Monday, February 02, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: February 1

Lady GaGa lasted three weeks at number one, but now it's time to move on, with...

That's "The Fear", by Lilly Allen, the first single from her second album. She hasn't much troubled the American singles chart, though her first album did okay over there. But in Britain, she was a major breakthrough star in 2006, with a bouncily cynical, vaguely ska album that was good enough to overcome its Mockney tendencies.

She's the daughter of actor and professional irritant Keith Allen, whose own forays into music included a bunch of novelty singles such as this inexplicable 1998 number one.

So it was a pleasant surprise when she turned out to be okay. "The Fear" is her second number one, the first being her debut "Smile", though personally I always preferred "Alfie", a ridiculous choice of single that somehow still got to number 15.

This is her seventh Top 40 appearance, though the last two were guest vocals for Mark Ronson and the Kaiser Chiefs; she hasn't actually released a single of her own since 2007. Instead, she made a poorly received chat show for BBC3 which sounded like it had been generated by a youth-TV parody machine. ("It's a chat show, right... but with a social networking website.") Never saw it, but by all accounts it was god-awful. There's supposed to be a second season in the pipeline, but it looks to have been kicked into touch.

I quite like "The Fear." She's obviously trying a different genre for her second album, and if the lyrics are well-trodden stuff about consumerism, there's still a couple of amusing lines in there. Yes, there's something rather contrived about her, and it's easy to see why she's the sort of act you're not really supposed to like... but I still think she's one of the more interesting mainstream pop acts in Britain.