Official Chart Flashback 2013: Lily Allen's two-pronged comeback attack with Somewhere Only We Know and Hard Out Here

Showcasing two very different sides of her pop persona, Lily gained her third UK Number 1 single and started the most controversial (and, tbh, misunderstood) era of her career.

By 2013, Lily Allen had been away for both just a little while, and an entire lifetime. 

Since releasing her accomplished second album It's Not Me, It's You in 2009 (which contained her second UK Number 1 single, The Fear) Lily had told everyone, very publicly, that she was now retired from music; concentrated on her marriage with then-husband Sam Cooper, welcoming two children in the process.

But you can't keep a good pop girlie down. Give or take near-enough half a decade and Lily was ready to return to the arena...hey, she has bills to pay too, you know. 

In the five years Lily had been away, however, the realm of pop music had begun to shift, taking its first steps into the digital streaming era. No longer was the success of a song judged on its sales or reception, there was a new element to add to the game; clicks, virality...was she up to the challenge?

In her autobiography My Thoughts Exactly (a great read, btw) Lily writes at length about the confusion surrounding her comeback and how to correctly market her, since she was now a mother of two. Her third album, Sheezus, had already been written and recorded and was waiting for release, with its obvious lead single choice being the clattering Hard Out Here, produced by Greg Kurstin. 

But then, Lily was offered the opportunity to audition to become the voice of that year's John Lewis Christmas Advert, an enviable position given that the soundtrack to 2013's Christmas advert, a cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's The Power of Love by Gabrielle Aplin, had reached Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart. 

Lily's choice of cover was a tender re-imagining of Keane's Somewhere Only We Know, stripping away some of the bombast of the original version, the perfect soundtrack to that year's heart-soaring, animated advert with cuddly friends the Bear and the Hare (yes, it's the one that made you cry). 

The release came as something of a compromise; Lily didn't take a fee for Somewhere Only We Know, and Hard Out Here was issued the week following its release, beginning her comeback proper. 

And so we come to this week in November nine (!) years ago where Lily Allen held two seperate positions in the UK Top 10; with Somewhere Only We Know rising one place to Number 1 and Hard Out Here debuting straight in at Number 9. 

Hard Out Here would be followed by another UK Top 10 single, the Shellback-produced Air Balloon (which Lily apparently hates, but it sounds like a Cher Lloyd so what's not to like) and Sheezus itself would go on to become her second UK Number 1 album, and her most misunderstood release (all posturing aside - it has bangers for days). 

Stats-wise, according to Official Charts Company data, Somewhere Only We Know has pushed over 1.3 million UK chart sales to date, including 92 million streams. Hard Out Here lags somewhat, with 222,000 chart units and over 13 million streams overall. But it still slaps, so there.

Elsewhere in the Official Singles Chart this week in 2013, Bastille were a new entry at Number 2 with their moody mash-up Of The Night, as was Gary Barlow's Let Me Go (3).

Loads of classic tracks from this, let's be honest, vintage year in pop were still hanging round too, including Little Mix's Move (8), Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball (14) and Ellie Goulding's Burn (17).

Check out the full Official Singles Chart from this week in 2013 here.

Listen to the UK Top 40 from this week in 2013 on Spotify below. Also available on Apple Music | Deezer