Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on

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Ellie Goulding Explores New Sounds with "Anything Could Happen"

Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on the logic that just because a lot of the music on the radio is crap doesn't mean all the music on the radio is crap.

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The hit: "Anything Could Happen," Ellie Goulding, off the forthcoming Halcyon (out October 8).

Current chart position: #55 on iTunes; too early for Billboard (the song was just released on Tuesday).

The team: Goulding wrote "Anything Could Happen" herself and then co-produced it with the help of Jim Elliot, who is one-half of the British electropop duo Kish Mauve. Kish Mauve have written and produced songs for Kylie Minogue and Will Young, and Elliot also contributed a few tracks to the New Zealand pop singer Ladyhawke's first album.

Breakdown: Ellie Goulding's breakout hit "Lights" is charting sky-high at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Lights" took so long to take off that it's easy to forget that the song was released over a year ago. It's time for Goulding's next move. "Anything Could Happen" is a bit of a surprise. It contains none of the acoustic elements that caused many of her earlier songs, like "Guns and Horses" and "The Writer," as "folktronica." But it's also not the sort of synthesized, beat heavy club banger that "Lights" is. It's electropop in the lighter, gauzier sense of the term.

All comparisons aside, "Anything Could Happen" is a lovely, impactful song. Goulding has a talent for writing songs that unfold like stories; in this single song she conjures up scenes of skinnydipping, close bodies, wrecks, wars, and arguments. (Although I've been unable to figure out what "the wreck of '86" is). She sings the verses lightly but firmly and then layers the vocals on to emphasize the repetitive title line--"Anything could happen/Anything could happen..." When I first listened to the song, I found the repetition to be too endless and a little pointless. But coupled with the dreamlike atmosphere of the music, repeating the line so many times now seems to add to the song's sense of wonder and mesmerization and also to lend it a steady hand, a characteristic that's reinforced by Goulding singing such declarative, independent lines as "I'll give you everything you need/But I don't need you."

Using a wordless chorus is a bold move. Fans of pop music, particularly, like to be able to sing along to their favorite songs. The wordless chorus here--composed of piping synth sounds and a pattern of cut-up, high-pitched vocals--works because it matches the airy aura of the rest of the song, and also because it's a simple, very catchy melody. There are no words, but you could still sing along to it. You just might sound a little funny.

 
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