It’s been ten years since the release of Alright Still, Lily Allen’s debut album, which burst onto the scene with an irreverent cheer, cheeky riffs and even cheekier lyrics. Featuring soft melodic pop with ska and reggae influences, the album inspired a host of copy-cat British songstresses who capitalized on the popularity of the ballsy lyrics and catchy hooks.
I don’t think anything she’s done since has achieved the same popularity, critical or fan-wise. Furthermore, Alright Still was an album that stood on its own merits, just as Allen was launched into the public eye, while her later work has somewhat been overshadowed by her rather abrasive personality.
The record was a refreshing alternative to the synthesised, same-sounding pop of 2006. (I just had to remember to censor out the swearwords when singing along in public!)
“Smile” is probably the most well-known offering from the album, a pseudo-cheery single about Allen’s game face (or attempt at) in the face of an ex who treated her like crap but now wants her back because he’s lonely. It’s the ultimate song about the sweetness of revenge, or at least knowing that you’re so over the desperate schmuck who should have known better.
“LDN” has an uplifting, upbeat old-timey melody, but is another satirically optimistic song. The song is about what appear to be happy situations in London, only for them to turn horribly wrong. It’s an ode to the city if there ever was one. “Not Big” stands as a contrast to so many ubiquitous rap/hip-hop/pop songs about men and their manhoods. It was about time we had the put-down of all put-downs. (I know, I know – fighting with fire and all that, but you can’t deny your secret glee at the girls getting their own back.)
“Everything is Wonderful” is one of my favourites, with a quick beat and super-catchy lyrics that I think would work well as an anthem for today’s millennial generation:
I wanna get a flat I know I can’t afford it,
It’s just the bureaucrats who won’t give me a mortgage,
Well it’s very funny cos I got your fucking money,
And I’m never gonna get it just because of my bad credit
Oh well I guess I mustn’t grumble,
I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
“Alfie” is a song that still makes me chuckle. It’s a ditty to her beloved little brother who spends his time smoking weed and watching television. Of course, Alfie Allen is now probably a bigger star than his big sister, starring as Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. Westeros is a long way from his marajuana-scented childhood bedroom of ten years prior, that’s for sure.
Riddled with a dark sense of humour, Alright Still was an original, witty breath of proverbial fresh air. We’ll see if Allen recaptures the magic with her future offerings!