Cheeky and outspoken London singer-songwriter Lily Allen looks the part of a carefree party girl ready for a night out on the town so it is hard to imagine her, even a little, as the forlorn mum she feels like. Sometimes the plain speaking is disconcerting for the politically-correct-verging-on-hypocritically-intolerant listener but the no-nonsense audience will filter through the not-always-comfortable form. Lily says it as she feels it and means it, and so she writes and sings it. So what sometimes looks like a hint of lightness if not naivety, like her unapologetic honesty and the conviction and fight for her ideas, is bound to take on some heavier duty, well deeper meaning at least, in the ear of the discerning listener or the adoring fan. The thing is that when it comes to bringing up children, no amount of self-confidence can be unshaken by the new perspective, almost lost to our grown-up minds, and it is a pleasure to see how, to some extent, this brought a different lightness to the musical ways of the singer and lyricist. Her choices of covers, often enough involving a certain band named Keane, also establishes what is, not only her taste, but the underlying flesh of a skin not as tough as it might appear.
Lily Allen in ten songs
1. Smile The song that made Allen known to the UK and the world unveils the cheekiness and sometimes sarcasm in a deceivingly innocent tone on a bed of light and well instrumented Reggae rhythm 2. Air Balloon Often perceived as a pop lightweight compared to her previous efforts, this is nonetheless a plaisant well-produced track fitting within the contemporary culture without departing too drastically from Lily’s and a good second single for a third ever controversial studio album Sheezus 3. Everybody’s changing – This track was made popular by Keane and written by Tim Rice-Oxley, Tom Chaplin and Richard Hughes. This is one of the songs that Lily covered from the band. Other renditions include Womanizer the song popularised by Britney Spears and Who’d Have Known which is a melody better known as sung by Take That on which Lily Allen puts her own lyrics. 4. Sheezus Even through hard out Here is the critically-acclaimed lead single of Allen’s album Sheezus released 17 November 2013 thanks to its feminist themes were as praised as its perceived racist video, it is the title track (only promotionally released) that truly shows Allen’s colours with this anthem of anti-pop cultural heights sarcastically depicting some aspects from the wink at Kanye West to the mentions of current pop “queens”. There is no doubt, we miss the more alternative less pop sounds of Lily Allen but I am guessing that this album was a question of literally doubling have a go at the pop industry, so, well done. 5. LDN The Jamaican ska music, reggae and hip hop influences on her first album, brought about in her childhood by a family friend, shows again in one its hit singles here with the ska-infused LDN. 6. Not fair – A cheeky little Americana-infused number because of the addition of a great rhythm that cannot help but make us want to line-dancing. Definitely worth a listen for a definite lesson in what a girl wants 😉 , a shake and a couple more reflections 🙂 7. Alfie Not the only song about Lily’s concern about drugs (with Everyone’s At It) but this time showcases how close to home it was. The song includes a sample of the song Puppet on a string by Sandie Shaw (Eurovision entry and winner in 1967), a theme that is transferred onto the video to describe the imagery of a person on drugs. 8. F** you A dance pop number and an anthem for its anti-homophobic and anti-hateful lyrics, which meant we would not leave it out 9. The Fear (Acoustic) A number one in the UK, the Fear faired well making the Billboard 100 and various European charts. Irrevocably confirming Allen’s lyrically satiric prowess, it also packs a punch with great production and a catchy melody all surfed on by a deceptively sweet voice. 10. Somewhere Only We Know Another Keane’s track covered by Allen, this song was recorded for the John Lewis Christmas advert, a yearly UK tradition that kindles curiosity as to whose vocals would next grace the campaign as they have the tendency to make the number one spot on the UK singles charts, which this one did not miss 24th of November 2013. A portion of the song’s sales were donated to Save the Children’s Philippine Typhoon Appeal campaign.