The Musical Talmud - "Lights" by Ellie Goulding

The Musical Talmud – “Lights” by Ellie Goulding

In a new video commentary, Fenzel breaks down the most electromagnetically radiant song in pop music today.

Here’s my second Musical Talmud video! Feedback, critical analysis, and “well, actually”s involving basilisks in the comments!

11 Comments on “The Musical Talmud – “Lights” by Ellie Goulding”

  1. Mike Weiss #

    I’m rather impressed by the caliber of song you chose to overthink here. Previous Musical Talmuds have conducted this process with only the lowest of hanging fruits (not that I haven’t enjoyed it, and I do love “Call Me, Maybe”).

    Keep these video ones coming!


  2. Seminymous Coward #

    I see what you did there, leaving us alone in the dark at the end. The part with the video and talking was great, too, though.


  3. JusticeAntoninDerrida #

    I wish you had gone deeper into the second verse, which drew my attention because it is conspicuously absent from the popular Bassnectar Remix of this song.

    It has serious potential for a much darker reading. The lyrical proximity of ideas about children and family, safety, and unlocked doors simultaneously gestures toward the vulnerability of children, generally, and the potentiality of domestic violence or sexual abuse in the home (where presumably these doors are located). It might recall the “turns to stone” line from the previous verse in a different light (get it?)–instead of being enthralled or speechless due to wonder, one could also “turn to stone” in the meaning of playing dead or asleep out of avoidance.


  4. cat #

    Her sound reminds me of Little Boots, La Roux, Lenka, Lykke Li, The Green Children. What happened to fierce belting? Anyway, I enjoyed your analysis. I do think there are other interpretations of the specific symbols but it’s always interesting to follow your argument because of how closely you pay attention to structure.


    • Gab #

      You miss belting? Alas!

      Florence + The Machine- a really awesome example of musicality and layered textures. Very wall-of-sound at some points. And lots of belting, not only in the melody, but often in the counter-melodies and harmonies going on in the background, too.

      Adele- Need I clarify?

      Also, Damien Rice is an example of a male belter. Not every song, no, but sometimes he almost screams (but not in an “emo” or “screamo” kind of way).

      Just the first few I could think of. Remind me next time we chat, I’ll send you YouTube videos of others.


      • cat #

        I do love Florence. I will sometimes listen to her albums nonstop. I consider Adele more of soul singer than a traditional belter.

        Of course, when I want my real divas, I just go to Patti Lupone, Julia Murney, Whitney, Lea Michele, etc. I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of great singers or old records out there. I just think that people are a little too impressed with what’s currently out there sometimes.


        • Gab #

          Check your email. ;p


  5. Gab #

    (Aside: I love Ellie Goulding’s whole album.)

    I like how different your read of this song was from mine. Without babbling too much, my own thought was always that the lights in the chorus themselves are what turn to stone (I’d insert a bit into the line: “…lights that stop me [from being afraid] turn to stone.”), and the object to whom she’s singing is her help and assistance in face of that; when that person is gone and unable to get the lights working again, she tries to reassure herself she’ll be okay. And the second verse is about nightmares that bother her now, and how when she wakes from them she misses feeling safe. Overall, I guess I thought of it it as more like an admittance that she needs help in the face of fear/pain/loneliness etc., and focused more on whatever dark place she feels she’s in presently. Sort of… while the song is titled “Lights,” it’s actually about the dark.


  6. Timothy J Swann #

    The clip of the Rock is one of the most simple and effective ways of explaining the death of the author that I’ve seen.


  7. Wizardy #

    I must admit I had trouble following your explanations this time. And I think it’s mostly because of the song you’ve chosen to overthink being “too deep” and having real sophisticated metaphores in it.

    What I’m trying to say is, I think the video format is great for less sophisticated songs like “Call Me Maybe” but songs like “Lights” are easier to digest in written format, where the reader can better focus on it’s meaning.

    But then again, english isn’t my first language so that might be part of the reason too. Either way, great work and please give us more!


  8. Peter #

    For the record, I really preferred the written format. That way, I would watch the entire video, then read your commentary and rewatch the sections under discussion. This way I am not experiencing either the video or your discussion, but both at the same time through a single, highly noisy channel.


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