Darling Lily

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Something that surprises me is how surprised other people are to learn that I have been a devoted fan of Lily Allen for several years now. OK, I acknowledged months ago that my music collection is dominated by earnest British dudes, but what, I'm not allowed to have nuances and layers?

"I just thought you'd find her a bit...young. And frivolous," one friend said. "I thought I'd be able to convince you eventually that you'd like her, but I never imagined you would've discovered her and grown to like her on your own," another told me.

But I did. I was intrigued by the reviews I read of her first album, Alright, Still--it kept showing up in all these "Top Ten Albums of 2006" lists. So when it was finally released in the US, I bought it, 'cause what the hell else was I going to do with twelve dollars and change?

And I LOVED it. OK, there were a couple of totally stinky songs on it that frankly I prefer not to think about. But overall, the album was so...cheerfully foul-tempered. So seriously frivolous. So innocently filthy. I loved the contradictions.

I would have said that NO ONE could ever improve on the way the Smiths would match really poppy, happy, upbeat music with totally dark lyrics, but Lily is pretty good at it in her own way. "Alfie" is my favorite song on the first album, an aggressively happy, boppy song sung to and about her little brother, Alfie, who sits in his room all day smoking and doing drugs. It has this really annoying grammatical redundancy (my mon frere), but I can forgive that, 'cause I just love the song SO MUCH.

The new album, It's Not Me, It's You came out in February. I was well aware of the release date, though I didn't buy as soon as it was released--I waited until I got my tax return, because there were other things I could do with twelve dollars and change until the check from the feds arrived.

Anyway. INMIY is a consistently stronger album, a less goofy album, a more mature album; I can acknowledge that. But one reason it's stronger, less goofy and more mature is that some of the contradictions that delighted me so on the first album have been uncontradicted. INMIY doesn't charm me the way AS does, though I'm happy to listen to either.

Ms. Allen has earned a reputation for saying outrageous things. Sunday The Guardian UK published a list of some such things. And back in December they offered a video of her doing a photo shoot.

If you aren't already familiar with Ms. Allen's music, might I suggest this unembeddable but still amusing video of LDN in which she rhymes "al fresco" with "Tesco" (a British grocery store, fyi, which makes me wonder: what cool word rhymes with Safeway? Or Wegmans?)

I am a fan of this video, of "Not Fair":

And while I LOVE the song "Fuck You," the official video for it is fairly lame. Much better is this "big fat gay collab":

I hope that if you were not already a fan, you will be after that.

2 Comments

I haven't heard her first album, but I went out and bought the latest one after hearing Fuck You. I'm not generally that into pop, but I really like this one. It's funny to me that it's pop message music - usually message music is all folksy (which I also like) or overly serious and far too sincere.

I feel like It's Not Me It's You kind of embodies the politics of the up-and-coming generation. Since I went to college rather late, I'm quite "young" (read: immature) for my age, and I spent a lot of time working with teens, I feel like I've got one foot in that generation and one foot in my ACTUAL generation. Her album is really indicative of the way they deal with things: kind of lighthearted and fun, but willing to put it all out there, say what they think, and stand up for what they believe in - a technicolor, candy-flavored "fuck you" to anyone who has a stick up their ass.

Hi Rebecca--

I hope you've had time to listen to Lily's first album and get to like it by now. I actually plan to write a long response to this about pop music, but I've been busy dealing with a sick cat and my papers for Sunstone.... maybe in August I'll get it written.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on July 8, 2009 7:25 AM.

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