Lily Allen – a Myspace breakthrough artist done good
Lily Allen climbed to fame as a Myspace breakthrough artist. Music was always her means of escape, and she was friends with the internet, so Myspace was a natural home for her. She says of herself as a young girl: “I was very lonely actually. I went to 13 different schools so never had time to make enduring friendships. Music became a lifeline to me.”
Lily has pretty good music taste, and a lot of the old stuff influences her music, as well as her rocky upbringing. “I listened to punk, ska and reggae when I grew up, courtesy of my parents’ record collections. We moved around London and I absorbed all the music around me. I got expelled from various schools and was sent to boarding school as they thought it would be a restraining influence, but I ran away to Glastonbury and other places when I was 14. I was into jungle and drum and bass. It was obvious I didn’t like authority. I guess I knew from an early age that I could never do a job where I’d have to sit in an office all day long.”
Lily finally left school at 15 when it became obvious her creative needs were not being met. “I always read a lot. It was frustrating moving schools so much because I always felt I couldn’t articulate my feelings as much as I wanted to. Books and music helped me do that. I became obsessed by quite arcane subjects, like second world war evacuation stories and books about 18th century aristocracy. I started to feel like I could have a voice. But I wanted to write about my own world in an entertaining way. So I did.”
“There was a little old lady who was walking down the road
She was struggling with bags from Tesco
There were people in the city having lunch in the park
I believe that is called alfresco
Then a kid came along to offer a hand
But before she had time to accept it
Hits her over the head, doesn’t care if she’s dead
‘Cause he’s got all her jewelry and wallet”
Lily’s incisive lyrical observations belie her years. “A lot of female artists, and male ones for that matter, are boring singers who don’t say anything. Certainly not to my generation. With the kind of music I do you have to be direct and quite literal. I don’t play an instrument, which really makes me focus on the vocal melody, and the lyrics are incredibly important to me. I don’t want to be part of a scene… the whole idea of that makes me feel sick… and most of the music I listen to is by outsider figures, which is where I feel happiest.”
Even a quick shufti at Lily Allen’s site shows a damn solid appreciation of diverse music. Listed amongst a host of current and unsigned dance artists are names like The Specials, Rip Rig and Panic, T.Rex (“possibly the best band ever, ever!”) The Slits, Blondie and Wreckless Eric. Oh, and Kate Bush “when she was my age”, Prince and Eminem.
Lily signed to Parlophone in December. “Since then it’s gone mad. The online support I got for my music grew quickly, then the next thrill was hearing it on the radio. The reaction has been so positive it’s left me reeling a bit. But I’m happy and I know the songs can live up to people’s expectations.”
Well done, lass! Now stop being so gobby about Madonna and leave the poor woman alone. Madonna might seem to have lost her bite but she should be loved for what she’s achieved in her youth, not degraded for being less influential in current times. Those who came before helped make you what you are!