‘Lights’ by Ellie Goulding is a song which describes the fear of the dark she had when she was young. It tells people what it is like to be so scared of something that you dread it and it explains the thoughts and voices which torment your mind when you are faced with that fear and cannot do anything about it, it is something that you need to be exposed to in order to survive. This song can be interpreted in many different ways.
What stood out to me about this song is how much I could relate to it. This song has got aspects of it that explain exactly what it feels like to be trapped, but not physically trapped, mentally trapped. Like you are held prisoner in your own brain. This song shows hints of a battle with depression or insomnia embedded between the lines of her way of describing her fear of the dark. “And I’m not sleeping now”, this implies insomnia, as the use of the word ‘now’ tells us she used to sleep but she now doesn’t. This could be because her anxiety or the thoughts which hang in her mind and don’t leave her alone get louder, more prominent when the house is quiet and dark. When your not doing anything you think more and often it’s in those dark hours where things get overwhelming. “The dark is too hard to beat And I’m not keeping now The strength I need to push me” These particular lyrics describe the force of the darkness, how evil it is and how much strength is needed to keep sane during those dreaded hours, when she says ‘I’m not keeping up’ it tells us that she is falling behind, her mind is being mean and nasty, and the strength she needs to fight is dwindling.
There is one specific line in the song that talks about her life as a game “But the queen has been overthrown” the queen is a significant piece in a game of chess and when it has gone you have to fight hard to return. This line is sung after “I had a way then Losing it all on my own I had a heart then” which shows that she was referring to herself as the queen and that she has been over thrown.
“Noises, I play within my own head Touch my own skin and hope that I’m still breathing” This line is particularly revealing, it shows just how powerful those thoughts and voices which scream at you, so loud that you wonder how no one else can hear them. They are so overwhelmingly strong that you don’t even know if you are still alive.
The way that the song is sung, in Ellie’s innocent voice contrasts so well with the lyrics, she sounds young and fragile so when she sings the song it is full of emotion and makes you feel sorry for her, sorry that she had to go through the pain, if what she is describing is really how she felt. Also during the first verse when, “I had a way then Losing it all on my own I had a heart then But the queen has been overthrown” is said it could be imagined that the ‘queen’ is perhaps someone who holds importance in her old life, she felt devotion for but then let her down. Once she had ‘overthrown’ this person they left behind broken pieces that she was left to pick up.
I can relate to this song through my own experiences and treatment. As I begun to develop mental health problems, I started to struggle with falling asleep. It was at these hours during the night that things got out of control. I would have nothing to do and no one to be around which meant no distractions, this lead to thoughts becoming overwhelmingly strong and I became weaker and weaker the less sleep I got. I would go for a few nights without sleeping and on the third day I would feel completely broken. The words in this song describe the feeling in a way I would never have thought to describe it, “And I’m not sleeping now The dark is too hard to beat” I always thought of it as my own mind taking advantage of the fact there was no one around to distract me or keep me busy. I thought of it as my mind trying to get me worse, preventing recovery and putting a stop to everything I try to do to get myself better.