22 (Lily Allen song)

"22" is a song by British recording artist Lily Allen from her second studio album, It's Not Me, It's You. Written by Allen and Greg Kurstin, the song was released as the fourth international single of the album, but the third in the United Kingdom, after it was decided not to promote "Fuck You" there. It was released to the music market on 24 August 2009 by Regal Recordings, though a different version called "22 (Vingt Deux)" was released in France.

22 (Lily Allen song).jpg
Single by Lily Allen
from the album It's Not Me, It's You
Released24 August 2009
Producer(s)Greg Kurstin
Lily Allen singles chronology
"Fuck You"
"Who'd Have Known"

Contemporary critics were mixed in their reviews of the song, some complimenting the rousing sound and the lyrics, which hide her maturity. The single peaked inside the top twenty of the charts of the UK Singles Chart, in Ireland, the Netherlands and Australia, giving the singer her third consecutive top twenty hit in both countries. The accompanying music video portrayed a self-reflection theme, Allen taking a view over her past-self in the mirror and realising her life was wasted on superficial matters. The song was performed live as part of Allen's 2009 concert tour. "22" also appears on the international soundtrack to the Brazilian soap opera Viver a Vida.[1]

Background and compositionEdit

While describing the album, Allen said that "we decided to try and make bigger sounding, more ethereal songs, real songs".[2] She chose "22" as a single from the album, and later declared that, lyrically, the song describes a near thirty-year-old woman realizing she's at the end of her prime.[3] The singer commented on the song's meaning:

It's more about girls that haven't figured out what they want to do with themselves. Especially really pretty girls. They can rely on their looks to an extent: people will pay for their dinners and drinks and they don't really have to think. And then suddenly it hits them that they're not doing anything with their lives and it's too late. And, yes, it's about a specific person. Most of my songs start like that and then become more general.[3]

Musically, the song is set in the time signature of common time and in the key of C minor, with a metronome of 132 beats per minute.[4] It has a basic sequence of A♭—E♭/G—Fm—G7—F7 as its chord progression, while piano, synths and percussion are used for the background music, with occasional flourishes from harpsichord and organ.[4] The single distributed in France includes a duet with French singer Ours, called "22 (Vingt Deux)",[5] which is also present on the Paris Live Session.

Critical receptionEdit

"22" received mixed reviews from music critics. Jody Rosen from Rolling Stone called the song "rousing" and single-worthy,[6] while AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine states that Allen may feel more mature than her age and rather than directly suggest it, "puts it into the character sketch" of the song.[7] Mayer Nissim of Digital Spy awarded "22" three stars and wrote that the song projects the life of a "Bridget Jones-type everywoman" and complimented the lyrics, but went on to say that Allen's "nursery rhyme melodies" are losing originality.[8] Lucy Davies from the BBC considered that if, in the singer's opinion, women who are single and approaching thirty are worthless to society, then she could be "an unreconstructed male in a young woman's body".[9] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine compared the song to Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine album.[10] A reviewer from The Canadian Press viewed the song as "nouveau-feminist ditty", which "swings on finger snaps and circus-sounding organ reminiscent of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".[11]

Commercial performanceEdit

The single debuted at number 79 on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 14,[12] giving Allen her eighth top 20 hit there. Similar success came in Ireland, where it peaked at number 12 and charted for 10 weeks, becoming her third top 20 hit from It's Not Me, It's You in that country,[13] as well as in Australia, where it climbed to its highest position at number 12,[14] and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association for selling over 35,000 copies.[15] In mainland Europe, the duet with Ours managed to peak at number 23 in France,[5] while the original version had moderate success made it chart outside the top 40 in Belgium (Flanders) and Germany, and at number 34 in Belgium (Wallonia).[14] For this, the single reached number 43 on Billboard's Eurochart Hot 100 Singles.[16] Later peaks include New Zealand at number 28, number 18 on the Dutch Top 40[17] and lower positions in Austria and Switzerland.[14] The song managed to debut at number 4 in Scotland, but fell 10 places the next week, & 20 more the next.

Music videoEdit

The 'older' Allen, as seen in the music video for "22".

The music video was shot in east London on 1 June 2009 and was directed by Jake Scott. The Daily Mirror reported that Allen was wearing a chocolate coloured dress, sporting her new short hairstyle and performing with twenty trained dancers. [18] During filming, a source stated that, "Lily is in fantastic shape and was keen to show off her curves. As with most of her videos, there are quite a few surprises in store. Lily was keen to try different things and is never afraid to poke fun at herself.

The video begins with Allen walking into a women's bathroom of a nightclub and joins other women in putting on make-up. While she sings the first verse, she stands out from the rest of the women, by seeming confused and having sloppy hair. As the refrain begins, she puts lipstick on and stares into the mirror, where her former, younger self is doing the same, in form of a reflection. Then, the 'younger' Allen carries forward with the song, as the 'older' one continues to put make-up on. During the second verse, the camera moves to the other persons in the bathroom, who are either vomiting or adjusting their clothes. As the chorus approaches again, all the women from the room gather around the mirror, with Allen in the centre, and join her in singing. The scene suddenly changes, seeing 'young' Allen alone in the same bathroom, this time with a man with whom she dances around the central sink unit, while the bridge to the song is coming to an end. She walks alone to the mirror, singing the final refrain, and sees the 'older' Allen in her reflection. Considering that she could be like that in the future, she leaves the real bathroom scene in disgust.

Track listingEdit

Credits and personnelEdit

  • Lead vocals — Lily Allen
  • Written by — Lily Allen and Greg Kurstin
  • Produced by — Greg Kurstin
  • Audio mixing — Greg Kurstin
  • Recorded by, Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Programmed by - Greg Kurstin
  • Art Direction, Commissioning - Dan Sanders

Charts and salesEdit


  1. ^ "Trilha Sonora novela Viver a Vida – CD Nacional e Internacional" (in Portuguese). Sempretops.com. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  2. ^ "Lily Allen - Full Biography". MTV Asia. Viacom. Retrieved 23 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b Sawyer, Miranda (7 December 2008). "2008 Review: Comeback of the Year". The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Lily Allen: 22 Sheet Music". Music Room. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "Lily Allen & Ours - 22 (Vingt Deux) (Chanson)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  6. ^ Rosen, Jody. "It's Not Me, It's You: Lily Allen: Review". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "AllMusic ((( It's Not Me, It's You > Review )))". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  8. ^ Nissim, Mayer (24 August 2009). "Single Review - Lily Allen: '22'". Digital Spy. Digital Spy Ltd. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  9. ^ Davies, Lucy (23 January 2009). "BBC Review It's Not Me, It's You". BBC. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  10. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (3 February 2009). "Lily Allen It's Not Me, It's You Review". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  11. ^ CP Reporter. "Lily Allen is back with 'It's Not Me, It's You'". The Canadian Press. vancouver.24hrs.ca. Retrieved 23 December 2009.[dead link]
  12. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company: Lily Allen - 22". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  13. ^ a b "Discography Lily Allen". Irish Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Lily Allen - 22 (Nummer)". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  15. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2009 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  16. ^ a b "22 - Lily Allen". Billboard. Archived from the original on 26 August 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  17. ^ a b "Top 40, 16 Januari 2010, Week 3". Dutch Top 40. top40.nl. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  18. ^ Lawler, Danielle (6 June 2009). "Lily Allen drags on a fag whilst shooting video for new single, 22". The Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  19. ^ "Lily Allen - 22 (CD)". Discogs. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Lily Allen - 22 (CD)". Discogs. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  21. ^ "Lily Allen en duo avec Ours - 22 (Vingt Deux) (CD)". Discogs. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Lily Allen - Twenty Two (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. 6 October 2001. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Chartverfolgung - Allen, Lily". Media Control Charts. musicline.de. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  25. ^ "Charts Plus Year end 2009" (PDF). Charts Plus. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
  26. ^ "British single certifications – Lily Allen – 22". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 November 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type 22 in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External linksEdit