"LDN" (shorthand for "London") is a single by Lily Allen which was released in the UK on 25 September 2006. It was co-written by Future Cut, and features a Colombian porro from the country's Caribbean coast. The song was originally released on strictly limited edition 7" vinyl (500 copies) in the UK on 24 April 2006, accompanied by album track, "Knock 'Em Out," and was re-released in September following the huge success of Allen's first mainstream single "Smile". The re-release peaked at number six on the UK singles chart. The song is used in the soundtrack of the film The Nanny Diaries, and in the trailer for Happy-Go-Lucky. This song was number 30 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007. In 2008 the song was included in the soundtrack of the Mike Leigh film Happy-Go-Lucky. Allen claims that the inspiration for the song was William Wordsworth's poem "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802".
Regal Records gave Allen £25,000 in 2005, when she signed to the label, a fact which she considered to be a "small development idea". The money was to produce an album, though they were unable to provide much support for it due to their preoccupation with other releases. Taking advice from Lady Sovereign, the singer created an account on MySpace and began posting demos in November 2005. By March 2006, they attracted thousands of listeners, and 500 limited edition 7" vinyl singles of one of the demos, a song titled "LDN", were rush-released and sold for as much as £40, thus the song becoming her first actual single. Allen also produced two mixtapes to promote her work. As she accumulated tens of thousands of MySpace friends, The Observer Music Monthly took interest. Few people outside of her label's A&R department had heard of Allen, so the label was slow in responding to publications who wanted to report about her. Her label wasn't pleased with the sound of the demos, so they assigned the singer to top producers and songwriters, and after they finally approved some of her songs, confident on the inclusion on the album. Among the songs that Allen claimed she was happy with was "LDN".
"LDN" is mobile phone text language for London. The lyrics are of Allen describing a bicycle ride through her hometown of London. Set to a cheerful tune, the lyrics first appear to describe an innocent scene, "A fella looking dapper, and he's sittin' with a slapper", but follow up revealing a less glamorous reality, "Then I see it's a pimp and his crack whore."
Several episodes from "city life" are described, suggesting that things may not be what they seem: "When you look with your eyes everything seems nice, But if you look twice you can see it's all lies." However, Allen finds these sights "priceless", and asks (possibly sarcastically), "Oh why, oh why, would I wanna be anywhere else?". The lyrics might take part of their inspiration from William Blake's poem "London", which paints the city in a similar light.
There have been two music videos made for "LDN", the first being a low budget affair to promote the original 7" release and the second to promote the re-release.
The first version of the video, recorded in speed-up camera, follows Allen riding her bike through London. It depicts many positive aspects of London, showing her taking a friendly photograph with a police officer, greeting a passer-by, eating at an ice cream café and relaxing in the public park, seeing people playing and having fun. She then travels on the London Underground, getting off at Ladbroke Grove tube station, where she then rides the bike around the palace area (outside the gate) then through the streets.
The second version of the "LDN" video was produced to be more in line with the song's lyrics, particularly, "When you look with your eyes, everything seems nice, but if you look twice, you can see it's all lies." It opens with Allen in a record store called "Tough Grade" which is a play on Rough Trade, a record store in London at Talbot & Portobello Road. She asks the store manager for an eclectic piece of music, satirising keywords that have been used to describe her album - "punkyelectronica.. kind of grime....kind of like...new-wave grime...but kind of maybe like more broken beats, but kinda dubby broken beats...but a lil bit kind of soulful....but kind of drum'n'bassy, but kinda more broken drum'n'bass like more broken beats. but break beat kind of broken drum'n'bass. Kind of.... ". The song playing in the background is Allen's track, "Friend of Mine", taken from her debut album, "Alright, Still". Allen receives a phone call, from someone assumed to be her boyfriend, and arranges to meet him. She walks out of the store and walks through the downtown of London. While she walks through the street, she leaves a glowing trail of light behind her, in technicolor-like hues, and the town's atmosphere looks pleasant, fun and happy - however, as Allen moves forward the "reality" kicks in, as the scenery behind the hue transforms in sharp contrast in what it had been before, portraying litter, homelessness and violent crime in London, and the technicolour is washed out - for example, a magician's wand becomes a rusted nail, three gold coins turn into dog feces and a red sweet on the ground becomes a still-smoking cigarette butt. The video ends with Allen receiving another phone call; her boyfriend has decided not to come. Angry and unhappy, she storms away, and the vivid colour disappears to reveal the duller, more depressing reality of her surroundings.