Four years after the release of her second studio album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, Lily Allen has burst back onto the music scene with her new video, “Hard Out Here.”
The video starts with Allen lying on an operating table while her manager wonders, “How does somebody let themselves get like this.” The doctor replies, “Lack of self-discipline.” Allen explains that she’s had two babies and her manager calls it “terrifying.”
Allen sings about double standards, saying, “If I talk about my sex life, you’ll call me a slut/When boys be talking ’bout their b*tches no one’s making a fuss.” Later in the song, she says, “If you can’t detect the sarcasm, then you’ve misunderstood.”
The video for “Hard Out Here” primarily features shots of scantily clad, and mostly black, women in suggestive poses, having champagne poured over their bodies, that are normally reserved for hip-hop music videos. Allen takes a deliberate jab at Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video, which features a balloon arrangement spelling out “Robin Thicke has a big d**k,” with her own declaration, “Lily Allen has a baggy p***y.” She also attempts to twerk with her dancers and suggestively eats a banana.
The video hasn’t been without its controversy, with blogger BlackinAsia calling her attempt to critique the state of pop culture “objectifying and and utterly denigrating” to her black female dancers. Similarly, Jezebel writes, “Because it’s satire a lot of people will argue that it doesn’t count because intent is magic, etc. but ironic racism is still racism.”
Lily Allen responded to the criticism on Twitter with a post called “Privilege, Superiority and Misconceptions.” Allen wrote, “The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.”
Allen also wrote that she isn’t going to apologize because that would imply that she was guilty of something, and that she in no way feels “superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.”
Lily Allen has been working on her third studio album since June 2012, and initially said that she wasn’t planning to release any new music until next spring. However, in August, Allen changed her Twitter handle from her married name (Lily Cooper) back to Lily Allen, and wrote in her bio, “I have been making babies, i have been making songs. Stand by…” Allen announced her comeback on August 30.