You probably know the story by now. Lily Allen, daughter of professional geezer Keith, grows up largely without him, dividing her childhood between council flats and film premieres, where she says times were hard for her single mum "what with three kids' school fees to pay". She gets expelled frequently, guzzles a load of club drugs in Ibiza, writes some brilliant songs about London life and becomes the queen of MySpace, where she blogs her heart away about how rubbish everyone else is.
Like most British pop, Lily Allen's debut album, Alright, Still, overflows with impeccably shiny, creative productions. However, Allen attempts to set herself apart from the likes of Rachel Stevens, Natasha Bedingfield, and Girls Aloud with a cheeky, (mostly) amusing vindictive streak in her lyrics that belies the sugarcoated sounds around them. You know exactly what she means when she says her ex is "not big whatsoever" on "Not Big"; later, she revels in being the one that got away on "Shame for You." However, this nice-then-naughty approach is at its best on Alright, Still's singles, which open the album in a one-two-three punch.
Already a superstar in England at the ripe young age of 21, Lily Allen arrives as a tongue-in-cheek corrective to much of what's wrong with hip-hop. To those who believe the best way to riches is rapping about bitches, here's a white woman offering her perspective. Over Specials samples and toaster-ready beats, tracks such as the hit "Smile" and "Alfie," an ode to Allen's pothead brother, may not be hard, but they're certainly hard to resist.