|Lily Allen is riding high on the success of her debut disc Alright, Still... but at the moment all the 21-year-old singer wants to do is go home and get away from the music business. (Ernest Doroszuk/ Sun Media)
British pop-ska singer Lily Allen has plenty of reasons to Smile -- the title of her breakout hit -- these days.
But the 21-year-old is finding the glare of the media spotlight a little hard to take, and is ready for a break.
"I just want to go home," Allen said in an exclusive Canadian newspaper interview with Sun Media on Thursday.
"I'm tired and I want my boyfriend (A&R man Seb Chew), and my mom, and my dog. And I want to make a new album as well. I'm kind of bored of this one now."
Allen, who has gained a reputation in the British media as a potty-mouthed bad girl for speaking her mind and dropping the F-bomb in a lot of her refreshingly honest songs, including Smile, might indeed be ready to pull back. But musically she has never been hotter.
Entertainment Weekly just called Allen's debut disc Alright, Still ... (released this year in North America, after a July 2006 release in England) "as an exhilarating debut as we've had in this decade."
Allen remains skeptical of such accolades.
"I remember reading that and thinking, 'Woah, that's quite a big statement.' I think of myself as being quite uncool and quite naff (nerdy), so when I hear other people being really positive about my (music) like that, my first instinct is just get embarrassed and kind of walk off."
As for negative press -- that is, British tabloid coverage in general -- Allen is still a major target back home.
"I think because I'm not really skinny and don't go to the gym all day, they love that," Allen said. "They love being able to camp outside my house and take pictures of me in a pair of jeans, and then print it and call me fat. Especially when I'm actually not fat, I'm just not a size zero. Everyone's just really negative ... at the moment and it's just annoying me. Hopefully, it'll ease up."
Not surprisingly, Allen said she can relate to the plight of Britney Spears and the young Hollywood crowd in general.
"I think it's really sad, and I feel for her massively. And I feel for people like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. I just think, like, 'Of course they're going to be f---ed up.' Does anyone have any idea how much of a completely weird and f---ed up life that is, having to put on loads of makeup to walk out of your house because you know there's 40 photographers that are going to be following you?' I mean, you never have a minute alone."
Allen said she has paid the price for telling it like it is in both her lyrics -- Smile is about her first boyfriend who sold tales of sex and drugs to the tabloids -- and her interviews.
"I'm now less inclined to do that, because everything that I do say gets repeated in a way that I haven't said it, or taken out of context and spun in some negative way -- and it makes me really sad," she said. "I'm not, like, a negative person. I'm actually quite positive, but this industry has really made me feel angry and negative recently. I'm not enjoying it at the moment.
"I never wanted to be the next big thing. You (the media) all created that for yourselves. So I just wanted to make an album and go on a little tour and enjoy my life, whereas it's just kind of exploded and got really big too fast, and now I just want to go home."
BEING SOMETHING SPECIAL CAN BE HARD TO DO
Lily Allen, who discovered such revered homegrown Brit ska bands as The Specials through her mother, is also into indie rock and hip-hop.
The pop-ska singer seems ready to explore her musical options on her next album, if the music industry will let her.
"I don't play guitar and I just couldn't be in a band in that sense, so I couldn't do that. And I'm not black, so I couldn't be like a massive big hip-hop artist. This is all the kind of music that I really love. You know, I'd like to be able to push it further but I just don't think it's socially acceptable."
To explain further, Allen -- the daughter of actor-comedian-musician Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen -- has lived a privileged lifestyle.
In class-conscious England, that's hard to ignore.
"People are so negative about everything these days, you know, 'You've grown up in a certain way, or come from a certain place, you can't do a certain thing,' because everyone will just hit you right back down again.
"I guess if I could do anything, I wish that I could be six-foot, really skinny, a model-looking type, that's really amazing at guitar and could wear leggings and prance around on stage looking really beautiful. But that's not going to happen. So I have to settle for what's acceptable for someone like me to be able to do. I do feel restricted in a lot of ways."