Emeli Sande: 'It's Always The Lyric That Gets Me'

Scottish singer Emeli Sande's hard work to make a name for herself in America is paying off. Her single "Next To Me" went platinum, and she's writing for artists like Katy Perry. For Tell Me More's occasional series, 'In Your Ear,' Sande shares the songs she listens to for inspiration.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Not that hair is the only thing we care about, but now we're going to hear from a singer whose signature blonde platinum coif is one of the things that makes her stand out. We're talking about singer-songwriter Emeli Sande. She had the best-selling album in Britain in 2012.

Earlier this year, she stopped by and talked to us about her signature look and her forays into the U.S. She's been doing pretty well. She's featured in the Billboard charts and she's written songs for Katy Perry and Britney Spears. So what does Emeli Sande listen to for her musical inspiration? With the occasional feature we call In Your Ear, we asked her to tell us.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVAL RECORDING)

EMELI SANDE: Hi, I'm Emeli Sande, and this is what's playing in my ear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEEL THE LOVE")

SANDE: This song was out in Britain and it's by a group called Rudimental, and they had guest vocals from John Newman. The song is called "Feel the Love." And this song is just a song I have on repeat because it's very simple. There's just kind of a hook that keeps repeating. But it's very uplifting if you hear it out, when you're dancing, it definitely lifts your spirits, and this song's very catchy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A CASE OF YOU")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEEL THE LOVE")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEEL THE LOVE")

SANDE: This song is by Joni Mitchell and it's called "A Case of You." And this song is in my ear and has been for a while because, you know, the whole album blew just - just really has inspired me as a writer. And this song in particular, "A Case of You," I know it's inspired a lot of musicians and a lot of different songwriters. But there's just something about it. I mean, it's such a poetic lyric.

And the way it's sung and the way it's been recorded is very simple. And, you know, I think each time I listen to it I hear something new about the song and it just inspires me to be as poetic when I'm writing. And, yes, this song will always be on my iPod and always be something that I come back to when I need inspiration.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A CASE OF YOU")

SANDE: In my ear, a song called "A Team" by Ed Sheeran, which I heard maybe a couple of years ago before he became, you know, so successful in the U.K.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A TEAM")

SANDE: And "A Team", again, it's always the lyric that gets me in music, and I just think it's such a clever way to tell a very sad story. And I love his voice. It's very soulful. So "A Team" is a beautiful song. I'd recommend everyone to go and listen to.

MARTIN: That was singer-songwriter Emeli Sande telling us what's playing in her ear. To hear our previous conversation with her, you can go to NPR.org/TELLMEMORE. And that's our program for today. You're listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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