The Washington Post

Lily Allen, “Hard Out Here” — It’s trending, but is it good?

A regular feature in which we assess the quality of a pop song or video trending online.

Screenshot from Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” video.

(Watch the video here. It’s probably NSFW, depending where you W.)

The artist: Lily Allen, the British pop singer whose 2006 breakout singles, “LDN” and “Smile,” combined charming British blither-blather with lots of reggae sunshine. Allen dropped her second album, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” in 2009, but failed to make the same waves.

The song: Her new single, “Hard Out Here,” has just been released in music video form, skewering the hotly debated imagery in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video and the rampant twerk culture that spread across the land after Miley Cyrus violated the sanctity of MTV’s VMAs.

It’s trending: The video for “Hard Out Here” landed on YouTube on Tuesday and has already exceeded a million views.

But is it good? Allen is righteously targeting the patriarchal double standards of 21st-century celebrity culture, but issues of race and class get tangled in the crossfire. “I won’t be bragging ’bout my cars or talking ’bout my chains/Don’t need to shake my [behind] for you ’cause I’ve got a brain,” Allen sings, echoing Lorde’s “Royals,” another outsider’s scolding of hip-hop that’s sparked plenty of debate. The video for “Hard Out Here” drives that critique home with Allen scrubbing a sparkly hubcap in a kitchen sink and dancing alongside a fleet of jiggly twerkers. But as the blogeratti prepare 1,000 think pieces, give the video the close-your-eyes test. You’ll hear a singer trying to spark a worthy discussion through a clumsy and bland pop song.

Chris Richards is The Washington Post's pop music critic. He has recently written about Adele's sadness, Kendrick Lamar's fury, Young Thug's genius and T-Pain's vulnerability.



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Chris Richards · November 13, 2013