Notes On… Lily Allen’s ‘Hard Out Here’

She’s back and she’s bad, like always. If you want an oxymoron all you have to do is look in the direction of Lily Allen. Last week she was gracing our television screens with her beautiful version of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane with fluffy bears and little hares running about a frozen Winter forest. This week we hear her ranting about equality, diversity and expectations.

The parental guidance logo on the opening of the video sums it up, the potty mouthed diva is back and she’s going to put the world to rights. She’s touched on it before, the expectations of women in show-business are very different to those of men. ‘Hard Out Here’ dives straight in at the deep end with the music video showing Allen in the middle of some liposuction. “We’ll get you fighting fit” says her agent as he explains she hasn’t made it onto the Letterman show or even cut it with Kimmel. Her response, “I’ve had two babies.” And the tirade begins.

She’s touched on it before in ‘Everything’s Just Wonderful’, from her third album, the expectations of women in society are ridiculously high and unreasonable. “I wanna be able to eat spaghetti Bolognese without feeling bad about it for days and days and days.” The lyrics from her 2009 track shows that even before having her children, Allen found the beauty standards set out by the elite ridiculous and restrictive to a point where even touching a carb spiralled her into a pit of depression.

Her new single is a completely new Allen. The raw hate from before has been turned into a society hating dance anthem. The acoustic guitars and soft vocals are long gone, the cleverly worked swear words that before weren’t too offensive are now littered throughout the song. For a lifelong Lily Allen fan like me, this new phase in her music career has left a bitter taste in my mouth. The ironic values of the song outweigh the excellent lyrics and opinions that she shares with her audience.

For me, this song is wasted. The radio edit will presumably be filled with empty pauses, ruining the fluidity of the song. Allen has a valid point that she has raised in all of her albums, but this time it goes too far. A young female demographic would benefit massively from hearing this song, but many won’t because of the profuse swearing and the sexual nature of the video.

Perhaps this could just be a massive oversight, but it begs the question, what is the tone of the album? I hope for my own sake that it has some classic Allen tracks. The witty remarks, the smooth rhymes and the mellow pop sounds are why I fell in love with her music. Hearing her accent ring through the tracks made the music so pure and simple leaving me disillusioned as to why her new single is verging on a club anthem. Beyonce managed to set the world straight about how women deserve to be treat in “Put a ring on it” with an added cheeky edge. It’s a shame that Allen hasn’t taken the high road and chosen to do the same.

words by Rachel Williamson

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