Grantland logo

‘Sheezus’: Lily Allen Has Invented Paranoid Blogger Pop

What, precisely, is Lily Allen’s damage?

What, precisely, is Lily Allen’s damage? On her new single, “Sheezus,” the second release off her third studio album of the same regrettable name, one gets the impression that she is more interested in a career as a music blogger than a pop star. Once upon a time, Lily Allen was second to none when it came to wry, catchy pop, but with “Sheezus” I feel as if we’ve accidentally clicked a shady-looking link and landed at, and it is rife with toxic negativity and grammatical errors. The first full minute consists of a lengthy prologue, delivered in Allen’s characteristic coy lilt over a beat ripped straight from Sleigh Bells’ “Run The Heart,” in which Allen explains the current state of her career with neither imagination nor economy:

Been here before, so I’m prepared
Not gonna lie though, I’m kinda scared
Lace 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 gonna need it
I’ll see you on the other side, if I’m still breathing

Look at how long that first verse is! Never mind that those are three stanzas that essentially repeat the same idea (via a boxing metaphor, no less), Allen really goes out of her way to give the impression that making another album is the absolute last thing she wants to be doing right now. Whether that’s an affectation or how she actually feels, she seems to think that all this qualification will somehow shield her from the wrath of the Internet pop stan army. In the age of the comment-section troll, it’s easy to be spooked into the futile exercise of reading your own work through the eyes of your potential haters in an effort to patch up any holes their bullets might pierce (which never, ever, ever works). It’s bad songwriting, but classic first-time blogger form.

Allen then shifts her attention from her critics to her competition, the other thing common wisdom tells us not to worry ourselves with too much if we want to succeed. “Sheezus” has been somewhat erroneously branded as a “diss track” even though Allen never specifically says anything negative about any of the female (all female!) vocalists she calls out (aside from perhaps Gaga, though it’s kind of hard to tell). It’s all shadowboxing, but the fact that Allen has her fists up at all seems incredibly counterproductive. Of course, the Catch-22 is that here I am throwing my own punches at this terrible song, but haven’t you ever dumped someone because they wouldn’t stop talking about how scared they were that you were going to dump them?

Ri-Ri isn’t scared of Katy Perry’s roaring
Queen B’s going back to the drawing
Lorde smells blood, yeah, she’s about to slay you
Kid ain’t one to fuck with when she’s only on her debut

We’re all watching Gaga, L-O-L-O, haha
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

When she finally gets to the titular point, it’s anticlimactic: Why does she “wanna” be Sheezus? Shouldn’t she already be declaring herself Sheezus? C’mon, Lily, own it, dammit! The need to explain one’s self, both for celebrities and us regular folk, usually lessens with time, but it seems like the more years go by, the less Lily Allen is able to just spit it out. She may have lost some of our loyalty with her “Hard Out Here” video and her Azealia Banks Twitter beef, but defensiveness rarely looks good on pop stars (just ask Sky Ferreira or Avril Lavigne). The most prudent thing for Lily to do would be to just stop comparing herself to the rest of the world and write a good pop song that isn’t about other pop stars. Otherwise she’s just the celebrity equivalent of a bullied kid at camp throwing herself into a tangle of poison ivy before the bigger kids have a chance to do it to her first. It may be an effective tactic in the short term, but you always end up covered in rashes, and half the time it turns out nobody was planning on throwing you in the first place.