Song Analysis – “The Fear” – Lily Allen


I wanna be rich
And I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever
I don’t care about funny

[The artist behind these words, Lily Allen, is a rising star. She became famous through her MySpace page. The big single on her first album was “Smile,” and the CD received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album. This song, “The Fear,” is off of her second album.

She creates a character in this song who is an opportunist, dying to be wealthy and famous. She doesn’t care if people think she’s clever or funny, because plenty of people are funny and don’t make a dime because of it. Certainly one can make a lot of money from one’s sense of humor, as a stand-up comedian, but that’s not what she’s talking about.]

I want loads of clothes
And f*&$loads of diamonds
I heard people die while they’re trying to find them

[One of the reasons her character wants so much money is so she can get the latest fashions. She wants expensive diamond jewelry even though she knows the diamond industry is a dirty business. She mentions how people die trying to find diamonds, presumably in the dark mines deep underground. Of course, there are also blood diamonds – gems used to finance violent conflicts, particularly in Africa.]

And I’ll take my clothes off
And it will be shameless
‘Cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track, yeah, I’m onto a winner

[I think it’s a little funny that the last stanza talked about buying expensive clothes and this one talks about going naked. She’s probably talking about posing nude for a magazine as so many young starlets do.
And women have become famous from just that- look at Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian.]

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
And I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
When do you think it will all become clear
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the fear

[This stanza seems as sincere as the first few stanzas were ironic. I think Lily Allen feels delirious sometimes because of the surreal nature of fame. I don’t know exactly what fear she’s talking about because I see several possibilities. It could be fear of losing her newfound fame. It could be fear of the price of fame, i.e. lack of privacy and being exposed to drugs. It could be fear of losing her soul.]

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers
It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other
But that doesn’t matter ’cause I’m packing plastic
And that’s what makes my life so f^&*ing fantastic
And I am a weapon of massive consumption
And it’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track, yeah, we’re on to the winner

[The first line in this stanza is so sharp, “Life’s about film stars and less about mothers.” Who do the media glorify? Mothers or celebrities? But we all know that the task of raising a child is infinitely more important than making a movie. And what else are we obsessed with in his modern world? We are fixated on fast cars and cursing. How many ads do we see every day for new cars? What has become our discourse become? It has fallen to such a low level. We are programmed from an early age to want to buy things. First, it’s toys and sweet cereals. Later on, it becomes video games and phones. Then we graduate to cars and houses.]

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
And I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
When do you think it will all become clear
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the fear

Forget about guns and forget ammunition
‘Cause I’m killing them all on my own little mission
Yeah I’m not a saint but I’m not a sinner
Now everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
And I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
When do you think it will all become clear
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the fear

[The idea she’s expressing is that the pen is mightier than the sword. She doesn’t need a gun or bullets. Now that she’s famous and recording music, she can destroy people through her words. She doesn’t suffer from the delusion that she is some kind of saint just because she makes popular music. Nor does she accept the idea that she’s a worthless sinner. It is challenging to sort out what words are Lily Allen speaking as herself and what words are coming from the character or persona she’s crafted. One might argue that the whole song is the character speaking. On the other hand, one could argue that the whole song is Allen speaking as herself. Though do we really believe her when she says, “I’ll take my clothes off/ And it will be shameless?” I think the more reasonable view is that some words are truly Allen’s thoughts while others are either tongue-in-cheek, or the words of an alter ego. I guess the Cliff’s Notes of this song would be that everyone wants money and fame, but it can get scary when you gain the world but lose your self.]

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  1. #1 by asad123 on February 21, 2009 - 8:57 am

    When she says she’ll look in the sun and in the mirror, she may mean that she’ll check the tabloids. The Sun and The Mirror are two English tabloids.

  2. #2 by antonmarquez on February 23, 2009 - 10:51 pm

    I’m glad you pointed out the Sun and Mirror – I forgot about the tabloids.

  3. #3 by Julia on May 3, 2009 - 5:36 pm

    diamonds aren’t mined from caves 🙂 they are usualy mined in fields or stripped mined. you did a great job though!

  4. #4 by asad123 on May 3, 2009 - 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the comment Julia. I made a correction to the post.

  5. #5 by Megan on November 4, 2009 - 5:55 pm

    thank you so much for this, really helped me to understand the song fully. i was able to pick out main points from your analysis and gain a wider knowledge for my media studies work. I am in the progess of making a music video for the fear, and was quite stuck on what i was going to be concentrating on.
    thanks again 🙂

  6. #6 by network camera on December 2, 2010 - 11:12 am

    I’m grateful for you because of this excellent content material. You genuinely did make my day :

  1. Review: Lily Allen - It’s Not Me, It’s You « MW Music Review Blog

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