By: Eric Greenwood
I was a fan of Lily Allen's long before I even heard a note of her music. Her reputation for trashing her peers and calling bullshit on the hypocrisy of the rock star lifestyle preceded her. On Pete Doherty: "I do think he needs to be exterminated." On Madonna: "She might have meant something once, but I don’t know anyone my age who cares." She can mouth off because she has the musical prowess to get away with it. And she's ridiculously cute.
Allen may be the daughter of a famous comedian (Keith Allen), but she feels no sense of entitlement for success of any kind. Her street-level wit and unforgiving observational skills pepper her eclectic music with a strange mix of worldly authenticity and girlish charm. I approached her album with trepidation, though, because I didn't want to be let down.
Just like every other aspiring musician on the planet, Allen started a Myspace page, which unpredictably catapulted her to stardom in England in late 2005. Posting her demos and blogs filled with biting rants started a frenzy of friend requests, and, although she says her record deal happened prior to her Myspace phenomenon, her success has been married to it ever since.
I bought her album based solely on her trash-talking skills. I knew going in that it was pop music, but I figured she must do something right to be able to call out the crap so consistently. And she does. Her voice is infectiously charming. Her thick British accent wraps around each syllable so effortlessly. She sounds like a female version of The Streets, except that she can sing as well as rap. It's ironic that such acerbic wit comes with such a little-girl voice.
The production couldn't be more saccharine, but what sets Allen apart from the dregs of auto-tuned pop is her knack for lyrical revenge, which she floats over sunny choruses, ska-tinged pop, and street-beat grime. It's endlessly entertaining to listen to such an effortlessly charismatic girl talk so much smack, while making it so catchy you can't stop thinking about it.