The Lily Allen Argument

The case for sampled music is simple: in this plugged-in age, we lead sampled lives. We know a bit of everything and don’t see anything through; our tastes are more diverse than ever, while our attention spans are the worst they’ve been. If music is to be emblematic of the people it caters to, then Lily Allen’s albums are perfection: the product of a magpie-like modern mind, they are made up of cut-and-pasted bits of older records, fashionably retro production values, easily digestible melodies, and scoops of entertaining potty-mouthedness.

The world loves a pretty girl who swears. Give her a saucy song to sing, and you’re sorted. Lily Allen might not offer record buyers anything new, but she sells a perfectly honed sensibility, a winning combination of trashy urban aesthetics and pop discipline: her music is easy enough to whistle, yet too skilful and well-made to dismiss outright; the result, predictably, is a success.

Lily Allen is a true modern star: two albums in six years, the rest of her time spent in opening boutiques, attending awards, and doing interviews, while the cheques keep coming in. For once, though, this swanning about seems appropriate: make a product that throws in enough heritage to charm pop snobs and enough dickhead catchiness to convince lager louts, and it’s as a matter of course that the life follows soon after.

Record-collecting wretches on the internet continue to argue that her music lacks significance or depth. They are wrong; it is hugely significant: there isn’t a better cultural artefact to sum up the 21st century identity crisis, brought on by trying to find a new voice in an already noisy world. What could be more revealing of where things stand than to have an update of thirty year old music doing better on the markets than something blatantly new?

Lily Allen is pop music taken to its logical conclusion: in an artform ever given to mixing and matching with no other aim but to sell, Allen mixes and matches better than many and sells more than most. ‘Twas ever the great pop ideal. Expecting any more is like expecting Coke to be gourmet.

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17 thoughts on “The Lily Allen Argument

  1. I fucking hate Coke and I fucking hate her. I do drink it sometimes but only when there’s nothing else half-decent to drink, and I always piss it out afterwards. I wish I could do the same to her fucking music. Piss it out, wash my hands and forget all about it.

    • To Lily Allen’s credit in this comparison, listening to her brand of drivel (or say, Kanye West’s or Rihanna’s) won’t make my teeth fall out in the long run. But it might not matter if I lose my mind, go on a murdering spree and have to be put down before that.

    • They all say that, and they all become very happy when she comes on TV in knee-high boots. And then they all do the “na-na-na” bits and go to bed very, very lonely. Trust me, I’ve been there.

      • I know. I guess in pot smoking terms, most people can have a chilled out trip on her most of the time while a miserable few who have bad freakouts can’t even fathom the possibility of doing so.

      • The ratio’s just right to sell shit loads of her stuff. When I heard her for the first time in “Smile”, the chorus set my little ulcer situation back by a few months. I wanted to smack her head against J. Lo’s for “Get right”, with the hoping of making both of them… stop.

  2. Clever girl. And smokin hot. Not a bad combination. That first album’s a fucking ton of fun.

  3. “Sometimes it seems like my struggle as an artist is simply avoiding the temptation to constantly create art out of nostalgia instead of out of new constructs.” Or something.

  4. Pingback: More Moop Letters | Moop City

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