Lily Allen at Glamour Women of the Year Awards in 2023 and Beyoncé at the 2024 Grammys

The Internet Slams Lily Allen’s Bizarre Criticism of Beyoncé’s ‘Jolene’ Cover

Lily Allen is receiving backlash after offering a strange critique of Beyoncé’s cover of “Jolene” from her new album Cowboy Carter.

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Beyoncé is one of the most iconic singer-songwriters of the 21st century and while she is most well-known for R&B and pop music, the singer recently went in a different direction with Cowboy Carter, her very first album with a country vibe. The album was especially important as Black artists have long been excluded from the country genre. Beyoncé faced objections and criticisms rooted in prejudice for Cowboy Carter but rose above them to introduce an album that would allow listeners to experience country music from a unique lens and open the door for Black country artists fighting against those trying to gatekeeping the genre.

Although Cowboy Carter debuted to high critical acclaim, there are still some individuals who feel the need to repeat claims that Beyoncé can’t or shouldn’t provide her own take on the country genre.

Lily Allen gives her unnecessary take on Cowboy Carter

Lily Allen poses at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival
(Taylor Hill / Getty)

Recently, on her podcast, Miss Me? Allen discussed Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter with her co-host, Miquita Oliver. Allen is an English singer-songwriter, while Oliver is a TV presenter and radio personality. Although neither of them is an authority on country music, they were welcome to give their opinion on Cowboy Carter. However, when a public figure offers their opinion on something, it should at least be a thoughtful and informed take.

Instead, the pair were overly fixated on how it was allegedly “weird” that Beyoncé covered Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” on the album. Oliver started the conversation, stating she didn’t “think the ‘Jolene’ one’s good.” Allen responded, “It’s very weird that you cover the most successful songs in that genre.” Oliver went on to describe how “‘Jolene’ is such an excellent song,” praising the “genius” of Parton, before claiming that Beyoncé just did “a kind of standard hip-hop beat under a ‘Jolene’ cover.” She suggested the singer should’ve done “something” with the song, though she didn’t clarify what and seemed to ignore the fact that Beyoncé’s version is actually a remarkably original take on the classic song. Allen chimed in once again, repeating her thoughts about how weird the cover is, “I just feel like it’s quite an interesting thing to do when you’re like trying to tackle a new genre, and you just choose the biggest song in that genre to cover.”

Then, Allen inserted an unnecessary jab at Beyoncé, stating, “I mean, you do you, Beyoncé, and she literally is doing her. Or is she doing Dolly?” Allen’s take on the cover was especially strange because she couldn’t articulate one thing she disliked about it. Instead, she just repeatedly pushed this odd take that Beyoncé couldn’t cover one of the biggest songs in the country. Of course, that raises the question of why not? Why is “Jolene” supposedly off-limits for Beyoncé? After all, Parton had absolutely no issue with Beyoncé’s cover and even spoke out to praise the song. What’s “weird” is that Allen has a bigger problem with Beyoncé covering “Jolene” than the actual original singer and songwriter does.

Additionally, insinuating that Beyoncé is unoriginal or trying to be Parton is just absurd. The singer won’t even call her album “country” because it is strictly her own reinvention of the genre. The cover of “Jolene” was especially important in viewing the genre’s history through a new lens. Understandably, the internet was not impressed with Allen’s unnecessary take on Beyoncé, accusing the singer of being jealous and questioning why she felt she had the authority to insinuate Beyoncé isn’t allowed to cover a song as special as “Jolene.” Her judgment is especially strange given that she herself is preparing to release a country album.

Again, individuals are welcome to express their opinions, and it is perfectly fine if Cowboy Carter doesn’t appeal to everyone’s musical tastes. What someone shouldn’t be doing is making cryptic statements about it being “weird” that Beyoncé covered a country song and leaving everyone to have to interpret what that is implying.

Beyoncé covered a major song in the country genre with approval from Parton and did so in a way that supported the purpose of her album while respecting the song’s legacy. Singers do covers of major songs all the time, such as Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” without being accused of trying to be the singer they’re covering or of being weird, so it’s hard to see why these baseless accusations are being thrown at Beyoncé—except for the obvious reason, that is.

(featured image: Kevin Mazur / Getty)


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Author
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.