British singer Lily Allen has the pop-verse twitching with Hard Out Here, a hilarious satire of pop culture and music-biz sexism.
The video, which had racked up more than 3.5 million hits on YouTube two days after its Wednesday release, opens with Allen getting liposuction while being lectured by an executive type about letting herself go, then segues to the bemused singer leading dancers as they slap their madly twerking behinds amid a stream of other pop visual tropes – banana-eating, champagne-bottle licking, blatant product placement.
Meanwhile, Allen sweetly intones lyrics like "No need to shake my ass for you cause I’ve got a brain" and "You better fix your face or you’ll end up on your own." In the chorus, she takes back pop and rap’s common pejorative for women.
Hard Out Here immediately generated controversy online, with some lauding it as a timely take-down, and others accusing Allen of being racist for using black dancers (four of the six) and catering to booty-oglers in the name of feminist satire.
Allen and director Chris Sweeney shot back that the dancers were chosen for ability, not color, and that they had to show the cliches to make fun of them. After all, Allen does sing: "If you can't detect the sarcasm, you've misunderstood." But as she says in the chorus, "It’s hard out here for a bitch."