How Ellie Goulding’s "Lights" Sloowwllly Became A Monster Hit

The dance-pop tune went from U.K. bonus track to U.S. smash over the course of nearly two years.

Michael Buckner / Getty Images

Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” has been kicking around for nearly two years now, but finally became a big crossover hit in the United States this summer. The song was expected to knock Carly Rae Jepsen’s summer pop anthem “Call Me Maybe” off the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, but as it turns out, Flo Rida’s “Whistle” is taking that honor instead. Regardless of whether Goulding makes it to Number One, it’s pretty amazing that she’s camped out at Number Two on the U.S. pop chart with a song that’s been out for such a long time. Here’s a timeline of how Goulding pulled it off.

February 26th 2010: Ellie Goulding released her debut album Lights in her native United Kingdom, but despite the title, the record does not include the song of the same name.

November 29th 2010: Lights is reissued as Bright Lights, and “Lights” made its debut as one of six bonus tracks tacked on to the original 10-track album. Sales for the album jumped up in the U.K., thanks in large part to it now including her popular cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.”

January 20th 2011: The video for “Lights” is released on Goulding’s YouTube channel. It was going to be the first single from the Bright Lights reissue, but the label opted to push “Your Song” instead.

March 8th 2011: The album is released as Lights in the United States, with a different running order that places “Lights” as the album’s lead-off track.

March 13th 2011: “Lights” is released as Goulding’s sixth single in the United Kingdom. The song ended up doing okay in the U.K. market, but it’s still not as popular as her other singles over there.

April 29th 2011: Goulding performed at a private dinner for Prince William and Kate Middleton following their wedding earlier that day. She didn’t sing “Lights,” but this gig went a long way toward boosting the singer’s profile.

May 7th 2011: Goulding performed “Lights” and “Your Song” on Saturday Night Live. This was the singer’s first major U.S. television appearance (Tina Fey, incidentally, was the host).

July 14th 2011: The video for the Bassnectar remix of “Lights” hit YouTube. There are dozens of EDM remixes of the song, but Bassnectar’s is the most popular.

January 18th 2012: Goulding sang “Lights” on Late Show with David Letterman.

February 15th 2012: News broke that Goulding is romantically involved with dubstep superstar Skrillex, prompting widespread gossip media coverage.

March 27th 2012: “Lights” was certified gold by the RIAA for digital single sales.

April 11th 2012: Goulding performed “Lights” with a string section on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

May 2nd 2102: The digital single for “Lights” was certified platinum by the RIAA.

July 16th 2012: “Lights” was certified double-platinum.

August 9th 2012: Goulding released the lyrics video for “Anything Could Happen,” the first single from her next album Halcyon, which is coming out in October.

August 13th 2012: “Lights” hits Number One on Billboard’s On-Demand Songs chart, which measures plays on streaming services such as Spotify.

August 15th 2012: Flo Rida’s “Whistle” ends Carly Rae Jepsen’s long reign at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, while Goulding holds firm at Number Two. As a consolation, she has hit Number One on the Radio Songs chart.

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