After rattling music bloggers and feminists everywhere with her polarizing "Hard Out Here" video, Lily Allen is back with a new, lighter video for her single "Air Balloon." Of course, Allen's toned-down approach isn't all that surprising after the controversy that followed Allen's flawed attempt to take down misogynist corners of the music industry such as Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" video and the expectation that every pop artist should have the body of Beyonce. Her new video seems to attempt little aside from a pleasant visual impact, but that would be a surprising departure for Allen.
The "Air Balloon" video, filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, is a playful romp through open fields of zebras and magic mushrooms, while Allen sports a bikini top, short shorts, heels, and pig tails. The song has her signature weightless bounce and in the video Allen twirls and flounces like the most easy-going of pop stars. While this video is less likely to drum up any controversy, it feels just a little too safe for the recently outspoken Brit.
But beyond that, the video feels slightly opposed to the message she was attempting to bring across in her last video. She's scantily-clad and she appears thinner than she did in "Hard Out Here," a video in which she professed distaste for an industry that expects a mother of two to be miraculously thin in order to earn her spot in pop music. When she finally winds up spinning through space dressed in a silver dress and heels, like Sandra Bullock in Gravity if she were part go-go dancer, she gives a coy, over-the-shoulder look to the camera, clearly playing into the music industry's sexy-cute pop princess demands. It all seems very ordinary — and a little dated — but could there be more to it?
Allen could be just keeping her head down, but this is the woman who originally grabbed us with a song whose most iconic lyric is the cruel, cheeky idea that "when you cry, it makes me smile." All this could be tongue-in-cheek, a subtle response to the backlash for "Hard Out Here" — if she didn't win audiences over with that message, then she'll play right into pop music expectations and seemingly play it safe, but on her own over-the-top terms (hello, giant, pulsating mushrooms).
Of course, there is always the possibility that she just really likes petting zebras and flouncing through tall grass in pigtails and high heels.