“I was obsessed with murder,” the British pop singer Ellie Goulding said of her childhood recently while regarding a diorama of taxidermied antelope at the American Museum of Natural History. This 28-year-old musician, known for her breathy, ethereal singing voice, said that her father collected books about true crime, “so I knew everything about Jack the Ripper, even the Yorkshire Ripper, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson.”
Growing up in public housing in the tiny parish of Lyonshall in western England, Ms. Goulding cherished school visits to the Imperial War and Science museums in London, a three-hour drive from home. “It was expensive,” she said, “and such a special occasion to go there.” These days, her status as one of England’s most celebrated pop stars has made her cultural expeditions less of a rarity. Last November, she rented the Natural History Museum in London — now just down the road from her home — for a private nighttime tour, a birthday gift for her boyfriend, Dougie Poynter, the bassist in a band called McBusted.
The occasion made tabloid headlines in England; Ms. Goulding is a frequent subject of fascination in the British gossip news media. The minutiae of her outfits, outings and relationships are chronicled as obsessively in the United Kingdom as, say, Khloe Kardashian is covered here. With the release of her third album, “Delirium” (Cherrytree/Interscope), on Friday, Nov. 6, Ms. Goulding may make a similar leap in the United States.
This album marks a shift from a sound fusing opaque electronics and lilting organic elements to full-on pop music, the kind of shiny, compact hooks that come from working with pop masterminds like the songwriters and producers Greg Kurstin and Max Martin. (Mr. Kurstin is responsible for Adele’s “Hello” and Mr. Martin for the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” two of the biggest hits of the year.) The first “Delirium” single, “On My Mind,” produced by Mr. Martin, is a jumpy midtempo track on which Ms. Goulding’s florid trills are edited down to a high-pitched clip. It has already cracked the Top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Ms. Goulding has made radio smashes before — “Lights,” “Love Me Like You Do,” the Calvin Harris collaboration “I Need Your Love,” all Top-20 hits — but in the past she’s preferred soft anthems that showcased her exceptional voice, a quivery soprano whose closest antecedent is perhaps Kate Bush. She began writing songs at a young age, and at 21, she met the young London producer Starsmith, whom she had contacted via Myspace; by 2009, a series of songs she had composed had become her debut album, “Lights.” That record’s success made her the kind of star who is asked to perform at the wedding reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and at the White House for President Obama.
Though her early work veered toward folk pop, her penchant for electronic elements made her songs attractive for remixes, and Ms. Goulding developed a reputation as a sort of crown princess of electronic dance music, or EDM. “She was a lot different from the major pop singers in America,” Mr. Kurstin said. “A lot of people who didn’t really like pop music but who liked electronic music liked her. Now pop singers are a little more electronic, but Ellie really stood out on the scene.”
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