Lily Allen: Queen Of The Collabs

Bronwyn Thompson 

Is there a musical partnership Lily Allen can’t own? Ahead of her anticipated fourth album No Shame – which, yes, features a great collaboration, this time with Giggs on Trigger Bang – we look at just how many tunes Allen has taken on and made her own. 

Oh My God with Mark Ronson, 2007 

Shortly after Allen broke through with her hit album Alright, Still in 2006, she was riding high on the success of singles like Smile and ran into producer Mark Ronson at Notting Hill nightclub YoYo. After pinning a smiley badge on Ronson’s “really expensive leather jacket”, according to him, the pair struck up a friendship that led to the singer to recording this sassy, horns-laced Kaiser Chiefs cover for the producer’s 2007 album Version. Allen originally covered this song for her second mixtape a year earlier.



Drivin’ Me Wild with Common, 2007

The same year, Allen featured on hip-hop star Common’s single Drivin’ Me Wild, the third one lifted from his album Finding Forever. On it, Allen lays down a gorgeous, hooky chorus over the piano-led track sampling Love Has Fallen On Me by Rotary Connection. The collaboration came about through Kanye West, who introduced Common to Allen’s music. “I dug into her music for a while and was like, ‘Man, she’s perfect for the song,’” he says. “It’s something about her spunk that I dig. I like artists who don’t care and can be themselves.” Incidentally, West also produced this tune. Warning: You won’t get Allen’s chorus out of your head for days.



Just Be Good To Green with Professor Green, 2010

One of Allen’s biggest collaborations came about thanks to the singer sitting on social media. “We got chatting on Facebook and I mentioned the track, which turned out to be one of her favourite songs,” Green says of the tune that’s based on the SOS Band’s Just Be Good To Me, which is best known for the 1990 Beats International version Dub Be Good To Me. “She’s straightforward and honest, you always know where you’re at with her,” Green adds. Allen brings her trademark sass and attitude – not to mention killer vocals – to this dubby, rap-electronica track from Green’s debut record Alive ’Til I’m Dead.



5 O’Clock with T-Pain and Wiz Khalifa, 2011

Allen scored her first US Top 10 single by playing a starring role on this song from T-Pain’s fourth record Revolver. The singer, heavily pregnant at the time, didn’t provide any new vocals but let the American artist base a song around a sample from her 2009 tune Who’d Have Known? – and it steals the show. The video features an Allen lookalike syncing the vocals – and it’s no surprise she looks like the star. “Lily picked that girl,” says T-Pain. “That was her decision and that’s why we put her in there.”



Dream A Little Dream with Robbie Williams, 2013

Though it’s been covered by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day and the Mamas & The Papas, Pop star Robbie Williams and Allen provide a memorable version of this classic. “Dream A Little Dream is one of my favourite songs of all time so I didn’t hesitate when Robbie asked me if I’d like to duet with him on it,” says Allen of the tune that landed on Williams’s 10th album. “I was a bit nervous when we recorded it, especially when I asked him what he wanted me to do and he said something like, ‘Just be you.’ But I’m really happy with it and think we do justice to a classic song.”



True Love with Pink, 2013

While Allen gets a writing credit on this tune that features on Pink’s sixth studio set The Truth About Love, the two pop stars hadn’t actually met in person until it came time for the British singer to lay down her vocals. How? It was all thanks to Pink’s producer. “I met her for the first time after the song was recorded, but I’m a super fan of hers,” says Pink. “Greg Kurstin was our common thread,” the LA singer says of the producer who worked on Allen’s album It’s Not Me, It’s You. “I just met her for the first time when she came and sang that song with me on VH1 Storytellers… it was very strange to meet someone for the first time on stage, but I think she’s awesome – she’s so sweet.”



Shelter You with Louis Eliot, 2014

Delivering one of her most heartfelt and sensitive performances, Allen stars on this cover written by her late friend and artist Tarka Cordell, who passed away in 2008. On the emotive ballad, Allen, joined by Louis Eliot of 1990s Birtpop band Rialto, strips back the tough-Londoner pesona Allen had built up over the years to showcase a much more tender side. It’s raw and honest – two things that resonate throughout Allen’s work.


Cigarettes & Cush with Kehlani and Stormzy, 2017

While Allen plays a big role in the chorus hook of grime star Stormzy’s tune, from his 2017 set Gang Signs & Prayer, the rapper reveals she wasn’t originally named on it. “We weren’t allowed to credit her,” Stormzy reveals. “But she sings the hook with me; she’s the high-pitched vocal… I love it when singers sing in British accents.” Also starring Kehlani, the weed-referencing tune was Stormzy’s attempt to write a “free-spirited and lazy and nice” slow jam. It worked. 


Trigger Bang with Giggs, 2017

Just before Christmas, Allen made a big return to the spotlight with this tune from her forthcoming album No Shame. Produced by UK’s Fryers, it finds Allen looking back on her wayward youth, with lines such as, “I had a foot in the rave ’cause I was attracted to danger, I never got home for Neighbours.” The video, too, alludes to an autobiography, featuring a young lookalike seduced by the London party scene.



Heaven’s Gate with Burna Boy, 2018

While she’s readying her fourth album, Allen had time for yet another guest spot – on Nigerian emcee Burna Boy’s latest track. The infectious reggae-dancehall tune sees Burna Boy’s lightning-fast, rhythmic delivery work brilliantly against Allen’s ethereal, more wispy vocals – proving once again that this girl can do it all.