Had you been around any sort of social media this week, you probably encountered a few leotard-donned bums shaking all they've got in a golden room. You probably also saw Lily Allen in a Rihanna "Pour It Up"-look in the middle of said booty bouncers trying her very best to shake her own. The Brit b*tch is back, and four years away have only made her sharp-witted tongue sharper.
Subtlety has never been Allen's forte and "Hard Out Here" is a testament to that. Both the song and visual hold an oversized mirror to the pop music industry today. "Don't need to shake my a*s for you 'cause I've got a brain" Allen blithely blurts out before launching into a feminist anthem for the Internet Age. On a purely surface level, the song itself is a riff on Three 6 Mafia's "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp," Hustle & Flow's Oscar-winning ode to the machismo ride or die lifestyle.
Allen's rebuttal should come as no surprise — 2013 has been the year of the twerk, riddled with rabbit holes of cultural appropriation lacking in credibility. Before Allen disappeared into motherhood in 2008, she released "The Fear," a sly slap in the face to the decadently hedonistic lifestyle pop culture was embracing at the time. The It's Not Me, It's You lead single still holds true today, with "Hard Out Here" building off its premise just as the state of pop itself has dug itself deeper into self-indulgent delights.
Like Lorde's "Royals," Allen's new single is the center of a hotly debated controversy regarding racism and appropriation. Indeed, both songs are a no-holds-barred commentary on the hip-hop culture pervading every clique from New York's prep schools to suburban Midwest homecoming dances. Allen's shameless mockery of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke (and a little Rihanna thrown in) has resulted in many a blog post calling it racist. To which the singer has responded: "[This video] has nothing to do with race, at all," Allen wrote in a post titled "Privilege, Superiority and Misconceptions." "[It] is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture.... The message is clear."
As the rest of the world prepares its own "I have an opinion on Lily Allen" rants, take a look for yourself. If anything, she's sent a bold point of contention into the ether that'll spark a larger, necessary discussion. Let the thought pieces begin.