“I hope I’ve been able to shed some light onto my weird brain.”
19 top ten singles including 3 number ones and 2 number one albums
The album Alright, Still has spent 98 weeks on the British chart
I find songwriting nerve-racking. I feel anxious about whether it sounds silly, whether I’m good, whether I’m worth all this fuss. I feel a fraud and that I’m about to get found out.
Jamelia did an interview saying: ‘I love Lily Allen but I can’t play her records for my kids. I wish she’d do (a clean) version.’ If you don’t want your kids to listen to swear words, don’t put my album on. I’m not going to make a record that’s not got them… because that’s not the record.
I tried to work with Damon Albarn. But I find him a little bit too irritating.
LDN was inspired by Wordsworth’s Composed Upon Westminster Bridge. That was one of the poems I studied for GCSE English at school. I remember thinking, ‘I want to write about London,’ and looking at that poem online and thinking, ‘That’s what he thought, what do I think?’ I was looking at his viewpoint; how he told what he felt at that particular moment.
Wordplay is my thing. It always has been. I play these stupid games with people at home or when I’m out drinking. It’s always wordplay, puns, rhyme. That’s how my brain works.
My favourite song of mine is Him, on my second album. It’s sort of questioning, isn’t it? The record company really didn’t want to put it on the record. I put my foot down. I was questioning life: ‘What are we doing here? How do we justify all this rubbish we’re getting on with?’ You see that in The Fear and Him. I was confused and baffled. Probably to do with the amount of drugs I was taking. Mark Ronson and I worked in the studio where he’d worked with Amy Winehouse. I felt her ghost was there. I felt so untalented in comparison.
Recently, I’ve been writing songs for Bridget Jones’s Diary musical. We’ve given each character typical songs from their era. So the mum’s got a Vera Lynn-y number. Bridget’s got a different mix of stuff: I’ve found it a lot easier, though I found Bridget really irritating and frustrating. I found it quite difficult to get into her character, but once I’d got there I found writing the songs quite easy. She was such a foreign character to me.
I’ve just started writing again, a new record, and I’m struggling to come up with things to write about. I don’t know if I could write a story about my baby being tube-fed. I don’t think anybody would find it interesting. I live quite a reclusive life. A nice big house in the country, not going to clubs, not getting in altercations with people. I’m in love. Before, I wasn’t.
Last week I wrote three songs. Sam (Cooper, her husband) said: ‘What are they called?’ and I just find titles insignificant – just usually the most prominent words in the chorus.
Wonderful rhyming couplets dominate your songs in “LDN” : Tesco / al fresco; “Everything’s Just Wonderful” weight loss / Kate Moss; “Him”: caucasian, tax evasion. Do you find rhyme leads your thoughts?
Yeah, definitely, but weirdly, because my mum and dad always used to sing stupid songs to me when I was little. My mum is a big couplets fan; that’s her thing. She sings this song to Ethel [Allen’s daughter]: “You’re a little trouper, you’re a star, You’re a little trouper, you’re a star, You’re Ethel Merry Cooper, yes you are.” She’d always just do that about silly objects: what you’re wearing or what you’re having for dinner. Maybe I was always trying to second-guess where she was going with the end of her songs. I’ve probably inherited it from her.
“I am a weapon of mass construction”
Yes, that’s a really Lily-ism; it’s what we are, isn’t it?