What We Expected: After her “Lights” unexpectedly became one of the breakout US pop hits of 2012—seemingly years after its initial release—we figured Ellie Goulding would cash in with her next single, the lead off her upcoming Halcyon album. Maybe it wouldn’t quite be Ellie coasting on some David Guetta-produced jam where all she was asked to do would be to carry a “Wild Ones”-style hook and spend the rest of the song fist-pumping, but at the very least, we figured it’d be a high-energy (if not downright Hi-NRG) dance number in the style we’ve come accustomed to from 2012 Top 40.
What Was Delivered: Ellie threw us for a loop a little here by releasing a single that actually makes her relatively restrained, understated “Lights” sound like “Where Them Girls At” by comparison. Not to say that “Anything” is tame or draggy, but its beat is more of an insistent stomp than a four-on-the-floor club banger, with an airy synth hook and that feels like it’d be more at home on a Passion Pit album than something worked by Calvin Harris. The lyrics tell of a breakup, but not in an anthemic or rallying way like a recent Katy Perry song—more just of Ellie breaking up with her guy because she realizes there’s greater possibility out there. (Like a Skrillex, perhaps?)
The Difference: We’re pleasantly surprised by “Anything Could Happen.” It’s not one of the singles of the year and we don’t necessarily see it becoming a smash—though considering how much the popularity of “Lights” threw us for a loop, we probably wouldn’t bet against it either—but it’s a catchy and compelling little pop song, and shows that Ellie hasn’t let success go to her head. (Maybe just because she hasn’t had the chance for it to catch up to her yet?) Anyway, we appreciate you not just taking a victory lap with this one, Ellie. Good show.