Sorry I skipped another week! No excuses, no excuses. Let’s just jump right into this week’s post, shall we?
This week I’m going to talk about some selections from Lily Allen’s sophomore album It’s Not Me, It’s You. The reason I’m not doing the entire album is because, well, it’s kind of boring. At least to me. Yes, Allen showed a lot of maturity in her songwriting and themes compared to her debut album , but sonically, there’s nothing really interesting going on. It’s an ordinary pop album. It’s mostly forgettable. But there are 3 stand out tracks I’ll be discussing here.
The first is the succinctly-titled “Fuck You,” which preceded CeeLo Green’s track of the same name by 2 years. The song has a couple of different origin stories, the first being that the song was written about the BNP (an extreme right-wing political group in the UK). The second origin story, and a much more interesting one in my opinion, starts with a song being initially titled “Guess Who Batman.” GWB. George W. Bush. Listen to the lyrics and it’s obvious that’s who the song is about. “You want to be like your father/It’s approval you’re after”? I mean, come on. Allen might have played it a little coy though because the song was first previewed on Myspace in 2008, but it didn’t come out on the album until 2009 – George W. was on his way out while Obama was on his way in. So there’s that.
The music video isn’t very interesting. This is pretty much the case with all the Allen videos from this album and even the ones from Alright, Still. This one in particular is kind of petty and has nothing to do with the themes of the song at all. Here it is anyway.
Next up is “Not Fair,” one of my favorites from this album. I still find myself returning to and enjoying it. It’s got an distinct sound right away that instantly makes you wonder if this is supposed to be a country track. It’s a great fusion of pop music with country themes that makes it stand out from the rest. Also, it’s about being in an otherwise perfect relationship that is sexually unsatisfying. Like REALLY sexually unsatisfying. I like that there’s this brief back and forth that goes on in her head where she’s asking herself if she’s just being picky (she’s not), and the frustration that comes through in the chorus is great. The video is cool thematically and fits with the sound of the track, but other than that, it’s nothing spectacular.
Lastly, we’ve got my other favorite track from this album, “The Fear.” This is one of her smartest songs, in my opinion (but then I haven’t heard anything post-It’s Not Me besides “Hard Out Here” which was a total failure as a commentary-style track). Allen adopts this character throughout the song who’s mindlessly overfed themselves on pop culture to the point of being jaded (“I am a weapon of massive consumption/It’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function”). This is made eerily clear to us early on in the song though (“I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds/I heard people die while they’re trying to find them”). This song tackles every issue related to pop culture that, even though it wasn’t that long ago, still holds true today (“Everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner”). Also, the acoustic version is fantastic – just Lily, a piano, and a guitar.
Sadly, for a song this powerful, I think the music video fails again. It just feels like Allen couldn’t decide on an emotion (total disinterest would have been my advice) much less focus on whatever she was supposed to be doing. The direction is also not that great. There are some weird cuts and when interesting things are happening, we don’t get to look at them long enough before the angle changes or the camera jumps to another shot. I’ve got a totally different vision for this video, but it’s not worth describing because, well, music videos are visual and this one is kind of complicated. Plus, that’s not what this post is about. So here’s the official video!
I don’t really recommend this album in general. I mean, give it a listen and preview it by whatever means you can, but these are the only tracks I would spend money on (if I hadn’t already spent money on the whole thing ages ago myself).