Meaning of “Lights” by Ellie Goulding

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” delves into the struggles of self-identity and finding strength amidst the darkness. It portrays the songwriter’s journey of battling internal demons and using ‘lights’ – possibly metaphorical for hope, guidance, or someone special – as her anchor during hard times. Goulding seems to be singing about personal battles, perhaps related to fame or personal relationships, and seeks solace in the memories of her past and the love of her family. The ‘lights’ represent moments of clarity and assurance that pull her out of her troubled thoughts.

Ever wondered about the deeper shades hidden within Ellie Goulding’s ethereal vocals? Let’s unravel them together.

“Lights” Lyrics Meaning

Starting with “I had a way then, losing it all on my own,” Goulding immediately sets a tone of past strength that has been lost or compromised. This may hint at challenges faced in her life where she once felt in control but now feels overwhelmed.

When she mentions the “queen has been overthrown,” it evokes imagery of her losing her sense of self or her place in the world. This dethroning might relate to the pressures of the music industry, personal relationships, or inner conflict.

The chorus brings forward the anchoring theme of the song. “You show the lights that stop me turn to stone, You shine it when I’m alone.” The ‘lights’ act as a beacon, a force that brings stillness to her chaotic emotions. It might symbolize a person, a memory, or even the idea of hope that keeps her grounded amidst the storm.

The lines “Noises, I play within my head” and “Touch my own skin and hope that I’m still breathing” vividly capture the internal turmoil. These “noises” are her fears, doubts, and insecurities. The tactile action of touching her skin and ensuring she’s breathing hints at moments of anxiety and grounding techniques.

And then, we move to the poignant memory, “And I think back to when my brother and my sister slept, In an unlocked place, the only time I feel safe.” This suggests a longing for simpler times, perhaps childhood, when the world felt secure, and the pressures of today were non-existent.

As the song progresses, the repetition of “lights” emphasizes its significance. Whether it’s a beacon of hope, an individual, or the memories that anchor her, these lights are the constancy that helps Goulding navigate her emotions and challenges.

Why Was “Lights” Written?

To fully grasp “Lights,” it’s pivotal to understand where Ellie Goulding was at that phase of her life. Bursting into the music scene and achieving global recognition, Goulding faced the overwhelming whirlwind of fame. The pressures, expectations, and the sudden plunge into the public eye can be daunting.

“Lights” seems to be a reflection of that turbulence. Goulding expresses vulnerability, the weight of her new life, and the contrasting peace of her past. The song, in essence, serves as a therapeutic outlet, channeling her internal battles into a melodic narrative. The ‘lights’ might also be a nod to the spotlight of stardom and how it can both be a guiding force and an overwhelming glare.

But like any art form, the true beauty of “Lights” lies in its relatability. Many of us have faced darkness in our lives and have clung onto memories, people, or sheer hope to pull us through. Goulding’s “Lights” encapsulates that universal experience, making it timeless and deeply resonant.