"Hard Out Here" (CD Single)

Music review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
"Hard Out Here" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Smart satire of pop culture misogyny; some profanity.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Allen calls out the haters and decries misogyny and the way record companies use women as objects of sexual desire. Female empowerment is presented in witty rhymes and an over-the-top music video that mocks the hypersexuality of rap videos.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The fact that a bona fide pop star like Lily Allen continues to stand up for body positivity and her right to freely express herself is quite inspiring. She openly challenges popular notions of female beauty, highlighting the absurdity of expecting women to be thin and perfect.

Violence
Sex

To show how desensitized the masses are to vulgar and disrespectful imagery, Allen utilizes a team of scantily clad, twerking dancers spanking each other and gyrating in slow motion. In a critique of the double standard women and men are held to, she sings, "If I told you about my sex life, you'd call me a slut." She also tells her audience to "forget your balls and grow a pair of t-ts."

Language

Allen draws attention to the widespread acceptance of the word "bitch" by repeating it over and over again, almost playfully skewering the omnipresent misogyny in pop culture. She also defiantly states, "Don't need to shake my ass for you 'cuz I've got a brain." There's also a reference to the "Blurred Lines" video, with large balloon letters proclaiming behind her "Lily Allen has a baggy p---y."

Consumerism

The music video features a Rolls Royce, shiny rims, and cash being waved around, but all this imagery is clearly part of the satire of materialism in hip-hop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The video shows girls smoking e-cigarettes and spraying each other with champagne, but again this is part of the social commentary.

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byM&M1995 August 22, 2014

Lily Allen takes on pop royalty in ironic song all about female empowerment.

Lily Allen highlights ridiculous double standards and stereotypes, and delivers a positive message which seeks to empower women in "Hard Out Here" wit... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byhugopaws January 22, 2014

Hard Out Here

In the first 13 seconds of Hard Out Here, Allen has already said b***h. The main concern in this song is that the word b***h is used over 70 times, really pushi... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFungal123 January 19, 2014

Teens and adults only

Good song for teens but not for little kids and the video is um....

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?

Music details

  • Artist: Lily Allen
  • Release date: November 17, 2013
  • Type: Single
  • Label: Parlophone
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes

For kids who love smart pop music

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