The phrase "spread like wildfire" has never been more apt. Lily Allen is a 21 year old singer/songwriter from London. She has very quickly progressed from MySpace favourite to air-wave hogger. The speed at which Lily's fame has grown makes the Arctic Monkeys' rise to fame look like a tortoise running the London marathon. But what if you live under a rock? Who is Lily Allen? Well, I'll tell you…
Lily's music has been described as ska/pop. I first discovered her about a month or so ago when MySpace listed her as a featured artist. This label of ska/pop had me intrigued, so I had to check her out. I'm glad I did. This is the odd thing about Lily's sound, it seems to reach a huge demographic; underground heads dig the ska sounds, head nodding beats, and fresh lyrics, while more mainstream pop fans love it for the catchy pop sounds. Hell, even my Mum likes her! Comparisons have been made with Ms Dynamite and Mike Skinner (of The Streets), but if someone had recommended Lily Allen to me by way of those comparisons, I may not have checked her out – she is more deserving of uniqueness than that.
Lily started out on MySpace, posting up a few songs for anyone to listen to, but before long the internet grapevine had started to work it's magic and things really snowballed, so much so that in December of 2005 she signed a record deal with Regal (a division of Parlophone Records) and as of right now over 250,000 people have viewed her MySpace page and her tracks have been played on there over a million times! Make no mistake though, Lily isn't trying to get ahead of herself, she is surprised as anyone by the speed at which her career is moving.
Another great part of her MySpace page is the blog she regularly updates. It contains very frank thoughts on what she has been up to and what she thinks. In a recent entry she shows clear hurt at some comments certain journalists have written about her. You see, Lily's observational style lyrics detail her surroundings, much in the way that Mike Skinner writes. But… Lily is the daughter of comedian Keith Allen and had quite a middle-class (for want of a better expression) up-bringing in Islington, London. This is where the backlash occurs – in her debut single, LDN (that was released on 24th April), she sings about pimps and crack-whores – the said journalists claim that Lily is trying to show herself as someone raised on the mean streets of London. However, within her blog, Lily is quick to explain that she doesn't try to hide her middle-class upbringing and never intended to show herself as something that she isn't – Lily merely sings about her observations as she travels around London. Fair enough, I think you'll agree. It is just apparent that Lily is very new to fame, and like any human, is feeling the strain of the press, both negative and positive. But this form of honest connection with her fans, via her MySpace blog, is a very unique way for an artist to conduct themself. All too often an artist's life remains shrouded in secrecy, with only tabloids and magazines to show us who they are dating – but then I guess this is where the role of the internet revolution is played, and I think it works well. Obviously only time will tell if Lily remains this open about her new music life, but for now her fans are loving it.
So, what's next? Well, her debut album Alright Still is due out on 17th July and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.co.uk, before that her next single Smile is due out on 10th July. Lily has also been performing on the Yo Yo night at Notting Hill Arts Centre in West London, if you want to go, make sure you get there early, plenty of people were turned away at the first show! All details of her up-coming gigs are on her MySpace page.
I think her album will be a summer smash in the UK – will just be interesting to see which way she goes in the future, pop princess or urban legend? Probably both!