It’s only the long-awaited return of Lily Allen(!)
We are delighted to see the proper return of Lily Allen.
For there have been a couple of false starts this year: although we absolutely loved Lily’s unforgettable furiously-chopping-vegetables middle-8 cameo in P!nk’s ‘True Love’, she was ‘officially’ credited as Lily Rose Cooper on said release. Then there is her -twee, irritatingly safe, and manufactured-solely-for-the-purpose-of-selling-an-idealised-image-of-Christmas-for-an-upmarket-department-store cover of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’. We love the original version and we like Lily’s rendition, and we also appreciate the record label wanting, and perhaps even needing, to thrust Lily back out into the mainstream after a barren 4 years of baby-raising-related silence. Yet to do this in the most unimaginative and unsubtle way not only insults the pop credentials of Lily Allen herself but also fans of her particular brand of pop, which is surely the antithesis of the John Lewis Christmas ad. (If you disagree with us on this point, ask yourself if John Lewis would advertise with a song containing the words ‘Fuck you, fuck you very very much‘.) At the very least, we can thank Lily for keeping Ellie Goulding and her ilk away from John Lewis for another year and appreciate Lily’s soothing voice, and for small mercies we must be grateful.
Parlophone’s strategy has worked wonders with Lily’s version of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ reaching UK number one. But whilst all this is occurring, whilst middle aged housewives are downloading the dainty, tinkly track onto their iPads, and telling all their friends that they simply must YouTube the John Lewis advert, Lily has quietly yet deliberately slipped out her first proper single in 4 years. ‘Hard Out Here’ is exactly what has felt lacking from pop since Marina & The Diamond’s label fucked up her ‘Electra Heart’ campaign: attitude mixed with talent, cattiness and catchiness with a real dollop of irony and sarcasm thrown in for good measure, all over some amazing beats.
From the moment the video starts, with surgeons performing liposuction on a conscious Lily, you just know that Lily is back. The gorgeous bouncy electronic sounds blend with Lily’s honey vocals perfectly to create something which, during the verses, sounds exactly like it could be from debut album ‘Alright, Still.’ Complete with signature tongue-in-cheek rhymes (‘there’s glass ceilings to break / there’s money to make’) and gorgeous little peculiarities (no-one in pop delivers an ‘uh huh’ quite like Lily), this is vintage Allen.
However, there is more to the song than meets the eye, as the bridge brings with it some Minaj-eaque autotune before the chorus drops. That chorus is the point at which we understand that Lily ‘gets it’, in such a way that too many popstars don’t. She sounds contemporary yet completely individual. There is no mistaking that we are listening to Lily Allen, yet she has ensured it sounds typically modern, and even trendsetting. Simply put, Lily delivers what we always hope Britney will, but inevitably never does. And unlike Britney, she doesn’t seem ashamed or apologetic delivering the word ‘bitch’. Combined with that irrepressible bouncy beat, and some ‘in-yer-face’ arses in the video, it makes for a devastatingly delightful combination.
We don’t want to analyse the video too much, for it is not the aim of this article, however it does holds insatiably delicious little gems such as the line ‘and if you can’t detect the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood’ being perfectly timed with some sarcastic product placement. Meanwhile the ‘Lily Allen has a baggy pussy’ balloons offer a succinct yet intelligent way to satirise Thicke.
Can we imagine the same people buying ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and ‘Hard Out Here’? No. Maybe this is Allen’s strength, the broad demographic she manages to appeal to. However, there’s no denying which Lily Allen we prefer, and we now hold extremely, ridiculously high hopes for Lily’s upcoming album. Lily you’ve done it again. You’ve made us fall back in love with you.
RATING: 10/10 and the elusive and official popfools seal of approval.