La Roux is a British synth-pop act best known for “Bulletproof,” a song that debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart. Initially comprised of singer Eleanor Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid, the act has been active since 2006. With over 14 years in the industry, it can be overwhelming to look back at such a long and successful career. Here is a brief recollection of La Roux’s history, from the formation of the act to the present day.
Jackson and Langmaid were introduced to each other in 2006 by a mutual friend. They began writing acoustic music, with their first project “Automan.” By the time the pair began working on what would become their debut album, their style switched to more electronic and synth-pop oriented.
The name “La Roux” alludes to Jackson’s hair color and tomboyish appearance. “Le roux” (masculine) means red in French, while “la” is an article used for feminine nouns.
First Album – 2009
After signing to Polydor Records, the act released eponymous debut album La Roux. It was nearly an instantaneous commercial success. The album itself reached number two on the UK Albums Chart, and number seven on the Irish Albums Chart, eventually certifying platinum in both countries. Of the four singles released from the album, “Bulletproof” peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart and certified gold, while “In for the Kill” reached number two on the same chart.
“Bulletproof” also received attention across the ocean. The song was released in the United States a couple of months after its initial release, and it topped Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs Chart. It even reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2011, La Roux won a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album.
Langmaid’s Departure and Trouble in Paradise – 2014
La Roux announced their second studio album, Trouble in Paradise, to their eager and long-expecting fans in April 2014. This might not have come as a shock to many watchful eyes, as a few weeks prior Tim Jonze, columnist for The Guardian, tweeted about listening to the new album and described it as “bloody brilliant.”
During promotions for the new album, Jackson revealed publicly that she and Langmaid had parted ways, and that La Roux was officially a solo act. Looking at old tweets from both parties, it is clear that it was not a smooth and peaceful parting. Responding to a tweet about Ian Sherwin, Langmaid replied “The guy’s an idiot. He’s the reason I left.” Sherwin is credited as a writer on three tracks on Trouble in Paradise and quickly replaced Langmaid as Jackson’s closest working partner.
The album itself was a commercial success, though not as groundbreaking as La Roux. It still has much to boast––it debuted at number six on the UK Albums Chart, number 20 on the US Billboard 200, and topped the Dance/Electronic Albums chart.
Jackson was dropped by Polydor in 2015, only a few months after the release of Trouble in Paradise. Jackson launched her own independent record label, Supercolour Records, on which she released her third studio album.
The album, Supervision, was released in February of 2020. This was Jackson’s first album recorded entirely as a solo act. While reviews were generally positive, some music critics commented on the album’s repetitiveness. It was not as successful as the previous two albums, but still boasted reaching number 20 in UK and 85 in Germany.