Lily Allen is the first to admit that the idea behind her new album Sheezus — that there is an ongoing battle amongst her contemporaries to rule the pop universe — is a silly one. Of course, she’s also quick point out that it’s true.
“There’s a song on the album … called ’Sheezus,’ and the first verse is about me re-entering the music scene, and how kind of scary that is,” she told MTV News. “And the choruses talk about people who are this in the scene, and [the idea] that women tend to be played against one another. The way I read it, there’s a queen and everyone else is in her slipstream. So I guess what it’s trying to say is that we can all be ’Sheezus.'”
To counter that, critics will no doubt mention that Allen spends no small portion of the song calling out those very contemporaries (Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Lorde and Lady Gaga are all mentioned by name) … though in doing so, they’re only further illustrating her point: that the media seemingly can’t get enough of pitting female pop stars against one another, often for purely ridiculous — and profitable — means.
So she’s just going to come right out and say it: She’s not competing with anybody, and, frankly, doesn’t want to. In fact, she’s not sure she even could.
“It’s kind of ridiculous because I name-check Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Lorde, and I don’t think that I could even possibly take one tiny diamond off of any of their crowns,” she explained. “The idea of the song is the ridiculousness that there even is a Sheezus.”
And that maturity is readily apparent throughout Sheezus, Allen’s first album in five years. For the first time in her career, rather that snipe sideways — she’s had high-profile feuds with everyone from Perez Hilton to Elton John — she’s set her sights on the top, taking jabs at the sexual politics in play in the record industry (on first single “Hard Out Here” ) and society’s double standards.
Part of that growth comes from actual maturity: In the time since 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You , she branched out into business, got married and had two daughters . And while she still doesn’t consider herself to be a role model (“Pop stars shouldn’t be role models,” she said. “That sort of thing should start at home,”) she’s certainly trying to hold herself to a higher standard these days.
So that means no more sh–talking … whether you like it or not. This time, she’s going to let the songs on Sheezus speak for her.
“I don’t even know why I did it before; I just felt like I was saying what everyone else was thinking, it wasn’t even an intentional, ’I want to cuss this person out’ kind of thing,” Allen said. “That’s one thing that has changed from having children; you realize that everybody is somebody else’s child, and would you like someone to say that about your child?”