Ellie Goulding is a British vocalist whose music finds the balance between electro-pop and indie folk. Born in Hereford, England, she later moved to the country's east coast to study drama at the University of Kent. Goulding had developed a love for folk music as a teenager, and her time at University also exposed her to electronica. After two years, she took a break from her studies and moved to West London, where she pursued a career as an alternative singer/songwriter and befriended producers like Starsmith and Frankmusik, who gave her songs an electro-pop twist. In 2009, Goulding began building an audience via the internet, where early tracks like "Starry Eyed" and a cover of Sam Sparro's "Black & Gold" were posted on taste-making MP3 blogs such as Discodust. Goulding soon graduated from the blogosphere to print media, gaining praise from mainstream publications like The Guardian and fielding offers from record labels. She ultimately signed a major-label deal with Polydor Records and began making preparations to release her debut album. In the meantime, she penned songs for Diana Vickers, Gabriella Climi, and others.
During the final weeks of 2009, Goulding topped the BBC's "Sound of 2010," a poll conducted by British music critics and industry insiders to identify new talent. Building on that momentum, she released Lights -- a sparkling debut album that splashed Goulding's vocal flutter across a landscape of acoustic and synthesized instruments -- in March 2010. Lights topped the U.K. charts during its first week and spun off a Top Five single, "Starry Eyed," which also charted well in Ireland and New Zealand. Later that year, the album was re-released as Bright Lights, featuring seven new recordings (including a cover of Elton John's "Your Song," which peaked at number two). ~ Andrew Leahey, allmusic.com