4 to Watch: Lily Allen

Music Features Lily Allen

Reggae and pop, uncensored.

Hometown: London, England
Fun fact: She’s the 21-year-old daughter of comedian Keith Allen (of mock supergroup Fat Les) and film producer Alison Owen (Sylvia, Elizabeth).
Why She’s worth watching: Like the Arctic Monkeys, Allen became so popular online that her first tiny club concert this May drew over 700 rabid fans, all before she’d released her first single.
For fans of: No Doubt, Bow Wow Wow, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley

With rising reggae/pop diva Lily Allen, what you see is most assuredly what you get. She arrives for a pre-concert interview in a billowy zebra-print sundress, huge heart-shaped earrings and loose-laced white sneakers, her long brown hair tied into a perky ponytail-it’s an image identical to the one on the cover of Alright, Still, her playful debut. The album shows off her rapier wit; across a horn-punctuated rock steady backdrop, Allen’s black-polished nails wickedly slash at creepy exes (“Smile”), sleazy pickup artists (“Knock ‘Em Out”) and the city of London (“LDN”). Even her own pot-head brother comes under motormouthed fire in the vaudevillian “Alfie.”

“I don’t really say anything intentionally trying to hurt anybody’s feelings,” sighs the girl who’s dissed stars like Bob Geldof, Carl Barat and Kylie Minogue. “But at the same time, I have opinions on people and don’t really know how to hold back. It’s probably something I need to look at, I think.” And for a few minutes, Allen is quite demure, discussing her tough times as a teen (13 schools in four years); an early career in floristry (up at 4 a.m. weekdays, off to Manchester on weekends for demo sessions); and eventual decision to temper her tunes with Jamaican riddims-pop music she feels everyone can enjoy. But the girl can’t help it-soon she’s deriding rakish Razorlight leader Johnny Borrell, one of her pet targets.

Allen catches herself before she really gets going. “I’ve been turned into column-inch filler back in my home country, and that’s not something I really enjoy,” she says. “Because I never went into this to be a celebrity-I went into it to make music and maybe, just maybe, earn some money.”

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