Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Lily Allen - Sheezus

Sheezus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the album. For the song, see Sheezus (song).
Sheezus
Studio album by Lily Allen
Released2 May 2014
RecordedMarch 2012 – November 2013
GenrePop
Length49:40
Label
Producer
Lily Allen chronology
  • Sheezus
  • (2014)
Singles from Sheezus
  1. "Hard out Here"
    Released: 17 November 2013
  2. "Air Balloon"
    Released: 20 January 2014
  3. "Our Time"
    Released: 10 March 2014
  4. "URL Badman"
    Released: 13 July 2014
Sheezus is the third studio album by English recording artist Lily Allen, released on 2 May 2014 by Parlophone. The album is Allen's first body of work since her musical hiatus in 2009 after the release of second studio album, It's Not Me, It's You (2009). In June 2012, Allen announced that she would be returning to music, revealing that she had been recording a new album and that she would be returning to the use of her professional name.
Sheezus features production from longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin, along with the likes of ShellbackDJ Dahi and Fraser T Smith. Upon release, Sheezus received mixed to positive reviews from music critics, who praised the album's lyrical content, social commentary and outlook but some felt that it lacks in consistency and does not live up to Allen's previous works. The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, becoming Allen's second consecutive number-one album.
The album was preceded by the release of two singles. The lead single "Hard out Here" was released on 17 November 2013 and entered the UK Singles Chart at number nine, giving Allen two simultaneous top ten hit singles. "Air Balloon" was released as the second single from the album, peaking at number seven on the UK Singles Chart.

Contents

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Background[edit]

Allen released her second album It's Not Me, It's You in 2009, which saw a genre shift to synthpop, rather than the ska and reggaeinfluences used in her debut album Alright, Still (2006). The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and theAustralian Albums Chart and was well received by critics, noting the singer's musical evolution and maturity. It spawned the hit singles "The Fear" and "Fuck You", popular mostly in Europe. Allen and Amy Winehouse were credited with starting a process that led to the media-proclaimed "year of the women" in 2009 that saw five female artists making music of "experimentalism and fearlessness" nominated for the Mercury Prize.[1] In 2009, Allen announced that she would be taking a hiatus from musical activities. The following year, she opened a fashion rental shop named Lucy in Disguise with her sister Sarah,[2] followed by the 2011 launching of her own record label.[3]

Recording[edit]

"Lily Allen has found it quite difficult and stressful trying to reconnect. And Lily Cooper is happy because she's not sitting at home playing with toys and speaking with two human beings that can't speak back. There was a void. I'm a creative person, I like to speak my mind. Making music is the perfect vehicle for that. It would be different if I was on Made In Chelsea—that isn't a vessel for creativity. I need somewhere to put my... stuff."
Allen, on her return to music.[4]
Allen said in October 2012 that she was in the studio, "throwing shit in the wall and seeing if anything sticks ... It's great to work at my own pace with no commitments other than to make music."[5] In February 2013, she performed live at a Paris fashion show produced by Mark Ronson in what she called her "mumback", and foreshadowed the release of a new album "inspired by her experiences of motherhood" by the end of 2013.[6]
In 2013, Allen revealed that she had begun working on her third studio album Sheezus. On 20 June 2012, Allen tweeted that she was in the studio working with Greg Kurstin on new music.[7][8] She changed her professional name from Lily Allen to Lily Rose Cooper.[9] In August 2013 she changed her professional name back to Allen and tweeted new music would be arriving "soon".[10] Allen confirmed in an interview with BBC Radio 1 on 19 November 2013 that she is to perform at the 2014 Glastonbury Festival.[11] She also revealed that she has written a song for the album inspired by a Twitter feud with Azealia Banks that happened in summer 2013.[12] Sheezus was predominantly produced by longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin, whom Allen worked with on her first and second studio albums. Other collaborations came from DJ Dahi, who produced the album's title track, and Shellback, who produced "Air Balloon".[13]

Composition[edit]

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"Air Balloon" is described by Billboard as "more of a loopy lullaby than a slice of social commentary", the song gets its toy piano arrangement, creaseless beat and offbeat Kurt Cobain shout-out partially from Shellback.[14]

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Sheezus contains a "diverse mix of vibrant pop hooks, snappy commentary and a fearlessly perceptive outlook."[15] The album's opening track Sheezus is a "sarcastic pop" song, containing "anti-pop" lyrics that namecheck artists such as Lady GagaRihannaKaty PerryBeyoncé and Lorde.[16] "L8 CMMR" is a bubblegum pop and electropop song,[17] whose lyrics describe Allen's obsession with her male lover.[18] "Air Balloon" is a bubblegum pop[19] song that was described by Billboardas "more of a loopy lullaby than a slice of social commentary", the song contains a toy piano arrangement and creaseless beat.[14] "Our Time" is song built over "synth pop swirls", described as having a "carefree attitude".[15] "Insincerely Yours" is afunk song, that contains a "narrative of blunt truths and gutsy celeb culture sneers."[15] The track namechecks models Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn, as well as singer Rita Ora;[20] Allen stated that the song is "not about them, it's about the idea of them—how the media perceive them. It's about how the way [sic] the media perceive them as entities and how that actually has nothing to do with how they are in real life."[21]
"Take My Place" is a song that lyrically speaks about the struggles to overcome Allen's miscarriage.[15] "As Long as I Got You" contains a "jittery" harmonica and revolves around the theme of married life and Allen's partying past.[15] "URL Badman" sees Allen adopting the role of a "London white boy" who aspires to writing for Vice magazine. Layered over "ironic" dubstep wobbles, the song was described as "an astute slap across the faceless nature of the blogosphere".[15] On "Silver Spoon", Allen lambasts all the critics who continually attribute her success to her privileged upbringing, echoing the "snarky charm" of her previous albums, Alright, Still and It's Not Me, It's You.[15] "Hard out Here" is a "typically outspoken, sweary" synthpop song.[22] Lyrically, it speaks about "body image pressures and misogyny in the entertainment industry".[23]

Singles[edit]

"Hard out Here" was released as the album's lead single on 17 November 2013.[24] Upon release, "Hard out Here" was met with critical acclaim, with critics praising the song's feminist themes.[25] The single debuted at number nine on the UK Singles Chart, selling 30,213 copies in its first week.[26] The song's accompanying music video was a subject of controversy, with Allen accused of being racist for its use of mostly black dancers in an allegedly "disapproving" manner. Allen responded that ethnicity was not a factor in hiring the dancers, and the video was a lighthearted satirical look at objectification of women in modern pop music.[27][28]
"Air Balloon" premiered on BBC Radio 1 on 13 January 2014,[29] and was released on 20 January 2014 as the second single from the album.[30] The song reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart.[31]
"Our Time" was released as the album's third single on 10 March 2014,[32] peaking at number forty-three on the UK Singles Chart.[33] The song was serviced to radio in the UK and Italy on 24 March and 14 April, respectively.[34][35]
"URL Badman" will be released on 13 July 2014 as the fourth single from the album.[36] a music video for this song has been released

Other songs[edit]

"Sheezus" was released as a promotional single on 22 April 2014.[37] According to Allen, the song was not released as an "official single" due to its use of the word "period".[38]

Release and promotion[edit]

In December 2013, Allen was announced as one of the newest signees at Warner Bros. Records, following Warner Music Group's acquisition of Parlophone from Universal Music Group in May 2013.[39] In an interview with Graham Norton on The Graham Norton Show on 21 February 2014, Allen confirmed that her third studio album would be titledSheezus, saying that it is "a little nod to Kanye West", who had released the album Yeezus in 2013.[40] Allen released the album's artwork and track listing on 10 March 2014, the artwork features Allen sitting outside a stately home with corgis, while the building is engraved with the Latin phrase divide et impera translated to "divide and rule".[41] The same day, Sheezus was made available for pre-order along with the song "Our Time".[42]
On 14 November 2013, Allen made her debut live performance of "Hard out Here" in the YoYos pod at the Red Bull Revolutions in Sound event on the London Eye.[43] During an interview with Graham Norton on The Graham Norton Show on 21 February 2014, Allen performed the album's second single, "Air Balloon".[40] On 24 May 2014, Allen performed "Sheezus", "Hard Out Here", "URL Badman" and "Our Time" as part of her set at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in Glasgow.[44]
Allen played at Glastonbury Festival on 27 June 2014, where she also recorded a video for "As Long As I Got You".
Moreover, to promote the album, Allen began a new tour. It is scheduled to take place in Europe, Australia and North America. [45]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic60/100[46]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[47]
Clash5/10[48]
Consequence of SoundC−[49]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[50]
The Guardian3/5 stars[51]
The Independent4/5 stars[52]
Metro3/5 stars[53]
NME3/10[54]
PopMatters8/10[55]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[56]
Sheezus has received mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 60, based on 29 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews ".[46]The Independent received Sheezus positively, awarding the album 4 out of 5 stars, praising the "light, fashion-free range of arrangements which carefully avoid the standard electro-disco settings favoured by Katy, Kylie, Gaga and Ri-Ri", continuing to praise the "primacy of her lyrical content, rather than, as in their cases, disguising its thinness", before concluding "It's this diversity that clinches the album’s success, confirming that this is an artist with taste and opinions of her own, not just a schedule and a fanbase to satisfy."[52] Digital Spy also reviewed the album positively, awarding it 4 out of 5 stars, praising its "diverse mix of vibrant pop hooks, snappy commentary and a fearlessly perceptive outlook" and Allen's ability to juggle "intensely emotional songs alongside airy pop anthems."[15] Metro praised the albums lyrical content, stating Allen has "always excelled at delivering caustic social commentary in an unnervingly sweet, sing-song style, and pulls no punches here", but went on to say that Sheezus is not her best album "by a long way". They went on to award the album 3 out of 5 stars and concluded that "it's brilliant to have her back—calling out all that's fake and phoney wherever and however she sees it."[53]
Clash, however, were less positive in their review, awarding the album a mediocre 5/10, stating that Sheezus "often gets lost down its own self-ironic rabbit-hole, the product of Allen over-straining to reestablish herself as a distinct voice rather than the magnetic lyricist that sparkled prior to her 'retirement' four years ago."[48] Gigwise were similarly critical, who also awarded the album 5/10 and claimed it was "strongly lacking in coherence" and that Allen had toned down her opinions in comparison to previous releases. They did however praise the tracks "URL Badman" and "Insincerely Yours", stating they do a "fantastic job of providing biting commentary on social media and celebrity culture"[57]

Commercial performance[edit]

Sheezus debuted atop the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 35,414 copies, becoming Allen's second consecutive number-one album.[58] In the United States, the album debuted at number twelve on the Billboard 200, selling 17,000 copies in its first week.[59] In Japan, it sold 1,931 copies to enter the Oricon Weekly Albums Chart at number twenty-six.[60] The album debuted at number twenty-three on the French Albums Chart with 2,300 copies sold in its first week.[61]

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