Lily Allen Releases Sheezus… and Everyone Misses The Point

by Michelle Beiter

The title track off Allen’s upcoming album, Sheezus, calls out everyone that’s tried to create unfriendly competition among women in the music industry. The media often pits women artists against each other, leaving only one number one spot. So it comes as no surprise that most of the media outlets reporting on Allen’s latest opus miss the point entirely and are attempting to warp the track’s message:

Take a listen:

What blows my mind is that Allen is known for being sarcastic on her tracks, and yet, with “Sheezus” everyone seems to have forgotten all about what they once praised her for. In her old single “The Fear,” she croons with a coy smile, “I”ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless/ ‘cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous.” This wasn’t meant literally. The underlying snark in her lyrics is part of what’s made Allen’s lilting, slightly off-kilter music so infectious. So my question is, how could someone claim to have listened to “Sheezus” and put out an article with the title: “’Dying for art, so really she’s a martyr’: Lily Allen takes a swipe at Lady Gaga in new video for Sheezus… and Katy Perry, Lorde and Rihanna don’t escape unscathed”?

These are the lyrics in question:

RiRi isn’t scared of Katy Perry’s roaring
Queen Bey’s gone back to the drawing,
Lorde smells blood, yeah, she’s about to slay ya,
Kid ain’t one to fuck with, she’s only on her debut
We’re all watching GaGa, L-O-L-O ah-ha
Dying for the art so, really, she’s a martyr
The second best will never cut it for the divas
Give me that crown, bitch
I wanna be Sheezus.

I can understand why people would take this as an insult, but what doesn’t make sense to me is that Allen gives context for the first chorus in her second verse:

I’m ready for all the comparisons
I think it’s dumb and it’s embarrassing
I’m switching off, no longer listening
I’ve had enough of persecution and conditioning. 

Maybe it’s an instinct, we’re only animal

Maybe it’s healthy, maybe it’s rational
It makes me angry, I’m serious
But then again I’m just about to get my period.

Does that kind of backlash sound like it’s aimed toward anything but the patriarchy?

Another track off the new album (“Hard Out Here”) slams the music industry in a similar way: 

Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?
Have you thought about your butt? Who’s gonna tear it in two?
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

If you want an example of a dis, it’s in the lyrics above. Someone’s got it in for Robin Thicke and the whole disaster behind last year’s “Blurred Lines.” 

Yet somehow, the sarcasm in Sheezus has so far been overlooked, and taken as a slam toward the artists that Allen is actually praising. Let’s look at it logically: Allen seems to be a woman with her wits about her. Does anyone really think that she’d singlehandedly try and take on the likes of Bey AND RiRi, the powerhouse duo whose connections could seriously wound Allen’s career if they chose to? I don’t think so. It’s time that we stop expecting one woman to be the queen of things, leaving no room for others to grow or contribute to the art machine. What happened to the concept of a colleague? Someone within your industry whose experience and actions both betters your corner of the business world, and contributes to your own growth and success? Why do women always have to be in a death match for the crown? As Allen says: it makes me angry, I’m serious.

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