Lily Allen wins paparazzi fight

JANE STEVENSON - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:17 AM ET

British pop singer Lily Allen, one of England's most scrutinized celebrities, recently struck back at the paparazzi at home.

Allen, in Toronto this week wrapping up her North American tour, says life has become tolerable again since she got a harassment order against "the paps" in the U.K. a few months ago, after an accident in which photographers crashed into her car.

"Anyone who's got a camera is not allowed to follow me in a car," said Allen, who is sporting a shorter haircut these days and is noticeably thinner.

"Interestingly enough, I've spoken about it quite a lot in the U.K. press, but none of them have printed anything because they don't want other celebrities to realize that they can do that. No one told me about it. I had to go and get my own entertainment lawyers and figure out if that was an option for me."

Now, Allen says, some of the simple joys of life are once again available to her -- such as walking her dog, running in her local park, or meeting friends for coffee -- all without the worry of having her makeup, hair and clothing just so.

"It's completely changed my life, and it's brilliant," the 23-year-old said. "I'm very happy. Now I just feel like a free agent. Before I felt like, 'Oh, look at me, I've got all this success and the downside of that is this -- people point at me, they make fun of me -- but I get paid a bit more than anyone else.' Whereas now I feel like ... 'I work really hard. I've succeeded in what I do and I'm allowed to enjoy my life.' "

Allen, the daughter of British actor-comedian Keith Allen, became famous in 2006 for her scathing, funny lyrics that often skewered old boyfriends, set against sunny pop music delivered in a trill voice, notably on her first hit single Smile.

Her music fame, though, began to take a backseat in her native England to both her public drunken behaviour -- there was that rather obvious display with Elton John when they co-presented a GQ award together -- and to her feuds with such singers as Katy Perry, Amy Winehouse and Kyle Minogue.

Allen has remained scandal-free lately, telling the hosts of The View this week that after the release of her first album, 2006's Alright, Still..., she became "more famous for being a train wreck than a singer."

Allen's second album, It's Not Me, It's You, deals with the downside of fame and celebrity, particularly on the drug-taking song Everyone's At It, and on the first single, The Fear.

"What I'm trying to say on (Everyone's At It) is, yes, people do do things that aren't considered good, but it doesn't mean that we can pass judgment on them, or write them off as being bad people."

Allen said neither governments nor society as a whole are succeeding in the battle against drug use, particularly in the U.S.

"We don't have the drug problems to the extent that I think America does," Allen said. "Most venues are usually in downtown areas, and there are always a lot of homeless people and crack addicts and prostitutes ... I've never seen anything like that in England. (It) doesn't get to that stage."

Her single The Fear seems to be targeting her own industry.

"It's a song that I had written for other people, like for young girls, really," Allen said.

"(I'll) tell you where the inspiration for it came from. I was walking down this street, in this village in the middle of the countryside in the U.K., and there was this little girl who must have been eight or nine, walking down the street with her mom in, like, high-waisted hot pants and a little crop top. And I just thought, 'That's not really right.'

"And I could tell she was the kind of girl that would be trying out for Pop Idol in five years time, and wants to be famous when she grows up. And there's definitely the whole culture of that where I come from, and it's not necessarily a culture that I think is particularly healthy. But at the same time, I'm very aware that I am a part of that culture -- but it's not something that I feel particularly comfortable with."


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