There's a Lot of Spunk in Lily Allen's 'Smile'


Feb. 6, 2007 — -- Lily Allen is the young, hip British musician currently hopping from one American late-night program to another as she attempts to leap from the U.K. charts to American pop culture consciousness.

That effort isn't hurt by the fact that the 21-year-old has earned raves from such venerable music magazines as Rolling Stone, Vibe and Spin. And her stock is sure to rise with each stop on her MTV Discover and Download Tour.

"Smile" is the catchiest of her bubbly tunes from the American debut of her "Alright Still" album, a follow-up to four singles released over the past two years.

The video for the album, she says, is a mean fantasy of what a girl would like to do to the boy who dumped her, but Allen claims she hasn't done the things that her character does in the video. "In fact, I've never dumped anyone. I've only ever been left."

The middle-class girl who grew up in London has been nominated for four Brit Awards already this year, including best album, best breakthrough act, best single and best female solo act.

She has a fresh set of tattoos on her wrist from Australia that symbolize the world's four major religions, not broken hearts and boyfriends. .

Bumped in and out of a dozen different schools as she grew up, Allen has cultivated an irreverent voice. She's not afraid to stick her tongue out in the video blogs of her world travels that she posts to her site, or to wear sneakers with prom dresses -- not just because they're comfortable but because she loves Nike Air Max.

So while the constant travel, photo shoots and interviews might have been something Allen had once dreamed of, she tries to downplay the hype around her by seeing it for the moment it is.

"I was a florist before this, and I worked for a TV production company as a runner before that, so I'll do this as long as I'm happy doing this," she said.

Allen believes her fans connect with her because some part of her simple stories resonate with the angst-ridden portion of everyone, that her fans somehow perceive her lyrics as more honest.

Allen adds another potential reason for her success: "Women definitely respect the fact that I don't take my clothes off and dance around and gyrate in front of cameras and use my sexuality to sell my music."

Allen has already been on Jimmy Kimmel, played on last week's Saturday Night Live hosted by Drew Barrymore, and is scheduled to appear on Jay Leno. These stops are just part of the aggressive tour till August; she won't get a chance to write new lyrics or her melodies till then.

A tour with the name "Download" in the title seems a perfect fit for this effervescent woman, because it was in large part the groundswell of support early on from her Myspace fans that forced her record label to get her album out the door.

Her Myspace page boasts more than 140,000 "friends," and Allen is well aware that her story may sound like a fantastic phenomenon. But its only the tip of the iceberg.

"In the past 10 to 15 years, the music that kids have been listening to has been completely dictated to them by record companies and TV companies and radio stations," said Allen, "whereas now kids can go to a Web site, find what it is that they want to hear and download it, and that's great. That means that kids are finally not relying on some music controller, on some TV station telling them what music is."

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