, our manager wasnâ€™t very good so we left him, so thatâ€™s how we got together. We used to be called Innosense before we left. He was like really pervy and tried to likeâ€”he just wasnâ€™t, he wasnâ€™t very good. He just wanted us to do covers and do the club scene.
But what about the transformation into the Dollys today, because obviously youâ€™re very different from when you first appeared on…that show.
Yeah, we got in touch with these amazing songwriters, and we were writing with them trying to find a style. Obviously weâ€™re very loud vocally, so we were like â€œWhy donâ€™t we just, like, be us?â€ So we started writing all the music, and then we came up with the name ourselves. One of the girls was wearing a t-shirt from an old vintage company which is called the Dolly Rockers, so we saw the name and were like â€œThatâ€™s really cool.â€ Our styling always, always from day oneâ€”we always liked messy hair, we always wanted to be different. We didnâ€™t want to do something that everybody else was doing.
So everything we did creatively, down to like our video [for "Je Suis Une Dolly"] which is on YouTube. Weâ€™ve got a viral video, we directed it. Everything comes from us. Weâ€™re not manufactured at all really.
Really, I did want to talk about the video because that truly is the reason I fell in love you guys. Literally, someone messaged me and asked if Iâ€™d heard about the Dolly Rockers, and at first I thought it was going to be like a Dolly Parton tribute band, like I had no idea.
And within the first ten seconds, I was justâ€”I was hooked. I knew you were like my new favorite girl group.
Aww, well we did that. We literally got in from a gig and got up at like four or five oâ€™clock to do it â€˜cause of hair and makeup and stuff. When we filmed it, no one actuallyâ€”we didnâ€™t get permission from anybody. So everything that you see is true.
So those reactions are really real.
Those reactions are actual people. Nobody knew we were gonna do itâ€”we just ran out. We had this big van that we just ran out and did it in.
Were you absolutely terrified?
I thinkâ€¦weâ€™d had so much Red Bull since we were really tired that I think we were just delusional.
It didnâ€™t really matter. It just seemed normal. It wasnâ€™t likeâ€”when people see it and theyâ€™re like â€œOh my god, itâ€™s crazy!â€ Obviously we thought it was good but we neverâ€”we were just acting ourselves.
Wow. And then, in the massive dance scene where everyoneâ€™s dancing behind you, was the song really playing in their headphones and did they learn it?
Yeah. Basically we all had headphones on and weâ€”like, we didnâ€™t have a budget for the video because we didnâ€™t have a record deal thenâ€”so we posted a link online and it was like a clip of us teaching the dance routine, we did it in like four steps, five steps. And we just posted it on YouTube and said â€œIf you like it, come on and be in the video.â€ We didnâ€™t know how many people would turn up, and then loads of people turned up so we gave them headphones and they all had the music. Nobody else in the station could actually hear the music so we looked crazyâ€”we looked like we were just dancing to nothing.
People were just stopping and staring. We did it in a big museum called Tate Modern in London. The people who worked there thought we were part of the workshop project or something they were doing there, so we just pretended we were.
[LAUGHS] Oh my God.
[LAUGHS] Yeah, it was really fun, and itâ€™s had a really good reaction as well.
Yeah, no, definitely. Every time I show people theyâ€™re just like â€œOh my God, this is fantastic.â€ [LAUGHS]
[LAUGHS] Aww, thank you.
Also, you have the viral videos on YouTube which are amazing, and thanks to you I finally know how to wire a plug and do my hair really big.
[LAUGHS] Can I actually tell you the truth about the wiring the plug scene?
We couldnâ€™t do it, and that was the only one that we really didnâ€™t know how to do.
So what happened was, I shouldnâ€™t really tell you, someone actually did that for us. We undid it, and then they re-winded it. It makes it look like we did it. It looks us likeâ€”â€˜cause I kept saying to the Girls, like, they said â€œWho wants to do the plug?â€ and I said â€œI do, â€˜cause Iâ€™m really good at things â€˜round the house and the Girls were like â€œNo, youâ€™re not.â€ And I was like â€œYeah, I am!â€ When it came down to it, I didnâ€™t know what to do, so thereâ€™s one bit where I scream and Iâ€™m like â€œI never said I knew how to wire a plug!!â€ Theyâ€™re both like â€œOh, you know how to do it. You do it.â€ And I couldnâ€™t do it.
[LAUGHS] No, it definitely looked like you were having some difficulties.
So do you guys live with each other, or are you just friends, or?
Weâ€”me and Lucie lived in Manchester, she still stays with me when she comes down, but weâ€™re getting a Dolly House in the next week or so. Weâ€™ve just been looking for one but weâ€™ve been so busy that we havenâ€™t had time. We finally just put in for a house, so weâ€™ll be living together as of next week.
Oh, thatâ€™s cool!
Should be a bit crazy.
Is there going to be a lot of fighting?
[LAUGHS] Yeah, there will be. Itâ€™ll be fun though.
Should be good.
Also, whatâ€™s coming up is â€œGold Digger.â€ Got the video and the single coming out. I saw some pictures from the video, it looked fantastic. When are we gonna see it?
You know that actually weâ€™re re-shooting a new video. We did that video, and then we got it back and it wasnâ€™t really right, so weâ€™re re-shooting a new video which is a secret, but youâ€™ll probably see it when itâ€™s out. We actually havenâ€™t done it yetâ€”weâ€™re doing it next week. When we did the video, and we got it back andâ€”obviously, you know, this our launch, weâ€™ve been working for four yearsâ€”we got it back and we just werenâ€™tâ€¦you know, we let a director do it, we didnâ€™t direct that one and heâ€”it just didnâ€™t really work for us for some reason. We didnâ€™t love it, and we said â€œWe want our first one to be amazing.â€ So we said to them that we wanted to do another one and have more input in it.
So then I guess that makes sense as to why the singleâ€™s not coming out until the very end of the summer.
Yeah, yeah, thatâ€™s why it got pushed back, â€˜cause obviously we want to get it perfect. This was rushing it. And if weâ€™re going to do it, you know you only get one chance. We want to do it properly.
No, definitely. Itâ€™s going to be an entirely different concept?
Umâ€¦yeah. Completely different, so itâ€™ll be a surprise.
Ooh! Iâ€™m excited. [LAUGHS]
[LAUGHS] Hopefully itâ€™ll have a bit more of a feel like the first one. We just need toâ€”we just want to have fun with it, really and be proud of it.
And then youâ€™ve got the album coming afterward, right?
Yeah, weâ€™re just focusing on the single now. The second single will probably be released around Christmas time, and an album to follow.
Okay, so maybe next year?
Yeah, probably like around New Years orâ€”maybe around Christmas, it depends how the singles do. If they do amazing, we can release it straight away, but weâ€™ve got it ready to go.
I know youâ€™re still recording because you said something on your Twitter that you were recording a song called â€œBoys Will Be Boysâ€ yesterday?
Yeah. We just got in this morning from Jersey. Itâ€™s a really good new song which might be our second or third single.
Yeah. Itâ€™s really, really good. Really cool. We havenâ€™t actually got the finished mix back yet, but itâ€™s different from â€œGold Digger.â€
Are you working with any well known producers or writers?
We wrote with this guy who wrote all the Spice Girlsâ€™ stuff. Heâ€™s calledâ€”we called him Biff. Weâ€™ve done a couple album tracks with him, but the people that we write our main stuff, our singles with, are two guys called Ray Hedges and Nigel Butler, and they did a lot of the pop in the â€˜90â€™s, like Take That and things like that, like really big British bands.
Yeah, thatâ€™s really classic writers. Okay, so maybe this will give a feel for the kind of music weâ€™re about to hear, but what kind of music are you girls listening to lately?
Well, I personally loveâ€”you know the Veronicas?
I really like them.
We love people like Lily Allen. Have you got La Roux, do you know who La Roux is over there yet?
Oh, yes, yes.
Yeah, we like herâ€”just quite current stuff really.
How about Little Boots?
Yeah, Little Boots. We like her, we like Pixie Lott. Weâ€™re on the same label as Lily Allen, so we like her stuff. Do you like her?
Oh, I love Lily Allen, sheâ€™s great. And I think the second albumâ€”I like it better than the first one even.
Yeah, we likeâ€”we sort of really love her stuff and follow her stuff. We prefer people like that, we love Lady Gaga. Obviously theyâ€™re completely different, but just in regards to like theyâ€™re sort of self-made, you can tell that they have a big input into what they do.
So thatâ€™s really important to youâ€”creative input.
Yeah, like we think like whatâ€™s the point in doing something if you canâ€™t speak to people and tell them what you think. Thereâ€™s no point in just doing something that someone else has written or someone else has told you to because they might not do it.
So then do you write your own lyrics?
Yeah, we co-write all of our stuff. Weâ€™ve written a couple of album tracks, but all of our tracks we co-write. We have a say in everything, because obviously we want to agree with what weâ€™re talking about and if someone just writes us a song and we donâ€™t actually know about that subject, thereâ€™s no sense in singing about it. Thatâ€™s like with â€œGold Diggerâ€â€”weâ€™ve been out in London in the West End clubs for years, we used to go all the time, and weâ€™ve seen all the kinds of girls we write about which sort of inspired us. Weâ€™ve seen like all the gold diggers hanging outside over at the big clubs waiting for footballers to come out, and likeâ€¦
And snag â€˜em.
And you can see it if you go out in London.
Wow, well thatâ€™s good. Iâ€™m glad thatâ€™s so important to you guys because I think thatâ€™s important to being an artist.
I think thatâ€™s the only thing that makes people warm to you and actually see personality, otherwiseâ€¦do you know what I mean?
People like you. Or hate you, it depends upon the person you are, but I think itâ€™s really important to sort of likeâ€”it sounds really stupidâ€”but stay true to yourself. I sound like a gang member. [LAUGHS]
Whether they like you or hate you, thatâ€™s all that matters as long as youâ€™re getting a reaction really.
I saw your schedule for tour dates. Youâ€™ve got like forty or fifty shows youâ€™re doing up until October.
Thatâ€™s going to be a lot!
Yeah! [LAUGHS] I actually havenâ€™t seen that yet.
Oh really? [LAUGHS]
Yeah, youâ€™re doing a lot.
Okay. Well, thatâ€™s good!
Youâ€™re actually performing at my friend Rajâ€™s show on Friday, itâ€™s called ElectroQueer.
And youâ€™re doing a few Pride fests, and youâ€™re doing G.A.Y., so I have to ask: Do the Dolly love their gays?
Yeah, we love them. Theyâ€™re likeâ€”we love performing at gay clubs the most, I think. Itâ€™s because we get a really good reaction and I think that we justâ€”I think they quite like us, which is obviously great.
Yeah, well speaking as a representative, I have a feeling they like you too.
[GIGGLES] Thank you.
I donâ€™t want to stir up too much drama, but Iâ€™m genuinely interested in knowingâ€”of the girl bands around the U.K. right now, which ones do you actually like and enjoy? Sugababes? Girls Aloud? The Saturdays?
Which ones do we like?
Um, we loveâ€”thereâ€™s a new band called the Paradiso Girls in America. We actually know one of them, Lauren. We love them. Have you seen their video?
Yes, with Eve.
Itâ€™s amazing, isnâ€™t it?
It is. Itâ€™s great.
Theyâ€™re all so amazing, we really like them. We like Girls Aloud, weâ€™ve sort of grown up around the music. Our main influence of the girl bands are the Spice Girls for us, really.
Well, I think you guys areâ€”Iâ€™ve not seen such energy and amazing, justâ€¦fun, since the Spice Girls really, and I do think you are on that level.
Theyâ€™re sort of our inspiration, really. We watch old videos of them. We YouTube it, and they just have so much fun. I think itâ€™s so important, like, when youâ€™re young and you get this opportunity. Whatâ€™s the point in being a diva or pretending like something that youâ€™re not? Iâ€™m twenty years old, and I get to have photoshoots and gigs and see all these amazing things. So we just have fun with it.
You can tell.
I think thatâ€™s what they did, and they were themselves. Like with a lot of girl bands, you donâ€™t know whoâ€™s who, theyâ€™re just known as the blonde one or the brown-haired one. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, thatâ€™s true.
Which works for some people, but you know, thatâ€™s fine. A lot of bands make a lot of money from that and keep their private lives private, which is fine, but I just think if youâ€™re going to do something, you might as well try and make it different orâ€¦be yourself.
Absolutely, and I think thatâ€™s why we knew the Spice Girls members so quickly, is because they had such distinct personalities.
And especially since youâ€™re going to be living with each other, thatâ€™s just like how they started out too.
Well, to be honest, we have been anyway. We share a bed, the three of us. Like, I used to have a house, and weâ€™d share a bed. Weâ€™re all very close and weâ€™re all likeâ€”weâ€™re not best friends, but we do argue. Weâ€™re human. Weâ€™re more like sisters.
Aww, thatâ€™s great.
I know youâ€™re probably really busy with the photoshoot and everything if you have to go, soâ€¦
I have to get my hair done. Iâ€™m not actually doing anything, Iâ€™m actually looking in the mirror. [LAUGHS] I shouldnâ€™t tell you that.
[LAUGHS] Okay! Well, Iâ€™m gonna let you go.
Are you in America or are you here?
No, Iâ€™m in America.
Oh, I was gonna say you should come to our gig on Friday.
Oh, I really want to! I feel like you should come to America.
I think that weâ€™reâ€”[TO MANAGEMENT] are we doing that gig in New York? Oh no, we were going to do a gig in New York, but apparently weâ€™re not doing it now. It might be postponed or something.
Aw! I would love to see you guys.
Whereabouts in America are you?
Well, Iâ€™m close to New York. Iâ€™m in Connecticut.
Oh, okay. Well if we ever do anythingâ€¦
Weâ€™ll be sure to let you know.
Do you have any plans to go international, or is that justâ€¦
Well, yeah. Weâ€™d love to, of course we do, but at the moment weâ€™re just going to concentrate on releasing the single and hopefully it going well, â€˜cause we are like a Marmite band, you either love us or hate us. We just hope that we do well, and if we do do well and if we get the opportunity to, then weâ€™d love to come to America or Japan and everywhere.
Yeah, well Japanâ€™s becoming the best music market actually, so that would be great.
Mm, weâ€™d love to go anywhere. We want to see the world as well. Anyone whoâ€™ll have us, weâ€™ll come there.
One more question. I know that your look is like big hair, cinched waist, puffy skirt, accessories and things like that. Did anything in particular inspire that or did you just sort of like grow into that look?
No, we always just thought like we want to be like Dolls. We always wanted to be a bit theatrical and a bit different and to stand out, like we wear these outfits sometimes and just go to parties. People tell us to come over and weâ€™ll turn up like that, and people just stare at us like â€œWhat are they doing?â€ but at least they know that they can remember us. We just like big hair, literally. And the puffy skirts and stuff, I think we just came up with it, â€˜cause it was like Dolly-fied. We just sort of think itâ€™s different and we want to eventually have a clothing range. Thatâ€™d be really cool to design loads of things for kids, and these outfits and stuff for people.
That would be really cool, yeah. You should look into doing a thing with TopShop or something.
Yeah, weâ€™d love to! [LAUGHS] So yep, that was why we decided to do that. We just thoughtâ€”weâ€™ve always done that, I donâ€™t even know where it came from, it was just what we did from day one.
Yeah. Hmm! Very cool.
So, alright, Iâ€™m going to let you go. I just wanted to say that Iâ€™m very excited to see what you guys do next. Iâ€™m excited for the single, Iâ€™m excited for the album, and Iâ€™m going to do all I can to help promote because I do think you guys are like the next big thing, and I think thereâ€™s going to be a lot of wonderful things happening. Iâ€™m a huge fan, so I wish you all the luck!
Aw, thank you so much!
Alright then, well nice talking to you.
Nice talking to you too! I hope to meet you soon! Come to America.
Yeah, well Iâ€™ll try! Okay, thank you!
Click here to listen to the Dolly Rockers’ “Gold Digger.”