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Lass Call 

Lily Allen speaks, the kids blog, and the rest just listen

Wednesday, Oct 11 2006
If you think Lily Allen is a shameless self-promotion machine, you're half right.

Allen can boast 78,808 friends listed on her MySpace page, long-form screeds in the New York Times and New Yorker, and a stranglehold on the blogosphere since her astonishingly frank brand of everyday hip-pop first trickled into the Internet this spring. She spends her weeks in her native U.K. doing interviews, her weekends on the continent doing more of the same, and her time in between playing shows from Strasbourg to Sydney. It's like the world can't help lapping up all the juicy bits that Allen can't help dangling before it.

"I've been in intensive therapy for the last six years, so I'm kinda quite like that as a person," she says into her cell while waiting for her dinner date at a noisy London restaurant. "I don't really have a problem with discussing my life with people. I like to share." She laughs at the thought, not for the first time during our interview, like she sees through this contrived conversational dynamic, sees it as the awkward self-aggrandizing it is. "I'm not showing you everything," she continues, "but I'm probably showing you more than most people would show of themselves."

Probably — as proven by Allen's U.K.-released album, Alright, Still, her sleeve is adorned not just with her heart but with a cynicism that's so bitter it's almost sweet. The total lack of guile in her spite toward ex-boyfriends and would-be hook-ups is as confounding as it is endearing. The idea of this heartbroken, expletive-spewing, laxative-dosing vigilante angel as the new face of generation MySpace is hard to swallow. Much easier is that this is a girl who, like she says, just likes to share, and that we really like what she offers.

And it's not all about her, either. "Have you heard MIA's new remix version of 'Grapes?' It's on her MySpace," Allen says. Then once she gets going: "And you should check out Klaxons, and also Cajun Dance Party — they're amazing. And Jamie T as well." The girlish enthusiasm is infectious. But on a different topic, that of fellow Brit it-chick Lady Sovereign's upcoming Def Jam release, the enthusiasm is scathing. "I don't really rate her that much," she says. "I mean [the album] did really, really badly over here. Terribly. People find her kinda quite annoying. I suppose it'll work better in America than it does here because in England it seems really contrived because nobody speaks like that. Not even her."

Such beef is as predictable as a Big Mac, but it's fun to hear anyway. Allen's music relies on her opinions of boys and booze and breakups as much as its sunny, spun-sugar beats. "I'm really into hip hop, and there's a certain beat that music of a black origin carries and there's only so many things you can team in with hip hop, and that's why calypso and ska music work so well," she says. She's right, apparently — her ska-swinging, Clement Dodd-sampling "Smile" climbed to the top of the U.K. charts back in July.

But hold up — how can the privately schooled, well-heeled daughter of a British playboy actor make statements about "music of black origin," especially if the music's hers?

"If I was standing up there in a lady's bobbin going 'Yeah yeah yeah I'm from the streets, I carry a gun! I'm gonna stab you cuz you fucked my mum,' I think people might get offended." (Did she just freestyle that rhyme?) "But I'm not doing that, I'm just talking about boring mundane things that everyone experiences, so no one can criticize me for that. It's almost like the more boring my lyrics are, the louder they speak to people because people ultimately live really boring lives, and they relate to that."

It's another nugget from Lily Allen: Boredom is the new excitement. Hit the blogs, kids.

About The Author

Jonathan Zwickel


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