The 11th Doctor, Matthew Smith (from the BBC’s long-running “Doctor Who”), has noted that “every artistic venture is a risk, and it has to be that way.” But pairing two performers with such contrasting voices and styles as Ellie Goulding and Andra Day...? There is no middle ground for such a bold play, it’s either a grand slam or a strike out.
Ellie Goulding is an unstoppable, award-winning musical force with an angelic presence. She’s opened for U2, performed on “Saturday Night Live,” appeared on the soundtrack to “Fifty Shades of Grey” and with videos like “Love Me Like You Do,” “On My Mind,” and “Burn” she has racked up well over a billion views on YouTube. Her pristine vocals make her a prime choice for remixing and she is both adored and respected by her fans and peers alike.
Andra Day, on the other hand, is a soulful powerhouse who (after nearly 15 years of hard work) is coming out of nowhere. A former Vocal Performance major at the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in San Diego, California, Andra first caught the attention of the world when her cover of Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best” rocketed all the way up to No. 2 on the YouTube Music Charts and led to her signing with Warner Bros. Records. Her debut, Cheers to the Fall, was only released six months ago, yet Rolling Stone has already named her one of “10 New Artists You Need to Know” and she’s been compared to such legends as Eartha Kitt, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, and Adele.
Andra Day took the stage first, embodying elegance and poise. She opened with a soul-scorching fire that blazed a path for her partner in song to enter. Ellie Goulding strutted in, looking to be Andra’s arch rival, dressed in black and radiating a fearsome confidence. However, when the two contrasting entities collided live on stage for a mash-up of “Rise Up” and “Love Me Like You Do,” as ELO might say, it was “Strange Magic!”
Ellie’s husky sweetness served as a gorgeous overtone for the growling low tones of Day. Together the two voices merged to weave the most curious vocal tapestry of the evening. When all was said and sung, the pairing definitely was a head-scratcher, but was it a grand slam or a strike out... that part is yours to decide. [See the video above to refresh your memory of the performance.]