Ellie Goulding – ‘Lost and Found’

A guest blog written by Chris Haigh. You can agree/disagree with him here.

Song: ‘Lost and Found’
Artist: Ellie Goulding
US chart peak: Wasn’t released as a single
Release date: October 23, 2015 (as a ‘promotional single’)
Writers: Ellie Goulding, Carl Falk, Max Martin, Laleh Pourkarim, Joakim Berg
Producers: Carl Falk, Max Martin
Quintessential Max moment: That breathless rush from verse into chorus with a belted ‘HEY!’
Video synopsis: Ellie’s name in gold on a nice cerulean background.

‘Delirium’ is a perfectly suitable name for Ellie ‘Official Soundtrack’ Goulding’s third studio album as it combines all of the  joy of listening to some properly good music with the confusion and length of getting drunk at an all-night warehouse rave and waking up to a gin and kebab-flavoured mess. Goulding wanted ‘Delirium’ to be her big pop record, and following debut ‘Lights’ (dreamy folk-pop) and ‘Halcyon’ (electronic pop), it makes sense that she’d rope in such popsmiths as Carl Falk, Greg Kurstin, and, yes you’ve guessed it, Max Martin, to help make ‘Delirium’ the bangerfest it sort of was, including promo single ‘Lost and Found’.

Christ can we talk for a hot second about how wasted this song was? We’re talking about a Max Martin and Carl Falk produced bonafide banger being relegated to promo single status! Sometimes being a promo single can actually work – see ‘Million Reasons’ or ‘The Edge of Glory’ for some recent examples – but a lot of the time, they’re just chum in the water being used to tease out a popstar’s big campaign, rather than being treated as the tunes they deserve to be treated as. Imagine how crap it must be to spend three weeks working on a song and get excited when the execs say it’s going to hit radios, only to find that it’s a barely-promoted buzz single? Pants. In short, ‘Lost and Found’ was a pop stonker waiting in the wings, sobbing into its handkerchief dramatically when ‘Army’ shambled on stage instead.

Anyway, enough of all that wallowy stuff, let’s get back into the heart of things and discuss why this tune is actually solid gold pop wizardry. The funny thing is that it’s simultaneously a classic-sounding song with all its guitar-led instrumentation (a la ‘Lights’-era) and also one that doesn’t 100% adhere to pop song rules. For starters, there’s no pre-chorus or run-up into the belter of a chorus; Ellie instead just leaps from the gentle crooning about her bucolic background, into the beats-heavy electronic chorus which makes the song a little jarring on first listen.

There’s also the instrumental guitar breakdown that follows the chorus for a bar or two, before the new verse or bridge kicks in, which makes zero sense in terms of where it actually should be. But that’s the whole point isn’t it? Max and Carl just building the song around where the best impact would be – the breakdown serving as a breather before the punchier second verse or the bouncy middle eight, rather than as a lead into the chorus.

Then there’s the chorus. God what a glittery confetti cannon of a chorus it is. It’s the aural equivalent of stepping out from pleasant shade into brilliant sunshine, and it’s designed in such a way as to act as two smaller choruses in one, without sacrificing proper pop song length. “Is there anybody out there/Waiting for me on my way” kicks off the first mini-chorus while ‘Tonight we’re at the lost and found’ is the second and hookier of the two, which when it comes to Max and co. means winners all round.

I mean, the lyrics are largely nonsense, but that’s never mattered really anyway has it? It certainly didn’t stop Ariana from singing a song about independence and breaking free while shooting aliens in the face, and it doesn’t stop Ellie from warbling about her love of the countryside and a guy she’s loved there. Or maybe the guy’s a metaphor for her more rootsy start in music and it’s a bit of a T-Swizzle situation where she’s singing about how much she still really likes folk music, you guys. Or maybe it’s actually about a pub called ‘The Lost and Found’ and it’s all just a song about having a good time. Maybe we’re overthinking it.

Other stuff to love about it: the middle eight/bridge is just an escalating repetition of the “We’re at the lost and found bit” and that’s brilliantly good at getting you excited for the last cannonblast of the chorus. The fact that random details about cherry skies and buses make their way into lyrics. And that the millennial “HEY!” anchors the impressive chorus throughout, giving it a call-and-response element that might not have been technically needed but which makes the song seven times more fun that it would have been otherwise.

‘Lost and Found’ was originally intended by Max Martin for Mick Fleetwood which is worth a chuckle, as you can imagine that it’d be about 500% less pop and 200% more lutes or something, but his loss is Ellie’s gain, even if the song’s blip of a chart performance is still somehow Ellie’s loss. Fortunately, though, the song does exist and it’s such a glorious, warm-hearted, sun-dappled pop tune that all the other stuff just fades away. Thank goodness for ‘Lost and Found’ for proving that sometimes you just need a cracking good and sincere pop song to clear the clouds away, Good job all round.

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