Hounded by the tabloids and very active on Twitter, Lily Allen is one of the most refreshingly outspoken figures in British pop, and countless articles on, videos of and interviews with her have amassed since she first emerged in 2005 on MySpace.
This was the year YouTube was set up and the year Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp acquired My Space for $580 million. In fact, she memorably referred to Murdoch as ‘Voldemort’ in 2016.
We probed that mass of content in an attempt to find 10 things you (possibly) didn’t know about her ahead of the release of her fourth studio album ‘No Shame’ on June 8th.
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Her cover of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ has never sat too well alongside the rest of her material. In 2013 she disparaged it as ‘shrill’ and un-listenable, though it seems to have its admirers among newlyweds and karaoke singers. She did sing it, however, at a poignant tribute to MP Jo Cox. She recently claimed in an interview with ‘Vulture’ that she felt ‘bullied’ into doing the John Lewis ad, suggesting there are label dynamics and legal issues at play too. The whole interview is worth a read.
Lily Allen has a storied involvement with Glastonbury Festival. She allegedly ran away from boarding school at 14 in order to attend. Eight years later she’d find herself on the newly-inaugurated Park Stage and on the Pyramid Stage with members of The Specials. She’s played several times since and made headlines in 2015 for, so we’re told, dressing up in a penis costume, collapsing and inadvertently singeing her eyebrows with a gas stove.
Leaving aside the predictably crass tabloid coverage, she did burn a flag emblazoned with ‘Fuck Off Kanye’ until it read only ‘Kanye’. The ‘Sheezus’ singer claimed she was ‘keeping the #peezus’. She recently branded the rapper’s return to Twitter as ‘fascinating’ in the interview with Vulture, which wasn’t sufficiently guarded a response to escape a slew of rehashed articles about it.
She left school at 15, and there’s a clear autodidactic streak within her. Since then she has studied horticulture, wishing to become a florist, though like some of the more outrageous stories here, it could be apocryphal. Intriguingly, she has a flower named after her: the Lily Allen Popstar, a vivid orange and black variety. ‘Lily Allen’ is only the trade name because apparently you can’t call a lily Lily. She also (allegedly) sold ecstasy in Ibiza as a teen.
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Despite claiming that ‘Colabs are so fucking thirsty these days’ in 2014, the singer has worked with Giggs on 2018 banger ‘Trigger Bang’ and featured on albums by the likes of Pink!, Professor Green and Robbie Williams. Collaborations with Miley Cyrus, Marina and the Diamonds and Wiley have failed to materialise as of yet, though the rapper assumed the role of clairvoyant when he said, ‘You will see a track from us in the future.’ That was October 2008.
She leant her skills to the domain of sumo-wrestling when she grappled with Nick ‘Grimmy’ Grimshaw a few years ago. Footage does exist online, we’re sure. In an entertaining interview with the Arctic Monkeys at T in the Park (R.I.P.) 2007, she claimed she’d formed a group with Alex Turner ‘Rupert The Band’. Turner had equally facetiously claimed to the Mirror that a group made up of him, Allen, Dizzee Rascal and James Righton of Klaxons was being set in motion. Turner and Allen did actually wind up featuring on Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Maths + English’.
In 2006 she wrote on her blog, “Boys, your regurgitated indie rock days are numbered so get over yourselves.” – a prophetic statement that could do with being wheeled out every couple of years. The intended recipients were Carl Barât and The Kooks. Of singer Luke Pritchard, she said caustically: “There is no excuse for wearing broken straw hats and dark sunglasses two storeys underground of Alexandra Palace while strumming your guitar like you're treating everyone to an exclusive showcase for your next album - this is a dressing room and you're not Jim fucking Morrison, okay! I don't want to hear your rendition of Waterloo Sunset four times in an afternoon."
The singer has a knack for wry impersonations – on YouTube you’ll find Keira Knightley (yet to meet said James Righton back in 2008), Cheryl (with whom she once had a spat; the pair now seem to have reconciled) and Dannii Minogue. For Complex Magazine, she starred in a guide to British accents.
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Much to the chagrin of the gutter press, Allen visited Calais in 2016 and said what many had been thinking when she apologised ‘on behalf of my country’ to an unaccompanied child. Recently she has become embroiled in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which happened in an area of West London very familiar to her.
Her spats are well-trodden territory, but highlights include those with thug Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins, Piers Morgan. The singer reached the acme of her cattiness in the late noughties, where she sparred with Azealia Banks and Katy Perry among others, before stating: "I have Katy Perry’s number, someone did me a favour. I’m just waiting for her to open her mouth one more time then it hits Facebook."
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Lily Allen will release new album 'No Shame' on June 8th.
Words: Wilf Skinner
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