Lily Allen returns from hiatus with 'Hard Out Here' video

Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

If you’re like most Americans, the question “Where has Lily Allen been for the last four years?” will either be met with a momentary blank stare or a twinkly eye before recalling the snarky, outspoken British pop singer’s mid-'00s output. Allen stormed the British charts on the back of her buzzing, acclaimed 2006 album, "Alright, Still," followed a few years later with "It's Not Me, It's You," but soon thereafter put the pop life on hold to become a mother.

But why read about it when Allen herself explains it on her new single, “Hard Out Here,” which can be seen as a delayed reply to the  Three 6 Mafia’s Oscar winning jam “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” Instead of listing the travails of a male hustler, though, Allen waxes on the many problems that a self-described bitch must deal with.

These problems are laid bare from the initial scene of Allen’s new video for the track, her first new original recording since 2009. It opens with Allen shown lying on an operating table undergoing what appears to be liposuction surgery as her manager informs her that she’s been passed over for appearances on both David Letterman's and Jimmy Kimmel’s late night shows.

“We’ll get you fighting fit,” says the manager, blaming Allen’s weight on the slights. Staring from above her as she’s on the operating table, he rudely wonders, “How can someone get like this?”

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“A lack of self-discipline,” replies a member of the surgical team.

“I had two babies,” Allen protests while a TV overhead plays a video featuring women twerking.

Then the song kicks in, and over the next three minutes, Allen muses on pop music’s double standards. “Don’t need to shake my ass for you, 'cause  I’ve got a brain,” she sings. “If I told you about my sex life, you’d call me a slut/When boys be talking about their bitches no one’s making a fuss.”

She sings of glass ceilings and money, shoots down suggestions that she lose weight and get plastic surgery “or you’ll be on your own." "Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?,” she wonders dismissively while dancing.  

Allen also slams messages within the video for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" regarding his manliness by including her own similarly presented -- but unprintably vulgar -- boast. 

No word yet on an arrival date for a new album, but Allen has tweeted about having successful studio sessions with her L.A.-based producer, Greg Kurstin. 

Unfortunately, the language and other specifics of Allen's video mean we can't embed the clip, but you can watch it on YouTube. 


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