Avril Lavigne’s Debut Album Let Go Will Forever Be Her Best & Only Noteworthy Album

camjameson
Written by camjameson
/ 10 mins read

In the years since she first captured the hearts of mainstream audiences everywhere with her delightfully Alternative attitude & approachable Skater Punk aesthetics, Avril Lavigne has more or less fallen down the rabbit hole into a nightmarish world of mediocrity, delving further & further into monotony with every subsequent album. In Under My Skin, she seemingly dropped her streetwise persona altogether in favour of a more Liz Phair sort of kitsch-iness, she regressed into a self-centered snob of a pre-teen performer in The Best Damn Thing through which she not only insulted Japanese Kawaii culture several times but also created a brand new standard of garishly bratty behaviour for young girls to identify themselves with in the Teen Pop romp “Girlfriend,” followed by two consecutive albums – Goodbye Lullaby & Avril Lavigne – that were so banal nobody even remembered they came out, too focused on her relationship with Nickleback frontman Chad Kroeger to give a damn about her music; This, of course, culminated in her wholly underwhelming 2019 release Head Above Water that saw her adopt a faux-Christian persona after a short stint with Lyme disease in an attempt to ‘reinvent’ her public image, a move that only served to prove how devoid of character & integrity she is as a musician – Looking back, then, it’s understandable that her breakout album Let Go still sits atop the list as the singular most important piece of media she’s ever released, figuratively overflowing with personality & capitalizing on the very essence of adolescence at the turn of the century, youngsters looking for any sort of mainstream outlet for their furious angst that could delight the senses whilst straying far away from the overwhelming positivity of the Teen Pop acts who’d ruled the airwaves in the years prior. It was & still is a picture-perfect representation of just how awkward the transition from child to teen can be in the American scene as you struggle to find your place amidst the hormonal changes of puberty, trying on different personas & finding cliques of like-minded individuals through which your unbridled angst & apathy can be channeled for good. There wasn’t any concern for grandiose thought experiments or introspective analyses of life’s purpose, just a bunch of entertaining Pop Punk numbers with a feminine touch that made every teen want to find a girl just like her, showing that you didn’t have to be some blonde bombshell or the most talented singer in the world to be noticed so long as you had some raw emotions boiling in your heart & a counter-culture attitude that said ‘fuck the system.’

“It’s The Brand America’s Teen’s Adore”

It’s not that complicated, really: You either loved Avril Lavigne when she first hit the scene or you were an old fuddy-duddy who hated having fun in any way, shape or form. This is due in large part to her debut single “Complicated,” a multi-award winning tune about fighting to maintain sanity in the face of backstabbing friends, uncertain interpersonal relationships & the general troubles of losing your innocence as you approach teenage life, all of which garnered such a distinct appeal with younger listeners that the track & subsequent album broke several all-time sales records for Pop artists, solo-female performers & teen musicians in one fell swoop – It’s actually quite astonishing this song had as much of an impact as it did when it dropped, as its lyrics are so loosely thrown together that they’re barely comprehendible, continuously beginning a thought in the verses & choruses without ever actually resolving the conflict by the end of each phrase, resulting in a mic that’s catchy for the sake of being catchy without really giving its listeners a compelling story to learn from by the time they’re done; That said, maybe part of the song’s whole appeal was merely the fact that it could get stuck in your head for hours on end whilst making you feel comfortable in expressing yourself, its mix of lackadaisically-strummed acoustic guitars & electric riffs feeling just edgy enough to not appear corny while simultaneously pumping out tender chord progressions that made you want to cry your eyes out, ultimately allowing her typically 12 to 23-year old male listeners to process their feelings in a manner that didn’t rob them of their oh-so-important masculinity back in the pre-Emo days when society still thought being sensitive was equivalent to having the bubonic plague – Before Lavigne became the girl everyone wanted to impress with their drawings of skulls & skateboards on composition-notebooks intended for fifth-period English class, you had to wallow in your insecurities by blasting Backstreet Boys & Christina Aguilera in private as not to be made a fool of by your entire class, so the notion that she could wrap all of these sensibilities into a much more approachable Punk-facing package was absolutely novel, literally changing the way both men & women – well, teenage boys & girls, more accurately – were allowed to express themselves in the very beginning stages of the internet revolution; I mean, I can distinctly remember being able to open up about my own insecurities with more pride in eighth-grade after finding out the class-heartthrob also appreciated Avril Lavigne’s music, strengthening the crush I had on her & improving my standing in her eyes since I was now identified as someone with shared interests who wasn’t just trying to incessantly court her with machismo as all the jocks were that year.

The One-Two Punch That Sealed The Deal

For all the success Avril Lavigne found with her debut single, it was absolutely nothing compared to the incredibly explosion of interest she received with her second single “Sk8er Boi,” easily the most recognizable number from Let Go & the first tune to come to mind when someone asks you to name a Lavigne joint. This track really drove home the whole skater-girl aesthetic for her, if not in its blatantly-obvious skateboard-referencing lyrics then in its incredibly bright & upbeat instrumentation, delivering a wonderfully-spunky collection of palm-muted guitar riffs that burst open into wild arrays of distorted melodic brilliance during the choruses & frenetic percussion rhythms that kept the song light-spirited but fun, not to mention this was the first time Lavigne really opened up her pipes when singing, showcasing her ability to dip from soothing soft-spoken vocals to flirtatiously raunchy harmonies at a moment’s notice, her relative grittiness making her a far-cry from the coy Teen Pop idols we’d been force-fed for years – Of course, it’s wasn’t only her music that struck it big with audiences here, but also her iconic ‘sk8er girl’ style which – though certainly present in the music video for “Complicated” – suddenly had a narrative that actually fit with the character she was trying to portray thanks to a music video centered around skating & being an all-around menace to society, singlehandedly sparking a brand new fashion phenomenon anyone with even a tertiary interest in Punk culture or at the very least access to Hot Topic could easily recreate without all the hassle of a traditional Punk look. For instance, remember the class-heartthrob from my previous statement about eighth-grade who everyone was clamoring to date? Yea, well, while I’d been crushing on her for all of seventh-grade, when she suddenly showed up the next year – Let Go came out over the summer – sporting thick racoon-eye eyeliner, a plain wife-beater, a necktie, sweatbands & low-rise baggy jeans with a checker-studded belt, not only did she look cool as fuck but the whole class was miraculously interested in talking to her, rushing out to the stores to buy the Avril Lavigne album they’d overlooked just for a chance to understand the artist she so clearly loved. The style became a desirable entity in its own right, giving young women a popular look to define themselves with that told everyone from a glance ‘I’m probably going to cuss & burp & I don’t care if you’re grossed out by that,’ which, naturally, was pretty much the ideal in Alternative circuits; Sure, it was also a super-generic style that also signified a lack of originality, as anyone with Punk-leaning interests generally experimented with clothing in much more resplendent ways that made them absolutely unique among peers, but that doesn’t change the fact that ‘sk8er boi’ was now a term of both endearment & ridicule across the schoolyards, a movement of such immense appeal popularized by a single exhilarating song – If that’s not a testament to how powerful Lavigne was at the time, nothing is.

Far More Than Just A Handful Of Hits

We can sit here & talk about the cultural impact of Let Go or the fantastic feminine energy of fellow number-one hits like “I’m With You” all we want, but that’d be doing the album a disservice, as there’re so many more moments of songwriting brilliance across the record that further illustrate just how entertaining Avril Lavigne once was & how far she’s fallen from grace in the interim. Joints like “Unwanted” assault the listener with an impressive sense of scale & scope thanks to magnificent rhythmic momentum, incredibly forceful lyricism & a level of fidelity in the tune’s recording that feels so utterly cinematic you’d think it was a Pop Rock number from the mid-noughties, while others like “Anything But Ordinary” seamlessly combined elements of Kylie Minogue, The Cranberries & Shania Twain with bits of Electropop sensibilities to create a delightfully-soothing Diner Pop bop that rested somewhere between nineties-era Shoegaze & noughties-era Teen Pop; Hell, even “Nobody’s Fool” manages to capture a lot of the charm & delicacy of a Lisa Loeb number whilst kicking up the intensity a bit, giving modern audiences the natural progression of a then-anachronistic sound with bits of new-age Punk attitude thrown in for good measure. Contrast all of this, then, with the early career of Ashlee Simpson & you start to see why people were able to look past all the seemingly cringeworthy marketing schemes to appreciate the bold attitude within, as Simpson literally tried to create a Punk-leaning character for the sake of spiting her sister & scoring a record deal while Lavigne just seemed to embody everything she was singing about, earning a few pints of authenticity that would help her overall image & maintain her status as a Pop Punk Princess all these years later – So, yeah, I never thought I’d be saying this but upon returning to her portfolio, I’ve gotta admit Avril Lavigne’s debut album Let Go is nothing short of perfect, hitting every single mark it needed to leave a lasting impact on both the Rock & Pop music industries in addition to setting up an incredibly-high expectation of quality the likes of which she’d never be able to overcome even after nearly twenty years. I’m not necessarily surprised that it’s prevailed this long, having been the catalyst of many a fellow-Punk’s self-discovery & the progenitor of trends we still associate with the early-noughties to this day, but I’m nonetheless saddened that things didn’t pan out the way audiences deserved to have them pan out, ‘cause this healthy start could’ve led to a brilliant career as one of the Rock scene’s most prolific female icons, keeping the ship afloat rather than letting it succumb to Electronic-influenced Pop music that’s led to the most banal productions ever in the last decade.

2. Track List (13)

3. Official (12)

4. Live (13)

5. Featuring Remixes (10)

7. Similar Albums (1)

8. Similar Artists (13)

9. Album Info

About

Let Go is the debut studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne. It was released on June 4, 2002, by Arista Records. For a year after signing a record deal with Arista, Lavigne struggled due to conflicts in musical direction. She relocated to Los Angeles, where she recorded her earlier materials for the album; the kind of sound to which the label was not amenable. She was paired to the production team The Matrix, who understood her vision for the album.
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Songwriter

  • Avril Lavigne

Label

  • Arista

Producer

  • Antonio "L.A." Reid (executive)
  • The Matrix
  • Clif Magness
  • Curt Frasca
  • Peter Zizzo