Lily Allen songs ranked

I dived into Lily Allen’s nostalgic discography and ranked her 22 greatest songs of all time

Olivia Rodrigo bringing Lily out at Glasto to sing F*ck You at the Supreme Court was a moment

After that surprise appearance during Olivia Rodrigo’s set, the entire country is in an all-consuming Lily Allen era. As they absolutely should be. I truly don’t think anyone else has ever sounded like Lily Allen, with perhaps the exception of Kate Nash coming a bit close with her debut record. The way Lily pens her songs just feels special. All the Glasto hype has had me soaking back into the ol’ Lily Allen discography, and I can tell you confidently that this is her very best 23 songs ranked. Thank me later. Look in The Sun, look in the mirror – see which Lily Allen song emerges as the winner. (Sorry.)

22. Take What You Take

Look, I don’t care that Lily Allen hates this Alright, Still cut – it absolutely goes off. Lily wanted it off the record, saying “I fucking hate that song more than anything in the world. The record label said the Robbie Williams market would like it.” I think that quote is hilarious, but I’m so sorry, Lily – I love Take What You Take. Maybe am the Robbie Williams market she speaks of. The Britpop vibe bangs. Argue with your mum!

21. Apples

From one Lily Allen’s most detested songs to one of her favourites, Apples is a really fucking sad cut from No Shame about Allen’s divorce from her ex-husband Sam Cooper. Lily Allen has never been a singer to hold back with her songwriting, but Apples is one of her most rawly written and personal tracks ever, touching on how she feels like her parents now she has a failed marriage and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

20. Our Time

Lily Allen has been vocally negative towards her third album Sheezus – this is that album’s first songs entry to this ranked list and it won’t be the last. Sheezus is a bit of an ARTPOP-esque mess, but it’s still got some great and sharp writing and fun pop moments. Our Time is a Charli XCX tinged ode to the carefree nature of parties. “I wrote it in the weeks after Miley Cyrus came out with We Can’t Stop. Very inspired by that song, I love that song,” Lily Allen said.

19. Lost My Mind

No Shame’s second single, Lost My Mind, is Lily Allen doing what she does best: Creating upbeat pop music with incredibly sad lyrics. It sounds bright and bubbly, but Lost My Mind is an introspective analysis of Lily’s self described chaos following her divorce.

18. What You Waiting For?

A reggae and ska influenced bop from No Shame that harks back to the sounds of her debut Alright, Still that propelled her to huge success in the first place. There’s something so lush and infectious about What You Waiting For, and the Popcaan featuring single mix is even better.

17. Three

It’s a bit saccharine, but I absolutely adore this No Shame ballad Lily Allen wrote about her guilt over not spending enough time with her daughters. The song is sang from the perspective of her children, Marnie and Ethel, and it really hits me hard every time I listen to it. Lyrics like “You say you love me then you walk right out the door – I’m left here wanting more” get to me big time!

16. Littlest Things

A breakup song that Lily’s ex played so constantly it inspired him to get back together with her, Littlest Things was one of those songs that 10 year old me played whilst staring out a rainy window weeping over a split from a partner I’d literally never had because I was a child. And I will always love it for that. “Drinking tea in bed, watching DVDs, when I discovered all your dirty grotty magazines” lives in my mind rent free. As does “You take me out shopping and all we buy is trainers, as if we ever needed anything to entertain us.”

15. Friday Night

An ode to the chaos of a night out clubbing, this is Lily Allen storytelling songwriting at its most fun and popping. A theme that runs through my favourite Lily Allen songs ranked here is the way they all set a mood and a tone with their specificity in the lyrics – she really pinpoints the little moments in British culture and emulates it in pop music so perfectly. The pre chorus is euphoric. This song makes me want a scrap.

14. Air Balloon

Sheezus’ second single is one that Lily Allen described as her “least favourite”, so I’m sorry Lily if you ever read this ranked list of your best songs and recoil in fear at Air Balloon’s presence… but I love it. It gives me a crumb of PTSD from my time working at River Island when I was a teenager because it was on the playlist, but considering the fact it’s got some of the worst lyrics in her entire discography it’s still a fun and silly little bop that I can’t help but have a soft spot for.

13. Bass Like Home

A song that sounds absolutely nothing like any other of the Lily Allen songs ranked here, and nothing like anything else in her discography. This should have been on Sheezus, front and centre. It should have been a single with an amazing video and been number one for 10 months. It absolutely slaps. More than any song that samples Rule Britannia has any fucking right to.

12. Everything’s Just Wonderful

An amazing song that only gets more poignant as the world gets increasingly further from wonderful. Lily Allen wrote it full of sarcasm and eye-rolling irony at the time, but it hits better than ever in the fucking dire straits we’re currently living through. The elevator music production amplifies the monotony of daily life. I cherish this song because I too want to eat spaghetti bolognese and not have to think about it for days.

11. Everyone’s At It

What an outstanding way to open your second album – Everyone’s At It should have been a single. Lily takes on drug culture with a song that drags the hypocrisy of the government and the taboo way that society goes about discussing drug use. Lily has long been open about her addiction struggle, and here calls on people to be transparent about what they take rather than politicians sniffing coke in private whilst trying to “sort out” drug use in young people. Bit of a wow.

10. LDN

Looking back now it’s very funny that me as a child had no clue why this song was called LDN – it’s giving thick. This is just an absolute classic as far as I’m concerned. It should be the London theme tune. I listened to it walking through Dalston today and when she name checked Dalston in the bridge I just smiled to myself like a loser.

9. Cheryl Tweedy

I was always going to adore a song named after Girls Aloud’s most iconic export – and the drama surrounding this song makes it all the more delicious to me. Cheryl Tweedy is a song about lifestyle changes, with the “I wish I looked just like Cheryl Tweedy” being a flippant joke about beauty standards. Cheryl then made a statement saying “I’m really flattered that Lily’s written a track about me. I don’t know why she sings about wanting to be as pretty as me, as she looks stunning. I’d like to look like her.”

Lily, never once to mince her words, responded with: “I don’t want to look like Cheryl Tweedy! It’s tongue-in-cheek. It’s meant to be ironic. I don’t have anything against her as a human being. It was a joke that not many people got. Of course, nobody really wants to look like Cheryl, they just think they do.” I gasp out loud every time I read that quote. Cheryl then called Lily “a chick with a dick” when Gordon Ramsay asked her what she thought about her. Chaos.

8. Hard Out Here

A raucous lead single that hits like a slap round the chops. I don’t like the shame-y lyric “Don’t need to shake my arse for you ’cause I’ve got a brain”, but Hard Out Here is a well intentioned feminist anthem that whilst it is a little tone-deaf and 2013 at times still manages to go off and feel anthemic when it’s at its best. “Inequality promises that it’s here to stay, always trust the injustice ’cause it’s not going away.”

7. Fuck You

The song on everyone’s lips right now after Olivia Rodrigo brought out Lily to cover the song and aimed it directly at the Supreme Court in the wake of their disgusting decision to overturn Roe v Wade. Of all the Lily Allen songs ranked here, it’s Fuck You that’s power grows after a euphoric live performance. Hearing a huge field of people en mass singing an angry chorus of fuck you fuels the change.

6. Not Fair

I can only imagine what my mother thought as I bellowed Not Fair out around the house aged 12 – a song that couldn’t be more about sex if it tried. I love this chaotic country pop sound on Lily, and Not Fair is an ear worm that just never gets old. I love how frankly she was talking about sexual pleasure in the charts – it feels so defiant and radical for a mainstream female artist to talk so bluntly about not getting the orgasms she deserves and having to lie in wet patches of the bed post-blowjob. Iconic.

5. Come on Then

If there’s one thing Lily Allen is always going to get right, it’s her album’s opening track. Except for Sheezus, in hindsight, but we’ll turn a blind eye to that one on the basis that Come on Then is so outstanding. I love this absolute direct call out of the tabloids and Lily Allen’s relationship with the press – it’s bursting with artistic prowess and confidence and sets the entire tone for No Shame perfectly. What an album, what an opener.

4. Knock ‘Em Out

I can’t even begin to stress the vice grip chokehold this song had over me and my sister. We listened to it like we didn’t know any other songs. We made routines to it and performed it to each other like we were headlining our own world tour. I just love the wit of Knock ‘Em Out, the flippant chat, the sense of humour. It’s just joyous and I really don’t think any other artist could ever have recorded it. “I’ve err, I’ve got herpes!”

3. Trigger Bang

I am still agog that No Shame’s outstanding lead single Trigger Bang flopped. I thought this would be a number one hit, and almost five years later I stand by the fact it absolutely deserved to be. Giggs kicks the song off with his excellent verse, and then Lily continues to smash it out the park. It’s outstandingly written, effortlessly cool. I never tire of it.

2. Smile

Of all the Lily Allen songs ranked here, it is Smile that feels like the biggest and warmest nostalgic hug. I played this track to death as a kid, and have never stopped doing so now I’m 26. I absolutely adore every thing about it The production is wonderful, the sample of Free Soul providing the basis for the vibes. The lyrics are equal parts charming and scathing. The vocal delivery is star making, honestly. My fave bit of the whole song is the final 20 seconds, when Lily ad libs over the final chorus absolutely BEAUTIFULLY. Pure joy.

1. The Fear

I remember in 2018 when I was seriously depressed and disassociating with literally everything, in a job I hated with absolutely 0 money and having no clue where my career would go, I walked home from a shit shift and listened to The Fear and burst out crying in the middle of Liverpool. This song is beyond well written, beyond powerful – an existential anthem for the state of the nation that hits a little bit harder with every miserable piece of news the world gets.

Nobody writes a scathingly sarcastic anthem like Lily Allen, and of all the songs ranked here it is The Fear that stands head and shoulders above the rest with its abundance of wit and word play. She has never sounded so wise and so over it than she does when she spits out “And that’s what makes my life so fucking fantastic.” She might describe her life flippantly as fucking fantastic, but I would describe The Fear as such in earnest.

Recommended stories by this writer:

The 50 greatest Kylie Minogue singles of all time, ranked

• Every Taylor Swift single painstakingly ranked from worst to best

• All 39 Katy Perry singles, ranked meticulously from worst to best