Monday, August 31, 2009
Potential Personified: Lily Allen
Daughter of a famous UK comedian, Lily Allen has emerged as one of the brightest lights on the UK Pop scene.
Though lacking the raw talent of British counterpart Amy Winehouse, Allen writes with a scathing, unmistakably Anglo wit that recalls the best work of Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker.
She's clearly in love with art and music, liberally quoting from reggae, house, calypso, post-rock, country/western, pop, and trance. Her mind is open to anything. Nothing is off-limits.
She's born of privilege, yet she sings with a Mockney accent. She knows she's lucky, but wishes she came from the streets. Still, she didn't, and she's ok with this, and you never doubt that artists from the street will recognize her as one of their own.
Her untrained voice is breathy and rough, yet angelic, and she possesses a natural sex appeal that screams "I'm quite alright with myself as I am." Fake tits? Not a chance. She doesn't need them. Her wide-set eyes suggest the coolness of a reptile, but they're as big as the sky. Her brain lets you know she's in charge. Is she pretty? Yes... maybe... who knows? Who cares?
As Amy Winehouse struggles with drug addiction, Lily Allen seems poised to succeed over the long haul. Like Madonna nearly 30 years ago, Allen is almost a completely realized artist with a clear vision of what she wants to achieve. Would the Madonna of 1983 suffered a fool? Of course not. While Amy Winehouse surrendered her talent to a junkie boyfriend, Allen has glided over a series of men, completely unwilling to sacrifice her identity. Just as Madonna has dumped destructive influences, so has Allen.
Check out this sympathetic remix of "The Fear," by Dr. Rosen Rosen. His uncommisioned mix of synthetic piano and strings give the song a timeless quality that exceeds the official album mix.
Her lyrics remind you of what your life was like when you were twenty-two, endlessly searching for the right "one," trying to figure out the meaning of life, and hoping to carve out a place in the world you could call your very own.
She's the cool girl you wanted in college, completely infatuated with art and music (and herself), dressing in a style all her own, blissfully unconcerned with being "popular." She didn't have a boyfriend. She didn't seem to care. She knew where she was going, and understood that older men would help her arrive at her destiny. You didn't stand a chance. You longed for her, but she was always out of reach. Still, you're glad things worked out as they did, because no man could tolerate the drama she craved, nor the isolation she constructed, and there would never be room enough for the both of you in her world.
This is Lily Allen.