Since the release of her 2009 album It’s Not Me, It’s You and her subsequent hiatus from music, Lily Allen’s been keeping pretty busy with things not do with the pop charts.

As anyone who saw her in the TV miniseries Rags To Riches knows, Allen spent her time out of the game launching her own fashion rental store with her sister, got marriedsuffered a misscarriage, and successfully became a mum  while dabbling in acting and starter her own record label (In The Name Of).

Luckily, there’s been sporadic activity showing that she’s making her way back to the field she’s known for, including surprise live appearances, a short-lived change of stage name, and work on a new album.

Now nearly four years on from her sophomore release, Lily Allen releases her first new solo material, but it’s not necessarily a taste of the album she’s been reportedly working on with producer Greg Kurstin, instead it’s a rather schmaltzy taste of Christmas cheer.

The new Lily Allen track was recorded as part of a new holiday advertising campaign for UK department store chain John Lewis, namely, a cover version of ‘Somewhere Only Know’, the breakout 2004 single from fellow Brit hit-makers, Keane.

The recorded tribute features Allen’s distinctive cockney-inflected brogue but sees her singing with a touching lilt as she puts a wintry, string-laden spin to Keane’s Coldplay-esque original. Allen’s cover soundtracks an animated commercial in which a cartoon rabbit helps a bear out of hibernation to join the woodland festivities in the joys of Christmas.

The advert and accompanying Lily Allen score is part of a reported £7 million advertising push by John Lewis over Christmas, continuing an annual tradition of popular artists recording covers, starting with Ellie Goulding’s version of ‘Your Song’ in 2010, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love’ as performed by Gabrielle Aplin for last year’s marketing, as NME points out.

The sentimental Christmas commercial soundtrack may not quite be the comeback single that Lily Allen diehards were hoping for, but it’s already displayed that the UK singer’s popularity has diminished none, with downloads of the new single skyrocketing following its release. The sentimental Christmas commercial soundtrack may not quite be the comeback single that Lily Allen diehards were hoping for…

It was enough for British bookies, William Hill, to peg the 28-year-old pop recluse for the top of the charts for a highly coveted #1 single over Christmas, as NME reports.

“John Lewis’s Christmas adverts are becoming just as much a festive tradition as turkey and trimmings and there is a good chance that once people get into the spirit, the single will be flying off the shelves,” a representative of the bookmakers said in a statement, though Allen’s odds have been ‘slashed’ from 16/1 to 7/1 since the release of the single just days ago.

Regardless of whether Santa snaffles Lilly Allen a #1 for her Keane cover, the new track precedes the release of Allen’s new album – expected sometime in 2014.

Last year, it was reported that Allen was prepping new material with It’s Not Me… producer Greg Kurstin along with a since-scrapped name change (to Lily Rose Cooper).

More recently, Allen spoke about the progress of the album, which was “shaping up pretty well – It’s not an earnest ‘I’m a mum’ kind of record,” the singer told NME in September. “It’s empowering. There’s some feminist vibes going on. It’s the same old me with a bit of swearing going on. Good choruses, key changes here and there – that’s it!”

Allen also admitted she had some nerves about returning to the music world proper after such an extended absence from the industry: “I’m really nervous because I haven’t been on stage for a really long time. I’m actually really scared,” she says.

“The music thing is great – creating is what I do. But being catapulted back into the limelight is something I’m anxious about, mainly because I’ve got two children now,” she adds, having given birth to her second child, Marnie, in January this year; “It’s not just me – I’ve got family to think about.”

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