Lily Allen's 'Hard Out Here' is direct response to the music industry's sexualization of young female acts.
Lily Allen marked her return following four years away from the music business on Tuesday (November 12, 2013) with a new song and video, Hard Out Here - a scathing parody of the modern pop video and the overly-sexualized requirements of female singing stars.
The 28-year-old's absence from the music industry came as acts like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus began thriving with highly sexualized videos and lyrics. Even the likes of Taylor Swift - previously considered a girl-next-door country pop singer - is now dancing around the stage in more provocative outfits.
In the new video, Allen is laid flat on an operating table as surgeons go to work. A suited male music executive asks how she possible managed to "get like this," with Lily replying, "Um...I had two babies." A sexually provocative video plays in the background.
The singer - who rose to prominence with her debut album Alright, Still (2006) - is then asked to recreate the video by dancing provocatively, throwing money around and fellating a banana as bikini-clad dancers gyrate around her.
Lyrically, the song is straight-up critique of the music industry's treatment of female artists. "If I told you 'bout my sex life, you'd call me a slut/ When boys be talking 'bout their bitches, no one's making a fuss," she sings, adding, "You should probably lose some weight, because we can't see your bones."
"I would say we have definitely entered a new chapter," Christopher Sweeney, the director responsible for Allen's comeback video told The Independent. "I was pretty shocked by "Pour it Up" and I didn't think I was very shockable. There's a one-upmanship thing going on that is quite extraordinary. With Miley you just think, what is she going to do next?"
2013 has certainly been the year of Miley Cyrus - whose antics at the MTV Video Music Awards became the most talked about moment in entertainment since Kanye's infamously BEYONCE HAD THE BEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME speech. After 'twerking' on a fully grown man in the form of Robin Thicke, Miley went on to shoot her Wrecking Ball video with Terry Richardson in which she straddled a wrecking ball...naked.
The new video is released in the same week as the launch of Rewind&Frame, a new online campaign calling on the music industry and the Prime Minister to introduce cinema-style ratings on music videos. The Labour MP Kerry McCarthy told The Independent on Sunday: "When I was young, videos showed Abba wearing tight trousers and wriggling their bottoms - now, it has become more sexualised. We're convinced there must be some harmful impact of this, even if it's just some women feeling more vulnerable and insecure."
In BBC Radio 6 Music's John Peel lecture in October, singer Charlotte Church blasted "the culture of demeaning women" in music, accusing label bosses of pressing young acts "present themselves as hypersexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win."
Lily Allen will likely release her third album in early 2014.
Lily Allen Performing At The O2 Academy in Glasgow
Miley Cyrus's antics haven't exactly gone unnoticed