Category: Lily Allen

Reports: France's controversial three-strikes law gets approved; Elton John joins U.K. debate

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The sharing of music via the Web has become a hot topic this week in Europe. As major pop stars debate proposed legislation in Britain, the French parliament today approved a controversial Internet piracy bill, according to multiple news reports from the country.

The bill, writes 24-hour news service France 24, is "one of the toughest ever drafted in the global fight against the illegal downloading of films, music and computer games." Backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the anti-piracy legislation could ultimately lead to the suspension of a user's Internet account.

It has faced toughed opposition in France, including an anti-constitutional charge last spring from the Socialist party, which promised, according to this Reuters report, to mount a second challenge. The party objected to an earlier draft of the bill, which would have created a separate entity with the power to sever a user's Internet access. The approved draft today would put that control in the hands of a judge, who on the third strike could hand down an Internet ban, a fine or a jail sentence.

Ominously, users would also be held responsible for the actions of third parties who piggyback onto their Web connections and use it to illegally download copyrighted works. France24 writes that citizens could be found guilty of "negligence," and face a month-long suspension of Internet service or a fine of up to 1,500 euros ($2,219).

The news from France comes as more artists are speaking out about proposed anti-piracy legislation in England. The government is currently considering tougher measures on those who share music, including the suspension of one's Internet account.

Elton John added his voice to the debate today.

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Lily Allen, Radiohead on opposite sides of heated British file-sharing debate

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A file-sharing debate in England that could have wide-ranging effects on how music is distributed via the Internet is getting heated. Lines are being drawn between artists, with pop singer Lily Allen taking to the Internet to question the stance of the Featured Artists Coalition, a not-for-profit lobbying group that aims to educate and protect the rights of artists.

Allen had expressed support for proposed legislation backed by Lord Peter Mandelson, which could ultimately suspend users' Internet accounts if they were deemed to have engaged in illegal downloading. The FAC, which counts Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Billy Bragg, Annie Lennox and Radiohead among its members, released a statement today that said talks with record labels to reach a compromise had broken down.

"We have negotiated in good faith with the labels all week, but they remain wedded to the idea of suspension of accounts," the coalition said in a statement. "We remain steadfast in our belief that making threats against individual music fans is not an effective way to resolve any problems associated with file-sharing. So while we will willingly collaborate together on many levels of our business, in respect of this particular issue, we have agreed to disagree."

Allen, meanwhile, is rallying in support of the government. In a post on her recently launched blog It's Not Alright, she notes today that she is not looking for a fight with the FAC, yet still questions the group's argument. Writes Allen: "The FAC seems to be viewing the government’s proposed legislation as an attack on freedom and liberty, but stealing’s not really a human right, is it?"

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Twitter war: Lily Allen takes on Perez Hilton: 'God, you're like so obsessed with me'

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On a day when she should have been celebrating a No. 1 album in the U.K., British pop star Lily Allen was fighting.

There's been lots of action in the rock 'n' roll Twitter world today. Idolator has already detailed the fake Miley Cyrus who was posting tweets under her name. Far more entertaining was the back-and-forth between Allen and gossip blogger Perez Hilton.

The two got into it this a.m. when Perez posted some mocking photos of Allen's weekend in the Bahamas. While a part of Pop & Hiss wishes Lily wouldn't acknowledge such posts, the ensuing drama resulted in some procrastination-worthy back-and-forth. Indeed, even when we're not in a place to listen to Allen's spry new album, "It's Not Me, It's You," she's keeping us entertained.

When Perez egged her on, jokingly posting that he should be cast in Allen's next video, the Brit shot back with the strongest line of this mini-Twitter tussle: "oh, I'm sorry , we've already cast the jealous and bitter lonely old queen role. Next time eh ?"

The two then touched on the drastically lowering cost of digital albums, debated who was more obsessed/jealous with whom, and even brought Katy Perry's name into the scrap. Ultimately, Allen blocked Perez, and normally, seeing a pop star get into such a gossip war would distract from the music (read our review of Lily's new album here). But even on Twitter, Allen has a knack for turning life's daily sideshows into spirited theater.

-- Todd Martens

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Album review: Lily Allen's 'It's Not Me, It's You'

Lilyallen Saucer-eyed provocateur Lily Allen had to impress with her follow-up to "Alright, Still," the 2006 record launched by a few charming, if slight, MySpace demos. Producer Mark Ronson gave her debut its bouncy retro-meets-reggae identity, but she did well to return to producer Greg Kurstin, whose resourceful fingerprints are all over "It's Not Me, It's You," Allen's full-blown entree into character-driven pop.

Maybe more than any other pop star at the moment, Allen reveals her personality, or at least her cheeky confection. She's mischievous, sweet as powdered sugar, backstabbing at her worst and absolutely irrepressible.

Her gift for satire -- which roams from boudoir to parties to politics, with mixed results -- is encapsulated on "The Fear," a poison arrow aimed at celebrity. It extends to herself in "Him," a rumination on God, in which she pokes a needle into her too-precious concept with knowingly ridiculous lines such as "I don't imagine he's ever been suicidal / His favorite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival." In "Never Gonna Happen," she berates a clingy boy while dragging him into the sack.

The Bird and the Bee's Kurstin, who wrote the album with Allen, knows how to play to his heroine's strengths with a battery of deft touches. Vaudeville, show-tune theatrics, lonely dance-floor pop and even a smidge of cartoon country give "It's Not Me, It's You" its clever foundation that references pop culture with the same insatiability as Allen's lyrics.

Allen will always be revered by some and reviled by others for her acidic wit that sometimes skims over herself. For all her insights, she's flawed, sometimes hypocritical. She doesn't look too deeply, and let's hope she never does -- or else it'll be no fun at all.

--Margaret Wappler

Lily Allen
"It's Not Me, It's You"
Capitol
Three stars

Album review: The Bird and the Bee's 'Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future'

Birdbee_2 The Bird and the Bee, the project of singer Inara George and Lily Allen’s producer Greg Kurstin, makes exquisite dinner party music. That’s not a slight — like any other subgenre, it has its good and its bad, its watered-down faux bubbly and its liquid gold. And the Bird and the Bee’s second album, “Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future,” is on the liquid gold side — let’s say Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, because Françoise Hardy probably drinks it.

Building crisp pop imbibements that can stand up to several listens is no easy task, but the Bird and the Bee has found the trick: Complex melodies constructed of several simple, shiny parts, all revolving around George’s breathy voice, the calling card of a nocturnal party sprite who might be cooing her songs at a flirty soiree.

But she’s also not afraid to command the center: “Polite Dance Song” is a showcase for Kurstin and George’s sly wit. Over an arched eyebrow of a beat, George demands, with extra sugar, for you to dance. She’s also adorably kooky: In “Diamond Dave,” a perfumed mash note for David Lee Roth, she pledges her undying love for the king of the unitard.

There are moments when the party cools, when George retreats to an introspective center, but that’s what you play when everyone’s gone and you still have all those dishes to do and only a drop of Veuve left.

--Margaret Wappler

The Bird and the Bee
“Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future”
(Blue Note)
3 stars

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