Ellie Goulding’s sophomore album, Halcyon, is being re-released in August with ten (yes, ten) new songs. Included in the album’s worth of new material is Ellie’s Alt-J cover, “Tessellate,” collaborations with BURNS and DJ Fresh, and the Ryan Tedder-produced lead single, “Burn,” which premiered online a couple of days ago.
Just like “Lights,” “Burn” is a huge synth-pop song with a tonne of mainstream hit potential. It’s got those big booming Tedder drums that we all remember so well from when every second song on the radio was produced by the One Republic frontman, a deliciously repetitious hook, and best of all, Ellie’s voice, which is mesmerizing as it constantly flits from hoarse to high and then back again.
However, Ellie’s not the first British pop star to record “Burn”: It belonged to Leona Lewis first, who recorded it for her Glassheart album. She even played it for Rolling Stone during a pre-release album preview, but it was eventually cut from the final tracklist. We’re guessing she dropped it after “Collide” flopped and Glassheart was pushed back for retooling (which didn’t work, since Glassheart still bombed on release).
Leona’s version’s already leaked online, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from the trend-jumping X Factor star. While Ellie’s “Burn” is a little more indie-pop sounding, Leona’s breaks into derivative tropical synths on the second verse in an obvious attempt to match the Stargate sound that was such a popular radio staple a few years ago. Her vocal performance is also a lot less inspired than Ellie’s, but since Leona’s “Burn” is obviously still in the demo stage, we won’t judge her too harshly on that one.
So, who do you think did “Burn” better?