The reaction to Lily Allen's upcoming comeback album Sheezus has been dubious at best. Even Allen herself isn't sure of it, and agreed with a Twitter user who called her new music "docile pop rubbish" earlier this week. That seemed a bit crazy to us over at the 405. Her comments aren't exactly brimming with confidence, especially for someone supposedly making a record that's going to challenge notions of sexism in the music industry and change people's perspectives of female musicians.

Saying: "labels and the radio stations won't play the better stuff" makes her seem like she isn't changing a thing, it makes her sound subservient. How can you spit change if you're willing to compromise your beliefs so easily? If she's not taking her album's new message seriously how are we supposed to? Lilly Allen's just one case, but when we asked our writers whether artists should ever admit that they're not really that into their new work, her name came up a lot.


No:

Basically, admitting that your latest body of work is unimpressive seems completely counterproductive. It makes the artist look weak in comparison to the record label and sort of robotic without any actual original input into their work. It also poses the question: why would the fan want to buy your latest album if you're going around saying the singles off it are shit? Surely if you don't like your work, you wouldn't want your name attached to it as it could potentially be detrimental to your career. I'm just all a bit baffled by Lily Allen at the moment! - Ryan Cahill

For someone who used to pride themselves on their barbed tongue and fiercely brash attitude, Lily's recent approach appears to be a little muddled. She's been around long enough to expect the bullshit that she recounts from her record label and that's why it doesn't wash with me. Her recent comments resemble that of someone who has listened to the Sheezus playback, realised it's shit (funny that) and panicked, hence her seemingly spooked response to a fan. Furthermore, it feels a little insulting to the fans who, for unknown reasons, await the record's release with bated breath. - Lee Wakefield

Regardless of how funny or irreverent it might seem to immediately undermine whatever you've spent months writing and recording in the interests of making yourself seem more human, less pretentious, or more honest, an artist should always be able primarily to take pride in their output. What Allen seems to be saying is that the most important thing about being an artist is getting airplay and interview time. There is an argument that says that music is there to achieve societal change, and that by putting yourself front and centre of pop culture you're giving yourself the maximum chance to do that, but I don't buy it. I know too many great musicians making records that they know aren't going to break into the general popular consciousness, and doing so out of a genuine desire to achieve some kind of artistic originality, to accept the cop-out argument that says you balance your message to reach the widest audience. If she thinks she can change the way the world thinks about woman, or about Africa or about any other important issue just by singing a crappy Urban pop track, she is deluded. - Nicholas Glover

Two words: Azealia Banks. - Kris De Souza

Why are you making crap you don't even like yourself? Quality control and self respect should probably play a part. It's disingenuous, egotistical and patronising. It suggests that when they left the recording studio they thought 'Ok so that's that out of the way. My fans will buy any old shit I churn out'. Critiquing earlier work in hindsight is a different kettle of fish altogether. In Lily Allen's case it's never really been a secret that she's just making a quick buck though, as her turn in fashion was equally misjudged and well, just shit really. - Kerry Flint

The problem with blaming the label for why your latest releases have been sub-par is this: if you didn't like it, or didn't think it was good enough, then why the hell did you submit it to the label in the first place? We know labels have the power. Sure, in a perfect world Lily would be free to release an album made entirely out of fart samples, if she wished. We know that isn't the reality but I had assumed she had more integrity than this. I guess her admission was only shocking depending on whether you think Lily Allen is an artist using the medium of pop or a pop star-puppet on a string. If it is the former then, like me, you were probably a bit disappointed. It's good to be honest but it ain't half cold sometimes. Welcome to the real world, eh? - Woodrow White


On The Fence:

Yes, in the sense that being honest with yourself is one of the best policies you can have in life. No, because if you can't stand behind your own work, you never should have put it out in the first place. Artists need to stop being puppets for the music industry. - Sydney Gore

I was a bit shocked to read that, but then again Lily Allen has a tendency to apply a very coarse and thoughtless rhetoric which isn't always very well constructed, as evident in this Tweet - and in my opinion, in the 'Hard Out Here' video. She ends up falling somewhere between a corporate produced pop singer and a political artist - and perhaps this tension has manifested itself in her relationship with her label. It probably wasn't very wise for her to admit that her work is a bit crap, but then again audiences love to hate artist vs label feuds so at least she wins on the hype/publicity card. Remember the drama over Angel Haze's album leak? That was what truly made the festive season sparkle for me. I'm just hoping Allen won't claim 'lack of media training' to be the reason behind the statement, and that she'll actually stand by what she said. Perhaps we'll even be lucky enough to see her post a rant on YouTube! Such a treat would sufficiently feed us starving pop culture addicts addicted to everything 'meta'. - Jimmy Chadda


Wil's Thoughts:

I'm going to put this out there. I don't think that Lily Allen tweet was reported in the context she intended it to have. If you look at her account she went on to say that she used to have a 'myspace player' so you 'could hear it all' - so what she is saying is that the singles chosen from the album are not the best songs on the album. Which is hardly a new, rare, or exciting phenomenon. I guess the better question would be to ask p4k why they took the message they wanted and added some bias. They are the one's who set the tone after all, a thousand other websites just replicated their story, let's not pretend it doesn't happen like that.

Is that a result of pure laziness, or just more of that FOMO that is ruining everything fun for everyone? I'll let you decide for yourselves, but here's my money for what it's worth. P4k are the accepted creators of cool. They build artists from the ground up in a very specific way and slam artists built up by their competitors. Everything they do is carried out in order to further their established position as the arbiters of everything that is good. The online world just falls in behind them, riding in the wake, afraid to challenge them or try to set their own agenda. Once upon a time kids rebelled against the establishment, these days we regurgitate their content. I guess for whatever reason Lily Allen isn't on their list. I don't care about Lily Allen by the way, it's just worth pointing that out. I'm not typing with a chip on my shoulder. I could care less. Although I'm not convinced that Lily Allen has any right to speak out against her label in public, in private meetings she can argue all day long, but to make it public is different.

She chose to play the game that way after all, once you sign the contract and accept the advance you are subject to their rules, she knows that. Playing the rebel with a cause card and complaining after you've taken their money is a strange angle when you think about it. It feels pretty calculated, y'know, better blame the label because the splash isn't as big as I wanted it to be. Maybe that's just me. Obviously it's right that an artist has control of their art. Obviously. That's why an artist should never sign away that control for money. There are other options. If you choose not to take them then you have to expect the 'docile pop rubbish' to be championed. That is what these imagination-free middle-of-the-moneyed-fucking-road dickheads deem to be acceptable. Which is a whole other argument.


Conclusion:

Well no one seems to think it's a good idea for an artist to say their work is a bit crap; the real disagreement is over how harmful it is to an artist's career, and that depends on who you are. If Rivers Cuomo came out and said "the new Weezer album isn't a patch on Pinkerton", people would probably applaud and pray it meant Pinkerton 2 was on the way. We all like to have our suspicions confirmed, and when it's the creator themselves confirming it, even better.

Allen's Tweet was that confirmation, it was the chink in her anxious-activist, and people jumped. She showed up talking a big game, and claimed to be ready to take on everyone who had wronged her. Only she wasn't, and offhandedly admitted as much to some jerk who took the extra step of making sure she saw what horrible thing he said to say about her new songs. That's the sort of person she was meant be taking on, not apologising to. Allen can think what she wants about her own music, but she should never betray her beliefs because, in this case, the two go hand in hand.

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