“The game is changing,” a yellow-eyed Lily Allen declares early in the colorful video for her latest single “Sheezus,” which will appear on the album of the same name next month. Now, she’s ready to join the pantheon of pop divas who have established themselves since she put out her last record, It’s Not Me, It’s You, in 2009.
She name-checks Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Lorde and Lady Gaga in the song’s chorus, reserving high praise for the latter two; “Kid ain’t one to fuck with when she’s only on her debut,” Allen sings of Lorde, and, “Dying for the art so, really, she’s a martyr,” of Gaga. But what it all leads up to is Allen’s bid to become a diva – “Sheezus,” of course – and, with her forked-tongue wit, to remind listeners all of the above get periods.
Allen recently told Rolling Stone she wrote the song backwards, beginning with the word “divas,” which rhymes with “Sheezus.” From there, the song’s message about female pop singers came to her. “I don’t like being compared to other people because I’m quite aware that there are people who are far more talented and have better singing voices than me,” she said. “I don’t like being put in the same category as people because we have the same genitals and boobs. Nobody is going to write ‘Lily Allen vs. Ed Sheeran.’ It just doesn’t happen.”
Instead, she said the song was a call for unity of sorts. Of the women she toasts in the song, she said, “I want all of them to be Sheezus, and I want to be Sheezus too.”
Allen called the album titled a “confident title choice, and a little nod to Kanye West” when she announced it in February. But unlike West’s Yeezus, which bore a sparse cover, she gave the record an ornate cover, featuring her sitting amid three corgis atop a Roman-looking building with the words “divide and conquer” written on it.
She has also released some ornate videos for the songs on the album, including “Our Time,” in which she plays all the roles including a belligerent hot-dog spokesperson, and “Air Balloon,” which finds her defying Gravity by floating in space in a way she described as “Bullock on a budget.” She has also released the tracks “L8 CMMR” and “Hard Out Here.”