“Sixteen” by Ellie Goulding

This song is based on the “reckless” and rebellious days of Ellie Goulding’s youth, as well as the “innocence” associated with those years. As such, the title, “Sixteen”, actually refers to the age group which is the subject of the track. Indeed 16 was a “pivotal year” for Goulding, and accordingly this song means a lot to her.

From the onset, you can see that Ellie is not only referring to life-changing events she went through at this age but also a companion she was very close to during that era who was part and parcel of her experience. During this time, via prompting by her mother, Goulding and this person decided to save up and move away from home. It was an exciting albeit “dangerous” time in their lives. It is also a period that she reminisces on fondly, as in having a desire to recapture some of the emotions she experienced with this individual. As such, in the chorus, we find Goulding asking this friend to focus on her “like we were 16”, a time when they basically shared everything with each other.

Lyrics of Ellie Goulding's "Sixteen"

The second verse starts off with the singer remembering a time when their teacher dissed them for being “too young” and “too stupid”. But throughout it all they remained optimistic and close. But now, just as she pointed out in the first verse, they are “so busy doing life” that they don’t seem to have time for each other. So once again she desires to go back to when they were 16 and inseparable friends.

Ultimately what this song boils down to is that Ellie Goulding greatly values this friend from her formative teenage years – so much so she is not taking for granted that she will ever become that close to anyone else again. Owing to this, she is entreating this person to remain near to her as well as praising this individual for remaining positive and becoming successful despite those who had predicted otherwise.

What Goulding said about this song

According to Goulding, the lyrics of “Sixteen” center on the “reckless days of adolescence”.

Facts about “Sixteen”

  • Four songwriters (including Ellie Goulding) teamed up to write “Sixteen”. The other three writers are RAYE, Fred Gibson and Joe Kearns.
  • Renowned American record producer Ian Kirkpatrick co-produced the song with FRED and Mike Wise.
  • “Sixteen” came out on April 12, 2019. It is the second single from Goulding’s fourth studio album. The song “Flux” was the first single to be released from that album.
  • The pictures on the cover artwork of “Sixteen” are a compilation of pictures taken by Goulding’s real life friends when they were 16. In other words, every single photo you see on the artwork belongs to a friend of Goulding.

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