There’s a reason that seemingly every young starlet (Kristen Stewart, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde…) has been seen attending an Ellie Goulding show or hanging backstage with the British songstress: She is all of us.

Watching Goulding sing about self-discovery, friendship, heartache, and loss, you begin to realize that even though she is on a stage — pouring her soul into every note and dance move in front of a stadium packed to the rafters with fans screaming and holding their hands up in reverence — she’s just a girl going through the same things you and I are.

Goulding recently gave an interview to The Sun announcing plans to take a break from music:

“People think I’m invincible, but these past few weeks have been tough,” Goulding is quoted as saying. “When you’re in the public eye, it seems like you’re able to deal with stuff better than anyone else, which is not remotely true. I’m not in a relationship any more and that’s been hard. Having a break will be a good thing for me and my head.”


She added, “I’m not writing new stuff. I’m not sure when I’ll release a new album. It might not even be next year. I need time off for my own head. My plan is to have a month off in August and do more of my charity stuff, and then next year I need to live a bit. Who knows? My situation has changed.”

One of the things that I love about music is how many different people can connect with a single song. They may connect with the beat and dance their cares away, or they may feel a connection with lyrics that describe emotions and situations in a far less clumsy way then we can ourselves.

Songs like “Explosion” (incidentally my favorite of the night) give me hope when I’m not sure I can handle all the things I am going through, and Goulding’s explanation for the song “Don’t Panic” (it’s about how she always over-thinks things) was a refreshing moment of honesty that stood in stark contrast to those singers who put off a persona of self-confident feminist perfection.

So it might be a personal bias, but when Goulding was onstage, I felt an undercurrent of moroseness to her performance. I’m not saying she did poorly or that there wasn’t enough energy. Far from it. There are very few vocalists who can literally jump and head bang, play the guitar, and occasionally bang their hearts out on the drums all while belting out flawless vocals.

Injecting her performance with emotion is so second-nature to Ellie Goulding that even between songs or when she was speaking to the crowd, I noticed something that wasn’t there when I saw her perform at The Hollywood Bowl in 2013 — just a hint of sadness that made me love the night’s performance even more because it was real.

Much of the night, however, focused on the dance-electric style of pop that Goulding is famous for, giving the crowd and singer alike more than ample opportunities to dance. With songs such as “Keep On Dancing,” “On My Mind,” “Burn,” “Lights” (which Goulding actually said isn’t as popular in Europe as it is the US), and her best friend-themed “Army,” the set at Staples Center has plenty of upbeat moments to balance out the heartbreaking hits (“I Need Your Love,” “Aftertaste,” “Figure Eight,” and “Outside”). I could even dance away the angst of unrequited love to “Don’t Need Nobody,” one of Goulding’s lyrically heavier songs with a storyline that hits a little too close to home.

Ending the show on a happy note with an encore of “Anything Could Happen” and “Love Me Like You Do,” Goulding seemed to be declaring that, despite what is going on in her personal life and those of any of the thousands of people in the crowd in similar situations, anything can happen.

Backstage at the Staples Center
Backstage at The Staples Center

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Ellie Goulding