Our top 10 Lily Allen songs list presents the music of a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter. Born in 1985, Lily Allen was raised around family and friends who were passionate about entertainment. Her parents are comedian Keith Allen and Alison Owen, a film producer. Lily Allen is a third cousin to legendary pop, soul, and R&B artist Sam Smith. One of Lily Allen’s family friends is her godmother, Angela McCluskey, of the folk-rock band Wild Colonials.
Lily Allen started singing while still a young lady in her junior school. When Lily Allen was eleven, a Canadian soprano and member of Cat’s Eyes Rachel Zeffira, heard her singing “Wonderwall” by the rock band Oasis. Rachel Zeffira called her to her office and started giving her singing lessons. Eventually, Lily Allen would perform the song “Baby Mine” from the 1941 animated fantasy film Dumbo at her school concert.
Initially, Lily Allen started playing the piano when she was a grade five student. She would later become a multi-instrumentalist playing the guitar, trumpet, and violin a few years later. Lily Allen delivered her first solo when she sang “In the Bleak Midwinter,” a famous poem by Christina Rossetti. Soon after releasing her first solo, Lily Allen was featured on the video of the hit “Vindaloo” by the British band Fat Les.
In 2001, Lily Allen recorded vocals for the song “On Me Head Not Off Me Head.” Her father penned the song for his satirical mockumentary comedy film Mike Bassett: England Manager. Later on, Lily Allen recorded some demo music to try to grab the attention of a record label. However, she was rejected by a number of record labels. Her father’s influence would later help her receive a recording deal with London Records in 2002. Her time with London Records didn’t yield any fruits, having her leave without recording any music.
Lily Allen signed a recording deal with Regal Records. However, the label didn’t provide her much attention and finances. Lily Allen recorded and released demos on her MySpace account. This helped her build a loyal fanbase, with “LDN” standing out as one of her best songs from the demos.
In 2006, Lily Allen started working on her debut album Alright, Still (2006). The album blended pop, R&B, and reggae elements. Amazingly, the album led Lily Allen to imminent success, rising to the top of the Australian Urban Albums chart. Alright, Still (2006) also managed to rise to the second position on the UK Albums Chart. On the Billboard 200, the album peaked at number twenty. Musical gems from Alright, Still (2006) include “LDN,” “Smile,” “Alfie,” and “Littlest Things.”
Alright, Still (2006) was produced by several producers, including Greg Kurstin and Mark Ronson. Mark Ronson helped Lily Allen in the production of “Littlest Things.” The song saw Mark Ronson receive a Grammy Award for the Producer of the Year in 2008. On the other end, Lily Allen won a BMI Songwriting Award for her single “Smile.”
Lily Allen later released three studio albums, including It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009), Sheezus (2014), and No Shame (2018). With her sophomore album, It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009), Lily Allen incorporated more of electropop, country, and jazz elements. The album peaked at number one on the UK Albums chart, rising to the fifth position on the Billboard 200. Some of the best Lily Allen songs from the album include “Who’d Have Known,” “22,” and “Not Fair.”
With Sheezus (2014), Lily Allen retained her modern sound, spicing it up with some R&B elements. The album still achieved a number one ranking on the UK Albums chart. On the Billboard 200, Sheezus (2014) rose to the twelfth position. With the help of her longtime collaborator, Greg Kurstin, Lily Allen was able to release several musical gems on the album. Some of the hits from the album include “URL Badman,” “Air Balloon,” “As Long as I Got You,” and “Our Time.”
Her recent album release effort is No Shame (2018), which was followed by a breakdown in her marriage. This electropop-oriented album didn’t perform like the previous releases, only managing the eighth position on the UK Albums Chart. The album managed a peak position of number one hundred and sixty-eight on the Billboard 200. Lily Allen has received over seventy nominations for different accolades throughout her career. She has won almost half of the nominations, including a Grammy Awards, a Mercury Prize, a BRIT Award, and several Ivor Novello and NME Awards. Here we present the best Lily Allen songs that might add some electropop feel to your playlist.
#10 – Who’d Have Known
Ushering us to the top 10 Lily Allen songs is the hit “Who’d Have Known.” The song is featured on Lily Allen’s sophomore album It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009). Lily Allen revealed that she sampled “Shine” by the English pop ensemble Take That. Initially, she asked the band members to sing on her track, “Who’d Have Known.”
However, the band members turned down her invite but allowed her to sample the tune from their hit “Shine.” T-Pain sampled “Who’d Have Known” in his 2011 hit “5 O’Clock.” “Who’d Have Known” peaked at number thirty-nine on the UK Singles Chart.
#9 – Alfie
“Alfie” is one of the best Lily Allen songs from her debut album Alright, Still (2006). Lily Allen released the song as a defensive tribute to her brother Alfie Owen. In this song, the sister pleads with Alfie to rise from the dust and stop wasting his life with self-destructive behaviors. Eventually, the brother landed a role in the film Game of Thrones in 2011. “Alfie” peaked at number fifteen on the UK Singles Chart.
#8 – Air Balloon
Our number eight-song “Air Balloon” finds Lily Allen collaborating with the Grammy Award-winning record producer Shellback in the songwriting process. The record producer is also known for his successful work with One Direction, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, and Avril Lavigne. While “Air Balloon” might be among Lily Allen’s least favorite songs, it beat all odds to become one of her most popular hits.
The song finds the singer delivering nonchalant vocals, which complements its infectious pop-influenced yet heavy tune. Some music critics have compared this song to “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. “Air Balloon” peaked at position seven on the UK Singles Chart, making it one of her best releases on Sheezus (2014).
#7 – 22
“22” is a popular Lily Allen song from her sophomore album It’s Not Me, It’s You (2006). The song balances between jazz-pop and pop sounds. Critics lauded the song for blending inspiring lyrics and vocals that hide Lily Allen’s age.
The song finds the artist singing about a ruined thirty-year-old lady. Lily Allen revealed that the song was meant to show how some ladies have a tough time finding what they really wish to pursue in life. “22” peaked at number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart.
#6 – Somewhere Only We Know
Number six on our top 10 Lily Allen songs is the hit “Somewhere Only We Know.” The song is featured on Lily Allen’s third studio album Sheezus (2014). Initially, the song was released by the English alternative rock ensemble Keane on Hopes and Fear (2004). The song was Keane’s most popular and best-selling track until the band released “Is It Any Wonder?” two years later.
Lily Allen covered the song in 2013 for a John Lewis Christmas ad. Her version peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. In 2015, her version was used by Vivo for its ads. The UK’s Labour Party also used the song for the general elections in 2017. Other artists who covered the original song by Keane include Lifehouse, David Archuleta, Natasha Bedingfield, and Laura Michelle Kelly.
#5 – LDN
“LDN” is one of the best Lily Allen songs from her early career. The song finds the English artist paying tribute to her city of birth, London. While the song feels a little cheerful, it references pimps, whores, and the police in lines delivered in a cynical tone. “LDN” samples the hit “Reggae Merengue” by Tommy McCook & The Supersonics. The song peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart.
#4 – Hard Out There
Coming in at the fourth position is the hit “Hard Out There.” “Hard Out There” serves as the lead single to Lily Allen’s third album Sheezus (2004). The song’s lyrics allude to body-image pressures, especially objectification issues to women. It also serves as a criticism of the misogyny in the entertainment scene.
“Hard Out There” brings the best of synth-pop sounds by the English singer. Critics have named it one of the most influential feminist anthems. The song peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. On the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, the song managed a peak position of number six.
#3 – The Fear
It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009) is home to our number four-track on the top 10 Lily Allen song “The Fear.” Lily Allen teamed up with her longtime producer Greg Kurstin in penning the lyrics to this electropop ballad. “The Fear” finds Lily Allen enunciating difficulties with celebrity lifestyles. Lily Allen features themes of postmodernism and consumerism.
“The Fear” peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. It became the longest-running hit in the UK Singles chart in 2009. On the Billboard Hot 100, the song managed to rise to the eightieth position. This marked Lily Allen’s second entry on the Billboard chart.
#2 – Not Fair
“Not Fair” is yet another great release from Lily Allen’s album It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009). The song finds Lily Allen singing about sexual frustrations. Unlike most of the best Lily Allen songs, which feature electropop elements, “Not Fair” is primarily a country-pop ballad. The song also features bluegrass elements, allowing Lily Allen to explore new musical sounds. “Not Fair” managed the fifth position on the UK Singles Chart.
#1 – Smile
Number one on our top 10 Lily Allen songs list is the hit “Smile.” The song is featured on Lily Allen’s album Alright, Still (2006). “Smile” finds Lily Allen laughing at her ex-boyfriend. The laughter is triggered by the ex-boyfriend’s attempts to win her back after they parted, following their relationship going sour.
“Smile” sampled the hit “Free Soul” by The Soul Brothers. The song was Lily Allen’s first song to rise to the top of the UK Singles Chart. “Smile” rose to a peak position of number forty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100.
Photo: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com
Updated November 5, 2023
Top 10 Lily Allen Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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