Song of the Day #67: ‘Littlest Things’ – Lily Allen

Alex brought this up the other day and I told her I’d put it on my blog, so here I am being true to my word.

It’s funny how some British artists completely mask their accents in song while others sing it like they speak it. Is this a deliberate choice in either direction? Or is it the luck of the draw? And if it is a deliberate choice, in which direction?

In other words, do the non-accented singers (like, say, Bono) go out of their way to sound “American,” perhaps in the interest of U.S. sales? Or do the accented singers (like today’s choice, Lily Allen) play up their natural accents in song for effect?

I don’t know that there’s a definitive answer to this question, and I certainly don’t intend to attempt an answer now. My hunch is that the singers masking their accent are doing it on purpose. What do you think?

As for Lily Allen, I adore her cockney accent. If she’s playing it up for effect, the effect is a marvelous one (I particularly love her pronunciation of the word “dirt” in this song). I can’t imagine her album (Allright, Still) being half as effective without it.

This song is the softest on the album, and the closest to a ballad. The repeated piano motif that plays under her vocals was cribbed from an Emmanuel movie, and it’s a perfect touch. Allright, Still is filled with perfect touches, and it’s one of my favorite albums of the past few years. I can’t wait to see what Allen comes up with next.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #67: ‘Littlest Things’ – Lily Allen

  1. Dana says:

    First, as for the accent-notice it is more pronounced in the verse, which is more a rap. I believe that most accents fade away in singing because much of accent has to do with intoation–which, of course, becomes altered when singing. I doubt any artust deliberately tries to Americanize their singing, though I suspect some do go the other way to stress a Cockney or English effect.

    Nice song. Never heard of this woman. Not sure if it really bowled me over enough to hear more.

  2. Alex says:

    While her voice is nice enough, I find her accent distracting. I would agree with Dana that artists don’t deliberately try to Americanize their accents, but maybe I’d be more inclined to listen to the rest of Lilly Allen’s album if she did.

  3. Amy says:

    I like this song and could imagine adding ms. allen to the rotation if the rest of her album is this good. As for the accents, I haven’t the foggiest idea 🙂 How about artists who sing in two distinct languages? Can you hear the trace of an accent when they sing in their non-native language? I would think that singing is a natural extension of talking and a strong accent in speech should translate to at least a negligible accent in song. So if that accent isn’t showing up, I would think that some attempt had been made to soften it, if not to Americanize it.

  4. Kerrie says:

    Hey, I’ve been long absent from commenting because I’m a little overwhelmed with work and school these days, but I do still check the blog on a daily basis. I had just a second so I thought I’d chime in here.
    First, I thoroughly enjoyed this song. I’ve heard talk about Lily Allen but hadn’t ever heard one of her songs. This one is a charmer that could end up in my regular rotation.
    On the issue of accents, I tend to agree with Amy that the stronger the accent in speech, the more likely it is to come through in song. The best recent example I can think of is Paolo Nutini (the Italian Scotsman). Listen to his song “New Shoes” and you’ll see what I mean. It’s completely sung (not rap-style like this one) and he couldn’t deny his Scottish origin if he tried (in some spots more than others). I find it kind of endearing.

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