Lily Allen ended her three-year absence last week — and immediately returned to the pop-culture frontlines — with “Hard Out Here,” a sublimely scathing single that snapped back at the sexual politics at play in both society and the music biz.
And now, in a new interview with The Observer, she’s revealing her inspirations behind the song … beginning with her own personal list of thoroughly bad bitches.
“Dolly Parton is a bitch. Adele’s a bitch. [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel is a bitch,” Allen said. “Rihanna’s an inspiring bitch, my mum, Miley’s a bitch, rising. She’s my hero. Kate Middleton is not a bitch.”
Allen also said she drew no shortage of creative fuel from the constant stream of negativity spewed by blogs, online commenters — “I read it all, and they’re 90 percent horrible,” she tells the newspaper — and, in particular, UK tabloids like The Daily Mail, which she blames for perpetuating a spiral of self-destructive behavior … a spiral she is also a part of.
“I hate them. It’s an atrocity, really. But I still go on it. It’s my homepage. These lyrics are a message to them, in part. We keep going back, because they’ve made us feel so sh–that we have to compare ourselves — to say ‘Ha ha, she’s fat too’ — in order to feel better,” Allen said. “As well as a message to the Mail though, it’s a message to men. Men have started feeling insecure, and historically — my mum told me this — at the same time that women started doing well in the workplace they started being encouraged to feel sh– about the way they looked, because it was the one thing men had control over.”
And though she’s not pulling any punches on “Hard Out Here,” Allen said that her new music is less about hitting out at her critics … and more about finding answers to the kinds of questions she hopes won’t even exist by the time her two daughters are old enough to notice.
“I’m not moaning at the world any more. Before, I was struggling. Coming out of adolescence and not knowing where I was in the world … now it’s about ownership and empowerment,” she said. “I’d like to think that my children’s generation won’t feel like this. Like I do. I want them to realize that not everyone can be f—ing ‘hot’. Rather than attractiveness being the end prize, it should be as rewarding to be clever or funny.”