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Book Review: Smile:) The Story of Lily Allen by Bella Wolfson

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British singer and songwriter Lily Allen is cute, antagonistic, and a little obnoxious, but most of all she’s an exquisite observer of her surroundings. This sometimes not-so-healthy cynicism is smoothed over by her pop sensitive, sweet voice. What more could we ask for, right?

We could ask for a ready-made pop princess such as Christina Aguilera or a pre-breakdown Britney Spears, but instead we get the blatantly outspoken prom dress and sneaker clad tomboy that is Allen, which somehow makes up for the fact that we’ve fallen for the wiles of yet another pop diva.

Bella Wolfson’s Smile: ) The Story of Lily Allen paints a pop, watercolor portrait of an artist looking for acceptance in a world that insists that model-like attributes be taken seriously.

In her youth, Lily had the penchant for showbiz, but her tomboyish looks merely landed her non-descript roles in plays, sometimes even being cast as male characters in various productions. This emphasis on her looks, the bohemian lifestyle of her parents, as well as being abandoned by her father, would be the catalysts for her opinionated creativity.

Wolfson also chronicles Allen’s alcohol and drug use in the exotic locale Ibiza, as well as in her everyday life, but these facts serve as gossipy filler amidst her deeper story: the fact that she’s a mistress lyricist with an ear for reggae and jungle music sounds.

Being a 35-year-old male, I don’t fit into Allen’s demographic of 18-to-24-year old females, so I find her bickering with the likes of Courtney Love and Amy Winehouse simply irritating. Wolfson’s inclusions of these immature spats seem out of place, as they have no bearing on Lily as an artist.

Wolfson also writes as if she was instructed to do nothing but stroke Allen’s ego to the point of full climax, at one point even comparing her popularity to that of The Beatles. Lily is talented with an impressive fan base, no doubt, but it’s sheer arrogance to compare her to a group of kings.

The redemption arrives in the form of Allen moving past drugs, alcohol and the aforementioned bickering, and getting involved with social and political issues. The downside is that by the end of the book (and only two albums) Lily seems to be exiting her position as a musician.

The book also includes 16 pages of color photos of Lily in all her cuteness at performances, festivals and award shows, as well as with her family.

There’s the saying that it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, so perhaps this applies to Lily Allen and her art, but let’s hope she decides she has more to say about the world around her.

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  • Smytheee

    I read this book, it is a fan book but I don’t think the writer was comparing her to the Beatles – I had a look through again after reading this review and from what I could see the only thing said about that was when her label dropped her there was a jokey remark about the label in hindsight feeling frustrated like Decca were when they turned down the Beatles (classic music biz example to cite) – which they probably were, in both cases they turned down a lot of hits and money! that’s not the same as comparing someone’s talent to the beatles.

  • The thing about Lily is that she wrote some good songs but was a pretty lame singer.

    Her new career is selling second hand designer and/or antique clothes.