Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” Lyrics Meaning

While some may think “Lights” is about Ellie Goulding facing suicidal thoughts, this is actually not the case. Ellie has expressed that it’s about her childhood fear of sleeping in the dark. In a 2013 interview with CNN , Ellie said while growing up, she slept with her two sisters in the same bedroom because she apparently feared sleeping on her own. According to her, as an adult she has to now sleep with the lights on unless she’s with someone.

The Lyrics of “Lights”

Apparently the “queen” referred in the first verse of the track would be Goulding herself. In this case, Goulding felt like a queen back in her family home and now that she’s on her own, she feels like she’s been “overthrown” from the throne. This new change of being alone makes it hard for her to sleep since her childhood fear of the dark is now probably affecting her more.

Some of the many reasons why this fear (also known as “Nyctophobia”) occurs in children are related to their fear of ghosts, monsters, and strange noises. Feeling like one may die is one of the emotional symptoms in relation to this fear. When such fears are irrational or too big to control, it usually manifests worse things in our head.

Goulding shows that her fear has gotten the best of her when she hears noises in her head. She has probably tried many times to sleep with the lights off but when she does, the fear makes her feel like she’s going to die. However, when she turns the lights on at night, she feels safer.


In the chorus, we find Ellie directly addressing someone special in her life whose presence gives her the strength and courage to surmount her predicament (her intense fear of the darkness). It is not exactly clear who this person or entity is. But what is made abundantly clear is that this entity or person makes their presence available to Ellie whenever she is alone in the “darkness” and rescues her from turning “to stone” (i.e. being petrified) simply by shining “the lights” for her.

With this entity’s presence and light by her side, Ellie is able to summon the courage not to be afraid and remind herself to “be strong” to overcome the obstacles of fear brought on by the darkness surrounding her.

“You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I’m alone
And so I tell myself that I’ll be strong
And dreaming when they’re gone
‘Cause they’re calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I’m alone”

Release Date of “Lights”

On November 1st, 2010, “Lights” was released as single #2 from Goulding’s re-released debut album, “Bright Lights” through Polydor Records.

Goulding had tweeted on 8th September, 2010 of the news of her single.

Ellie Goulding announces the release of "Lights".

Did Ellie Goulding write “Lights”?

Yes. Together with Goulding, two other songwriters contributed to the writing of “Lights”. They are:

  • Richard “Biff” Stannard
  • Ash Howes

Stannard and Howes are part of the music production and songwriting trio, Biffco. They’ve worked with notable artists such as Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten and Little Mix.

We Have a Massive Hit on our Hands!

Upon release, “Lights” met with global success, even making to #1 in Poland. However, in the United States, it took a while before becoming famous. And when it did, it made it all the way to number 2 on America’s most important singles charts, the Hot 100. Simply put, in the US, “Lights” became what is said to be a sleeper hit – a song that initially didn’t meet with success upon being released but goes on to become very successful later on. In Ellie’s home (the United Kingdom), it also experienced some decent success. It was a top-50 hit in the UK.

United States#2

Goulding has stated that “Lights” enjoying the remarkable success that it did took she and her team by great surprise. According to her, nobody was expecting it to be that big!

To date, “Lights” remains Ellie’s most successful song in the United States (where it has sold over 6 million copies and gone 6 times Platinum).

Notable Usage

“Lights” was part of the soundtrack in 2013 American crime movie, “Spring Breakers”. The movie starred likes of James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens.

The Bassnectar remix of “Lights” was sampled in American rapper Lupe Fiasco’s “Lightwork” in 2011.

In Omar Rodriquez-López’s 2016 solo album “Blind Worms Pious Swine”, a cover of Goulding’s “Lights” was featured in it. 

“Lights” was covered by American hard rock band Through Fire in their debut album, “Breathe” in 2016.

Between 2012 and 2013, iconic American rock band Blondie frequently covered “Lights” into their classic song, “Atomic” during live performances.

In addition to the above, a ton of popular YouTubers have also covered this track. Some notable ones include those done by the following:

  • Boyce Avenue
  • Corey Gray
  • Tiffany Alvord
  • Jason Chen

The “Lights” Album

English singer, Ellie Goulding, had “Lights” officially released on the 26th of February, 2010. It was released as the singer’s first studio album.

The album was however reissued on the 29th of November, 2010 under the title, “Bright Lights”. This version comprised of 7 additional songs including Ellie’s hit single, “Lights”. The said song became the singer’s most successful single in the United States.

Ten years later, the album was re-released as “Lights 10” to commemorate its tenth anniversary. It was officially made available to the public on February 26 of 2020.

The album was produced by a team of highly acclaimed record producers, including Liam Howe and Fraser T. Smith.

German-British record label, Polydor Records, was the record label responsible for the album’s release.

In addition to the release of four singles form “Lights”, Ellie embarked on a tour aimed at promoting the album. She also performed at a number of music festivals including, the 2010 Glastonbury Festival, iTunes Festival, 2010, 2010 V Festival and the Open’er Festival.

The album did not only receive positive accolades from music critics around the world, it also put up an impressive commercial performance. Within its first week of release, it recorded sales of almost 40,000 copies in the United Kingdom alone. It became 2010’s 24th best-selling album in the UK. By 2020, “Lights” had recorded sales of almost a million copies in the UK. As of 2021, it was certified 2x platinum by the BPI in the UK and platinum in the US as well as Canada.

“Lights”, landed on the UK’s OCC at No. 1, it peaked at No. 21 and No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and Australia’s ARIA respectively. It ranked within the top-10 in both Scotland and Ireland, peaking at No. 6 in both countries.

1 Response

  1. John says:

    Great song and magnificent vocals. I share her same fears and I’m a grown man

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