Back in 2006, Lily Allen burst onto the music scene with her number-one debut single, ‘Smile’. Twelve years later and she has become a household name with four successful albums under her belt. We will be looking at Lily Allen’s career ‘Through The Years’.
‘Alright, Still’ (2006)
In 2005, Lily Allen signed to Regal Records, who gave her £25,000 to produce her debut album which would eventually be, ‘Alright, Still’. However, the label was unable to fully support Allen in her musical beginnings due to other commitments with the likes of Coldplay and Gorillaz. This led to Allen setting up a MySpace page where she would upload demos of the tracks she had been working on for her debut album.
This would gain fanfare for Lily Allen as she ended up gaining tens of thousands of MySpace followers after uploading demos of ‘Smile’ and ‘LDN’, which would become her first two official singles. Due to the unexpected success, Allen received more control of ‘Alright, Still’ from the label which allowed her to be more creative and steer the album in the direction she wanted to.
‘LDN’ was Lily Allen’s first unofficial single after becoming a 7″ single due to popular demand, however, it was her second official single after ‘Smile’. ‘LDN’ peaked at number six in the United Kingdom, as well as charting in various other European countries.
Lyrically, LDN is an abbreviation of London, Allen’s hometown and the single talks you through a typical bike ride through the city. This was displayed in the first music video for the track however it was the second version which got the official approval. Within the official music video, we see Allen walk through a vibrant London however by the end of the video, everything is dark and grey again.
You can watch the official video for ‘LDN’ below:
Released in December 2006, ‘Littlest Things’ was the third single to be taken from Lily Allen’s debut album, ‘Alright, Still’. The single was also accompanied by the B-sides, ‘U Killed It’ and a cover of Keane’s ‘Everbody’s Changing’. ‘Littlest Things’ was Allen’s first single to miss out on a top twenty position in the UK charts, peaking at number twenty one.
‘Littlest Things’ was produced by Mark Ronson, who was also a credited songwriter of the single. The meaning of the single was inspired by a break up between Allen and her boyfriend at the time. Lyrically, Allen sings about the phase of going through a breakup and reminiscing about the past relationship whilst being newly single.
‘Alright, Still’ received high critical acclaim back when it was released and is still deemed as a strong debut album. The album’s highlights include:
- ‘Knock ‘Em Out’
- ‘Friday Night’
- ‘Nan, You’re a Window Shopper’
- ‘Not Big’
You can listen to Lily Allen’s debut album, ‘Alright Still’ in full below:
‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ (2009)
Next, we have Lily Allen’s follow-up album, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ which was released in February 2009. Originally titled ‘Stuck On The Naughty Step’, Allen fell out of love with the original album title and came up with the album title we now know today. This sophomore album from Allen managed to avoid the second album curse, topping the UK album chart back when it was released.
‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ has since been certified triple platinum by the BPI and sold over two million copies worldwide by the end of 2009.
‘The Fear’ was the album’s lead single, being released in December 2008. It quickly became a hit single for Allen as it topped the UK Singles Chart for four consecutive weeks as well as becoming a commercial success in other countries worldwide, such as Austrailia and US.
Within the fantasy-themed music video accompanying the single, we see Allen making her way through a mansion based at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. The mansion consists of multiple butlers with a synchronized dance routine to the track and over-sized colourful gifts. Allen has stated in an interview that she hoped the music video would convey the sarcasm within the single’s lyrics.
‘Who’d Have Known’
Probably one of the album’s most underrated tracks, ‘Who’d Have Known’, became a single in November 2009. Commercially, the track didn’t perform as well as the predecessors nevertheless it is one of the most interesting tracks Lily Allen has to offer lyrically and visually. Lyrically, ‘Who’d Have Known’ is about a relationship blossoming rather unexpectedly.
Within the music video, the lyrics are twisted and conveyed into something else as we see Allen portraying as an Elton John groupie. This later turns into the ‘Who’d Have Known’ singer stalking Elton John and eventually kidnapping him.
For a sophomore album, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ has become quite a defining album within Lily Allen’s musical career, managing to spin out five international singles. Other album highlights include:
- ‘Everyone’s At It’
- ‘Never Gonna Happen’
- ‘Not Fair’
You can listen to Lily Allen’s sophomore album, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ in full below:
Now we won’t talk too much about this album as Lily Allen has recently opened up about going through an identity crisis whilst producing this album. This would then lead to her looking back at ‘Sheezus’ and not liking the album – at all.
However, we would like to discuss the album’s lead single, ‘Hard Out Here’ as it displays a perfect message within the corrupt music industry and the society we live in today. Peaking at number nine in the UK Singles Chart, we saw Allen make a swift comeback with this feminist anthem of a single.
Commercially, ‘Sheezus’ debuted atop of the UK Album Chart in May 2014, becoming Lily Allen’s third consecutive number one album. Some of the album’s highlights include:
- URL Badman
- Close Your Eyes
- L8 Cmmr
- Miserable Without Your Love
- Holding On To Nothing
You can listen to Lily Allen’s third number one album, ‘Sheezus’ in full below:
‘No Shame’ (2018)
Last but not least, we have the most recent album from Lily Allen, ‘No Shame‘. The album was introduced with the lead single, ‘Trigger Bang‘ released in December 2017 after it was leaked shortly before. Allen announced the album via a Beats 1 interview where she also discussed her different approach with producing the album this time around.
Allen had been recording and producing the album in her London studio as early as 2015, claiming to have no ‘outside sources’ interfere with the ins and outs of the album. However, she did team up with old industry pal, Mark Ronson once again to produce some tracks for the album.
‘Trigger Bang’ (featuring Giggs)
Surprisingly, this is Lily Allen’s first official single with a feature and it did not disappoint. With Giggs assisting the track, it was the perfect pairing for a lead single. Due to lack of promotion through choice, ‘Trigger Bang’ didn’t manage to chart however did receive moderate critical acclaim and minimal airplay.
Within the accompanying music video, we see Allen look back on her younger self with making references to past singles, ‘LDN’ and ’22’.
‘Lost My Mind’
Released a week prior to album’s release, ‘Lost My Mind’ is the only other track on the album so far to receive an accompanying music video. Although not officially confirmed as a single, ‘Lost My Mind’ has been receiving moderate airplay on BBC Radio 1.
The music video for ‘Lost My Mind’ was uploaded to Allen’s YouTube channel on 6th June 2018 and has been compared to Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ music video due to the similar upside-down visuals. Lyrically, the track has a literal meaning with Allen claiming to have lost her mind following the break up of her marriage.
‘No Shame‘ has failed to match the commercial success of Lily Allen’s previous album however that was her intention with this fourth album. Some of the album’s highlights include:
- ‘Pushing Up Daisies’
- ‘My One’
- ‘Your Choice (feat. Burna Boy)
- ‘Waste (feat. Lady Chann)
You can listen to Lily Allen’s fourth album, ‘No Shame’ in full below: