What do 2014's top songs tell us? No. 2: Ghost - Ella Henderson


2. Ghost

After coming sixth in last year's X-Factor, Ella Henderson was signed by Sony records. Her debut single 'Ghost', recorded on her 18th birthday, went straight to number one in the UK charts. The song draws on supernatural imagery right from the beginning:

I keep going to the river to pray
'Cause I need something that can wash all the pain
And at most I'm sleeping all these demons away
But your ghost, the ghost of you
It keeps me awake

The lyrics allude to the power of prayer and the image of going to the river could hint at the cleansing power of baptism. But it's not God that haunts the young singer, but rather a relationship gone wrong. Again the gravitas of biblical language is invoked: "I had to go through hell... had to meet the devil just to know his name".

The same borrowing of religious language to describe romance is used in 'Take me to Church' by Hozier, another of this year's big hits. Perhaps this signals a search for a new lexicon. When 'Everything is Awesome' we run out of superlatives, as the Lego movie soundtrack reminded us, and it is in the language of worship that we find words to express ourselves. Perhaps it is also because we crave a love that can mirror the divine love that haunts our hopes and dreams.