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Bigger Than Sheezus

Wednesday once more and it is time for the final instalment of a series of sorts I’ve been writing all month long, focusing on strong female voices in such areas as:

Music,

The Media and Culture,

and

literature.

I decided to include this final mid-week post on more female star-power and strength.

I returned, last month, after two years to the Toronto waterfront and The Sound Academy.

Lily allen recently came out with her third studio album: “Sheezus”. Following her debut of “Alright, Still…” and my favourite, her sophomore record, the cleverly titled: “It’s Not Me It’s You”.

Finally, after being a fan for about five years, I was getting to see her perform my favourite songs live.

I didn’t mind the overpowering smell of pot in the line outside, standing room only, or continually having strangers rubbing up against my butt because Lily Allen is one-of-a-kind and worth seeing.

It isn’t often that I come away from a performance, loving not only that performance, but loving too the new discovery I’ve found, but on this particular night Lily’s opening act was one of those rare times. I’d never heard of Lolawolf before, but her song “What Love Is” caught my attention immediately and I definitely recommend her to anyone reading this. Look her up here:

LOLAWOLF on Facebook.

***

Who’d Have Known:

And even though it’s moving forward, there’s just the right amount of awkward. And today you accidentally called me baby.

***

Lily Allen did a nice mixture of songs from all three of her albums, including some of my favourites. She included her first big single “Smile” and songs from “It’s Not Me It’s You” such as my favourites (in part) shown above and below.

***

22

It’s sad but it’s true how society says her life is already over. There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say. Until the man of her dreams comes along, picks her up, and puts her over his shoulder. Seems so unlikely in this day and age.

***

Lily Allen sang about the things young women were experiencing in their own lives. She sang about cheating and sex, drugs and fame, family trouble and society’s unrealistic expectations put on young people, women specifically.

Her newest album came out right around the time of her concert and so I was unfamiliar with it, other than the few singles I listened to on YouTube beforehand. Sometimes I prefer doing this. The show takes on a whole new vibe this way.

I miss out on such things as the visually eye-catching or, in Allen’s case, the ultra strange elements to the live performance. I was told something about multi-coloured flashing lighted baby bottles, yellow and pink and blue, behind her on stage.

This I don’t pretend to understand the meaning of. And she didn’t agree to an interview with me, so I could not find out the origin of this.

🙂

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she is, on returning to the spotlight, a different person from when she left it last.

She took a break of several years, from making records and mostly stayed hidden. She suffered at least one miscarriage, from what I read, but now she has returned and she has grown a lot it seems.

She is a wife and a mother of two children. She no longer sings about a life of dating and single girl status strictly.

the first thing I noticed as I stood and listened to her sing and speak to the audience in between songs (about taking her kids up the CN Tower earlier that day) was that she seemed happy and maybe not as angry as she once was. Relationships are complicated and being young isn’t easy. I found a connection and felt understood, in a way, when I listened to her singing about her own struggles.

It’s her songs about the helplessness of the end of a relationship that I first clung to when listening to her latest album. That feeling of wanting to scream and hold on for dear life, all while knowing it just wasn’t meant to be.

***

Take My Place:

How can life be so unfair? I can’t breathe in fact I’m choking on the air. It’s all over. I can see it in your eyes. Hold my hand. Don’t ever leave my side.

If I could then I would scream. I’d wipe the tears up off my face. Wake me up if it’s a dream. This is more than I can take. I’d give everything I own, if someone else would take my place. Would someone else please take my place?

***

OR the fear that the worst moments, days, weeks, or months of your life could replay themselves all over again, like a bad broken record or a bad dream. Such a relatable feeling I had not felt in a long long time.
This is what the most powerful of lyrics can do, at least for me and of which I have always experienced when listening to Lily Allen’s music.

***

Holding Onto Nothing:

Oh I’ve been there before. No I won’t go back. Couldn’t take anymore. I’m not going back. Going back. Going back.

***

She isn’t afraid to curse in her songs. She is constantly standing up for things and I admire her for that.

Her voice is an important one, I believe, for today’s modern female artist and she sings on issues such as feminism in a way that is hard to ignore.

***

Hard Out Here:

We’ve never had it so good. Uh huh we’re out of the woods. And if you can’t detect the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood.

***

Her cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We know” is, in my opinion (like Lights and her rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song). Better than the original. I may be alone on this, but again one of my favourite female artists is taking a well-known song and making it their own. Allen sings this ballad in a slowed down version that is both sad and wistful.

She sings songs about the pressure to be perfect, the constant need to be validated by a man, and the pain that these things can cause when self-esteem is low or when life seems impossible when fearing loneliness.

How a successful, capable, tough girl like her could bee feeling all these things and more makes her highly relatable.

In “Miserable Without Your Love” She seems to have all the control or toughness in the world and it can all be hiding something else.

She sings in a way that it seems like some things should be challenged. Or the question asked, is it all really worth it?

In the song: “Life For Me”, there is a sound reminiscent of Paul Simon’s hit album Graceland, heard unmistakably in the plunky-sounding guitar.

In songs like this one she sings about motherhood and family life. Even when you finally find happiness and love, the bad days and the stressful moments can still make you feel like you are drowning.

***

I’m not complaining but last night I hardly slept at all. Well actually yes I am complaining.

***

Her frank honest delivery of the lyrics and the feelings that inspired them is refreshing in a world of culture shock and vanity. Her dry sense of humour comes out so clearly even through the song.

She aims to show that nothing is perfect.

Again, on this new album she alludes to, not only the hard time of being a parent, but again returning with: “Who Do You Love”, that her relationship with her own parent isn’t all that easy or simple either.

She speaks on all the insincerity out there in the entertainment world in such songs as: “Insincerely Yours” and the title track:

“Sheezus”.

Here she lists some female artists by name: Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lorde, and Lady Gaga.

It seems the competition for female singers and performers is tough and relentless. In this title track her apprehension of stepping back into this world with her new album’s release, after some of the changes she’s seemingly gone through with marriage and motherhood is a scary thing for her. She seems to challenge whether or not it’s all really worth the aggravation of trying to keep up.

I would say the biggest difference in this one is that she is happy. Sure, not all her songs are cheerful and lighthearted, but the overall impression I got both from her life show and from the record itself is that she is a happy woman now. There is none of that early twenties upheaval and uncertainty of the dating world and of the partying and the feeling of being lost, that young women so often get stuck in.

Her anger is still burning bright on some key issues as I’ve mentioned, but she can not hide it. She never seems to hide it, remaining as transparent as ever.

In a way this takes away from the true Lily Allen spirit that I guess I’ve often responded to because she is known for her angrier lyrics at times. She doesn’t seem to take any crap from anyone and I don’t believe this will ever change. Her British charm is all a part of this attitude.

***

Sheezus:

Been here before. So unprepared. Not going to lie though. I’m kind of scared.

Laced up my gloves. I’m going in. Don’t let my kids watch me when I get in the ring.

I’ll take the hits. Roll with the punches. I’ll get back up. It’s not as if I’ve never done this. But then again, the game is changing. Can’t just come back, jump on the mic, and do the same thing.

There goes the bell. I know that sound. I guess it’s time for me to go another round. Now wish me luck. I’m going to need it. I’ll see you on the other side if I’m still breathing.

***

All boxing metaphors aside, these feelings of trying to fit in could be applicable to almost any situation.

As for Lily, it’s clear she is wary of putting herself back under the microscope of fame, but she does it. She is back to competing with the other female stars of the day.

She sings about the love she has found and the guy she has found it with, up front about what fierce pride she has in him, challenging any other girl to try anything to mess with that. Here again her tough persona shows itself. She may be happy, but she is still Lilly: cheeky and wise-cracking. I pity any girl who would mess with her. She doesn’t seem like the type of person to hesitate in kicking some ass if the occasion called for it.

She seems to be struggling, at times, with balancing being a wife and mother with her life in the world of fame.

She still holds all the same insecurities that any mother has after pregnancies and giving birth. Being thin in this thin obsessed culture is a concern facing her too, not being any more immune from these stresses than anyone else.

She even mentions the very WordPress I post this on, with a song about technology, social media, the bloggiasphere. Words can be written and posted by any old person hiding behind a screen and keyboard. Empathy not required.

Songs on this album range from strange to suggestive, from silly to sad.

She can convey all of this through her voice and her lyrics like no one else I’ve heard in recent years.
Whether it’s the affect she puts on her voice or the simple simplicity of the sound that is so uniquely her own.

I’ve listened to the deluxe edition of “Sheezus” over and over now, to take something away from each lyric every time I hear it.

As I stood out on the dock just feet from Sound Academy, I rested against the railing, looking out into the the night and over the water. Lake Ontario and the city beside me, the CN Tower out there somewhere nearby. I had gone from a psychiatric hospital to the docks all in one day, but more about that in a future post.

Lily Allen: you’ve done it again girl.

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One thought on “Bigger Than Sheezus

  1. Pingback: International Women’s Day 2015: Making It Happen | Her Headache

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