SONG MEANING: “Army” is about Ellie Goulding’s best friend of ten years. It’s a song to that friend, letting her know how much she means to Goulding. But my theory is that it’s also to her fans. Keep reading to see why and to see Ellie Goulding’s Instagram account post about this song.
Ellie Goulding’s putting out a new album, and I couldn’t be more excited. I love her music, and I’m a fan of the way she crowd-sourced “Lights” and other songs, allowing anyone to freely remix them. Her grass-roots tactics and awesome fresh pop sound have served her well, and now she’s released “Army” on her route to releasing her album Delirium, which is coming out in four days!
I’ve added “Army” and many other recent hits to my Spotify playlist “Clifford Stumme’s Pop Prerogative.” You can also follow the list: Follow the playlist.
The Meaning of “Army”
The main point behind “Army” is that when Ellie Goulding is with her friend, she feels like she’s got an army at her back. She posted about the song on her Instagram:
Ellie’s done the hard work for us. Thanks to her, we know that she met this person in college, and they’ve been friends since then. At the end of her post, she explains the title of her song: when they’re together, Goulding feels like she has an army beside her.
Who is the best friend?
[Since writing this, several have argued that it couldn’t be Lissie Maurus and that Genius.com is wrong. The debate continues, but please take the mentions of Maurus with a grain of salt. Thank you!]
The Double Meaning
But here’s the double meaning I’ve found. Notice how the post begins “To my fans” and ends addressed to the friend? I think this post is also about her fans. The person this song is too was at her first gig–where the first fans would have been–and parts of the description fit a concert atmosphere.
However, this best friend definitely is real (just in case anyone wanted to challenge the existence of Lissie Maurus); Goulding mentions them being “[t]wo girls from Hereford” which is a city in England. That description doesn’t apply to Goulding and her fans since many of the fans are male and not from Hereford. So, the song is definitely partially about Maurus and possibly partially about the fans as well.
My theory is that Ellie Goulding wants the song to have two meanings: one for her friend and one for her fans. By combining the two, she’s giving her fans a huge compliment and broadcasting her love for her friend for all to hear.
Which do you think it’s about or do you agree with me? Let me know below. Thanks!
But enough of the big picture, let’s get into the lyrics. In the First Verse, Ellie Goulding sings, “I know that I’ve been messed up / You never let me give up.” She appreciates her friend’s persistence and insistence on Goulding doing well. Goulding’s been through “fights” and “breakups” but Maurus stayed by her.
Goulding says that Maurus “always had to call up” which likely means that Maurus called Goulding when she sensed something was wrong–maybe Goulding wasn’t open about her struggles all the time. But she could count on Maurus to watch out for her.
In comparison to Lissie, Ellie feels a little bit like a “child” or a “pain.” She was afraid and nervous around Maurus because she thought Maurus was so cool. Despite this, Maurus stayed with Goulding and they had good times together–“Know that we don’t look like much / But no one f**ks it up like us.”
Verse 2: When they met, Goulding was “16” and Maurus “never even judged” her. Goulding sings that she “always though you were too cool for me.” Since then, they’ve had some wild parties (been “drunk on the floor”) and survived gossip (“[w]e both know what they say about us”).
In the Chorus, Ellie Goulding conveys one specific idea: “When I’m with you / I’m standing with an army.” When she’s with Lissie (or her fans according to my theory), she feels strong and like someone’s got her back. She’s wildly confident because this friend has been so accepting and supportive of her.
In the Third Verse, she sings, “Dark times, you could always find the bright side”–Maurus was/is optimistic. She’s also willing to sacrifice “[j]ust to be there for” Goulding. Next, Goulding gives us a funny detail about Maurus: “How you cringe when you sing out of tune / And yet it’s everything / So don’t change a thing.” Their friendship is solid, and Goulding wouldn’t have Lissie Maurus be any different as a person.
The song concludes with a bridge, a few choruses, and a refrain that all get at one point: “When I’m with you / I’m standing with an army.” “Army” is about that one-woman (or possibly fan-based) army that Goulding needs and loves so much.
Thanks for reading about “Army” by Ellie Goulding! Please don’t forget to share, like, and follow on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog. I have an insider e-mail list where I ask for your help to explain pop songs and let you know about new posts and podcasts. When you sign up, you’ll get a copy of my “Top 10 Tips to Help You Decipher Pop Music”!
Clifford Stumme has his master’s in English literature and is a blogger and a college instructor/desk-watcher at Liberty University. He likes juggling and reading/writing, and he is married to the wonderful and beautiful Wife April. He thinks pop music is awesome. Seriously awesome.