Monday, May 3

Lily Allen has been called all these things, and much, much more - sometimes with justification, often without. She's posh, she's common, she's sexy, she's demure, she's reticent, she's outspoken, she's sensitive, she's shameless, she's loved-up, she's distraught, often all in the same evening. Then she goes to bed, gets up and has breakfast. Then she posts her breakfast on the Internet. Then other people analyse her breakfast. And wonder why she posted it on the Internet.

Contrary, contradictory, occasionally catty, always compelling, Allen, at 23, is Britain's most consistently engaged and engaging pop star, as well as one of our most successful.

She first commandeered the public stage in July 2006, a fully formed phenomenon with a song that would help define that summer, the hugely infectious "Smile", her first CD single and her first UK number one. "Smile" served as an excellent primer for the Allen oeuvre, a breezy, lilting, ska-inflected slice of perfect pop distinguished by sugar-sweet vocals and unflinchingly autobiographical lyrics. It was a song of female empowerment sung by a smart-mouthed, wide-eyed, pretty post-teen in a pink prom dress and box-fresh Nike trainers, fluoro make-up and huge hoop earrings.