A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lily Allen's single "Hard Out Here" is a scathing and sarcastic satire of pop culture misogyny and the unrealistic expectations of feminine beauty presented by the entertainment industry. Though she uses the word "bitch" again and again to make her point, as well as some provocative imagery in the music video (including half-dressed dancers and balloons that spell out "Lily Allen has a baggy p---y"), it's all in service of the social commentary she's making, which is a refreshing and empowering message to hear in the mainstream.
What's the story?
HARD OUT HERE is a single from British pop star singer-songwriter Lily Allen, her first new music since 2009's It's Not Me, It's You. The song and accompanying music video are parodies of rap and pop culture sexism, making fun of how disrespectful the media and the industry can be to women who are expected to be "a size six" and who are told "you should probably lose some weight / 'cuz we can't see your bones." Allen knows "there's a glass ceiling to break" but recognizes that, in a male-dominated society, it's "hard out here for a bitch."
Is it any good?
Allen has long been known for her tongue-in-cheek approach to pop music and sexuality, and she nails it again here. The song is fun and catchy but also full of deep and challenging questions that encourage listeners to think critically about what exactly they're seeing and hearing in the media on a daily basis. By embracing her post-baby body (and directly referencing it in the intro to the video, which shows her getting liposuction to satisfy a record label executive) and openly decrying male expectations of appearance, Allen shows that it's possible to craft a great pop song and say something important at the same time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about hypersexuality in pop music and, particularly, the way women's bodies are used to sell products and records. What has brought us to this point, and what effect do artists like Lily Allen and Lorde, who challenge these conventions, have on the larger conversation?
Allen has been criticized by those who don't understand her method of sarcasm for featuring nearly naked girls in her video and emulating many other hip-hop tropes. Where is the line between indulgence and satire?
What do you think is more important to listeners today: lyrical content or the image and persona of an artist? How are self-proclaimed feminists such as Allen and Lady Gaga using their celebrity as a platform to discuss larger issues?
For kids who love smart pop music
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