What is it about Lily Allen?
It’s the words…
I love words and those that she writes are brilliant. Not only that, but she delivers them so clearly that even I can get most of them by ear. (I often have a processing problem with lyrics and need to have them in text too.)
Sometimes Lily’s lines are fun and even a bit silly, but that’s OK as she contrasts them with deeper themes. Adding that bit of light means that we can deal with the dark. The songs that she has written cover diverse themes such as internet trolls, our consumerist culture and fascination with celebrities. Her observations on the latter echo back to the “cult of the celebrity” described by Russell Brand in this amazing interview with Jeremy Paxman.
Her social commentary
In this Beats 1 interview Lily talks about the “weird times” that we’re in and wonders if “anyone has noticed?”. She describes how few people speak out about problems in our society and of our tendency to ignore. (I agree, some do ignore, but others with their “I’m alright, Jack.” attitude are even worse…) During interviews and online, as well as through her music, Lily is very outspoken.
A few of my favourites
The Fear is the first one I heard where I thought what an interesting and intelligent turn of phrase! Clearly written about our age of consumerism with lines such as “I am a weapon of massive consumption.”, also bringing in the “Cult of the Celebrity” with gems such as “I don’t do clever, I don’t do funny.”. My favourite line is probably “I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore.”… A perfect reference to our baffling society!
Trigger Bang ft. Giggs
Whilst listening to some UK rappers (I’ll write about them another time…) on Youtube the other day, I came across one of her recent tunes… Trigger Bang ft. Giggs (included in her upcoming album ‘No Shame’. I don’t (100%) understand what Giggs is on about but I love his warm voice.
The lyrics and images of Trigger Bang appear to give a genuine account as to how Lily has been caught up in danger and toxic environments, but now recognises her need to gently distance herself with lines such as “I’m gonna love you and leave some.”. There are some interesting references here such as “LDN’s burning.”. Perhaps this was written after the Grenfell Tower incident (where she volunteered in the aftermath) or maybe it is more of a general observation? I’m not sure…
22 is great too, but perhaps depressing if taken at face value. In an interview with Miranda Sawyer in The Guardian Lily explains that it refers to women who are about thirty and don’t know what to do with themselves. Lines such as “She’s got an alright job, but it’s not a career.” and “There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say.” reflecting their discontent. Being over forty now and an optimist, I like to see this only as one perspective from which the voice and thoughts of the character she’s portrayed are coming through. It does not have to be this way!
There’s the music too…
If the lyrics are not tempting enough, musically there’s an excellent fusion going on too. Usually you will find an element of pop (probably the dominant sound), but there’s sometimes reggae, hip-hop, rap, Ska and even country and western mixed in. No one could accuse her of being samey.
I had always listened to bits of Lily Allen’s songs here and there, and now more often than before. Some of the sounds I love and some are not really my thing, but with everything she’s written I’ve thought “these words are special”.
So do click on the links and enjoy them! Please share your thoughts on the lyrics and the melodies too.