Published on August 9th, 2011 | by Randall Castillo0
An Afternoon With Ellie Goulding In NYC
We’ve mentioned her before on our SOUND Summer Playlist ’11, so the name Ellie Goulding might strike you as familiar. If not, here’s a refresher: she’s the blonde Brit with a clean, powerful voice and a knack for making catchy, multi-layered music that you simply can’t get enough of.
Ring any bells?
Having made significant strides overseas, Goulding is now carrying that momentum across the pond, where she seems determined to conquer The States in the same way she has her home country. A four week tour got things started back in the spring across 19 different venues here in the US of A — an apparent success. Since then, she’s done the Jimmy Kimmel thing, more recently appearing on this little show called Saturday Night Live and at the moment is wrapping up another tour of the U.S. and Canada that has stretched across seventeen performances. No rest for the weary, it would appear.
Of the many stops Goulding has and will make on this second leg of her romp across the country, there assuredly won’t be another quite as intimate as her performance at the Best Buy (you read that right) in Midtown Manhattan’s Union Square location. Nestled amongst HDMI cables, 50-inch plasma televisions and geeky pamphlets hocking extended warranties, the up-and-comer gave a soulful performance that, in some ways, even bested the work on her recent studio album, Lights.
The label “the next big thing” has been misattributed so frequently that the phrase often elicits rolled eyes and a slew of “yeah right’s,” but we really do mean it — Ellie Goulding is destined for worldwide fame and notoriety, the evidence of which was in abundance at Union Square.
For starters, Ellie is a fantastic live performer. An acoustic show such as the one at Best Buy leaves very little for an artist to hide behind, and in baring it all for us it was clear that the Brit truly knows how to sing. In a world full of auto-tuned, software-enhanced pop stars that leave our airwaves devoid of the natural beauty of human voices, it’s hugely refreshing to witness a musician who sits down at the mic, just sings and sounds great doing it. And for an artist who is very much involved in a grassroots sort of effort to get her music out there, this will be a huge factor as she continues performing in venues such as SNL.
The other indicator of future fame? Goulding’s relationship with her fans. Gauging such a complex dynamic can be a tricky business, but based on the observations from throughout the afternoon the singer appeared to connect well with her fan base, smiling and talking her way through the signing. She did seem a bit road worn, though — having performed five times out of the previous seven nights, including the night before at New York’s Terminal 5. At one point in the performance she even admitted, “I’m usually a bit more outgoing than this,” wondering aloud what was causing her to be “so shy.” Fortunately, this worked well for the low-key energy of an acoustic performance and both Ellie and her followers seemed happy to see each other.
Perhaps this is just merely a product of the early stages of success, bound to wear off in time as the attention gets old. But from my vantage point next to the stage, there was something lasting about the connection. Maybe — hopefully — Ellie is just that kind of musician; that kind of girl. Only time will tell.
What we do know for now is what we see and hear — and that’s a whole lot of talent in a small but capable package from across the Atlantic. She’s done an incredible job so far and if it’s any indication of what’s on the horizon, we certainly can’t wait for what’s next. ♦ ♦ ♦
Randall Castillo currently resides in New York City, working in television. A proud Twitter-er, Tumblr-er and only child, he has simple and humble ambitions of making films in Hollywood, and frequently pursues ventures in comedy, journalism, photography, production, fashion, art, business, athletics, advertising, law, motorsports and psychology. In the meantime, he writes for SOUND.