Angelic vocals, enchanting music with some mature themes.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most songs are about breaking up and lost relationships; however, "Explosion" does talk about learning "it's OK to be afraid."

Positive role models

Ellie Goulding stands apart from other contemporary artists not only for her musical talent, but also for her honest songs that are layered and original.

Not applicable
Not applicable

"Hanging On" has an unedited version that features Tinie Tempah and some profanity ("f--k"), but only a few times.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

"Figure 8" lyrics start with "Breathe your smoke into my lungs, in the back of the car with you I stare into the sun." And "Joy" says "I never seemed to learn that high makes things harder, that high I get from you." Nothing explicit, but references that could have different interpretations.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Halcyon is Brit newcomer Ellie Goulding's sophomore effort. It has a lot of mature content concerning breaking up and lost love, but the exceptional music and vocals are what really capture your attention. The unedited version of "Hanging On" features "f--k" a few times, but otherwise the album is clean. Because of the mature themes and focus on relationships, the album is best for teens and up.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Brit Ellie Goulding answers the success of her album Lights with HALCYON, her second studio album that is a masterful presentation of 14 tracks that are mostly electro-pop with captivating vocals and poetry. The album features the hit single "Lights."

Is it any good?


Like the mythical halcyon bird, Goulding glides above the anthemic music and rich electro-pop, charming the wind and sea into calmness. The music on Halcyon is emotional, with dramatic lyrics and sweeping synth-tricks and tribal booms that drive much of the album. Paired with Goulding's striking upper register that mimics the spunk and style of Dolly Parton but also the depth and vulnerability of Enya, the songs here are unlike any other music by a female artist. "Don't Say a Word" is both gritty and twinkling, and "Anything Could Happen" and "Only You" show that Goulding has the vocal capability to be intense and raw like her fellow countrywoman, Adele.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why so much music is about breaking up and the end of relationships. Why is this topic so interesting to artists?

  • Is Ellie Goulding a typical pop star? Why or why not?

  • What makes Goulding's music unique? Can you think of other pop artists that stand out from the pack?

Music details

Artist:Ellie Goulding
Release date:October 9, 2012
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:Yes

This review of Halcyon was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byVanitasFajitas February 7, 2013

Such a great album. Words can't even describe it.

This album is magical. Ellie Goulding has the voice of an angel, and writes beautiful lyrics. Anyone who doesn't like this album is insane. What I love about Ellie Goulding is that she is a modern pop artist who actually releases REAL MUSIC. She is so much BETTER than artists such as Katy Perry, Ke$ha, or Carly Rae Jepsen. Listening to this album is very relaxing. Many of the songs have a dark message behind them, indicating trouble she's experienced during a relationship. My favorite song by her is "Joy", which is on this album. I'd have to say that "I Need Your Love" is my least favorite, because it's more of a main-stream type of song. "Hanging On" is a re-make of a song by a band called Active Child. Ultimately, this album is great.
Kid, 10 years old January 26, 2013

Ellie Goulding's Halcyon

I think Ellie Goulding did a great job with this album and her last. I'm ten and I listen to it almost everyday.My parents got it for me on CD and I have it on my ipod."Hanging On" with Tinie Tempah is explicit but besides that, the album is great! I'm going to her concert next Tuesday!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old August 7, 2013

Awesome Brit goes way beyond pop expectations :)

All of Ellie Goulding's songs are clean, except for Hanging On Featuring Tinie Tempah. He says the "f word" twice and says s**t once or twice as well. Other than that, her music is great and goes way beyond the expectations of the average pop singer. Some of her songs may have a too intense theme for kids like Figure 8 which the lyrics lead people to believe that she is dealing with an obsessive, confusing relationship. This album is ok for any tweens who can block out som bad language in one of the songs. (The original song Hanging on without Tinie Tempah has no bad language:)) Also, one of the singles "Anything Could Happen" has some suggestive lyrics such as "stripped to the waste/we fall in to the river/ cover your eyes so you don't know the secret." GREAT ALBUM A MUST LISTEN
What other families should know
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide