1. Track List (121)

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.

Avril Lavigne Struggles To Pick Up The Pieces Of Her Shattered Career In Head Above Water

camjameson
Written by camjameson
/ 8 mins read

When you think of Avril Lavigne, there’re typically two images which pop up immediately in your head; The generic but absolutely enrapturing faux-Pop Punk era of her career with the iconic Teen bops “Complicated” & “Sk8er Boi” – the latter of which ruled my eight grade summer – or the annoying, self-absorbed, culturally-insensitive garbage of her third album when she was trying to make the whole ‘I’m a fucking princess” gimmick stick in songs like “Girlfriend” form her horrendous third record – After The Best Damn Thing dropped in 2007, it was pretty much unanimously decided that the mainstream music industry would excommunicate Lavigne as a person & a musician, nipping things in the bud in order to prevent her from causing further damage to the Pop music realm, an act that for all intents & purposes actually seemed to work in subsequent years as she faded from all popular media altogether. Her next few records barely made a splash outside her immediate circle of followers & the world seemed genuinely pleased with her absence as the industry continued to shift away from Club Dance & Pop Punk sensibilities, some even going so far as to claim she’d committed suicide in various conspiracy theories to explain her irrelevance in the modern age, but a short stint with Lyme disease would soon thrust her back into the limelight, softening everyone’s harsh criticisms & building hope that her forthcoming record Head Above Water would be the one to break the cycle, presenting audiences with a more mature Lavigne who’d learned from her missteps, prepared to reintroduce herself to the masses in a major way – Well, I’m not one to discredit the absolutely devastating effects of life-threatening diseases, but it seems we might’ve given her far too big a benefit of the doubt, as this record is once-again a heaping pile of filth no amount of sympathy could wash clean.

Christianity – The Industry’s Cheapest Crutch

At face value, I’m generally not the type of person you’d want to consult for an opinion on faith-based rhetoric in music, as I’m pretty firm in my beliefs as an Athiest that anything you can’t explain through science has no right being pushed in popular media, but I’m not someone who is without heart; I can certainly see the value in religious teachings for shaping people into more caring beings – something that’s not always reflected in the actions of the faithful – & I find the musical compositions of Contemporary Christian powerhouse Hillsong UNITED or the latest Mumford & Sons offerings to be especially well-produced pieces of sonic material, but by & large the concept of Christianity is abused as a tool to get into mainstream audiences’ hearts, preying on their beliefs to garner widespread acceptance even when the underlying music is subpar – Hot off the life-altering circumstances of her crippling disease, Avril Lavigne leans heavily into religious iconography for her lead single “Head Above Water,” indulging in the tried & true practice of utilizing sweeping soundscapes with slow, methodical symphonic instrumentation to convince her listeners she & they are having a spiritual experience that’s larger than life, injecting a few phrases about asking her ‘god’ for help to remain true to herself, pulling through her most turbulent times with the aid of a higher power; It’s weak, uninspired & totally panders to those of a faith-based background, relying on their cultural proclivities to give this song a more spectacular presence than it truly deserves – But this isn’t the only number to shamelessly prey on the pious listener, as “It Was In Me” delivers yet-another recreation of this anachronistic Pop aesthetic, calling upon downtempo power drums, strings & nondescript lyrical narratives to rekindle the sort of grandiose soundscapes you’d find in early-noughties era Pop- & Soft-Rock arrangements, robbing her listeners of the melodic progression they deserved from such an aging artist by rehashing trends of yesteryear that’ve already had their day – Maybe I’m just being too critical, but this is nowhere near the ‘reinvention’ I was expecting when Head Above Water was announced; It’s neither entertaining nor original & it just rubs me the wrong way.

Academic Attitude Makes A Comeback

With my misgivings about Avril Lavigne’s Head Above Water laid out in earnest for all too see, it’s actually quite funny that the only song with any sort of personality or character whatsoever is “Dumb Blonde,” a track that turns back time to the late-noughties schoolyard-anthem style we adored back when Gwen Stefani first hit us with “Hollaback Girl,” especially considering it features my least-favourite contemporary artist of all time Nicki Minaj. While it’s production values are pretty barebones throughout, with awkward tonal imbalances between the high-frequency & low-frequency levels rendering the spritely percussion wimpy as all hell, the actual composition of the song is nothing short of spectacular, presenting listeners with a fiery fusion of staccato marching band drum cadences alongside flirty-but-empowered Riot Grrrl Punk-adjacent energy in the best of ways, culminating in an exhilarating hype-song that makes you want to strap on a pair of Chucks & black your eyes before unpotting the hydrangeas in your stuffy neighbour’s yard & throwing them into the street, all the while throwing up a big middle finger to ‘the man’ & shouting obscenities at the policemen who come to restrain your drunken rage – It’s a fierce number with the best vocal melodies of the entire album, supported by abrasive guitar lines that get your blood pumping, sarcastic anthem choruses that put you right back in the shoes of your reckless 16-year old body & clear influences from Charli XCX that make you proud of the anti-discriminatory progress we’ve made in the gender-equality discussion of recent years – It’s just a shame this is but a drop in the bucket when it comes to the wasted talent expressed across Head Above Water’s incohesive runtime.

It’s Hard To Reinvent The Genre Wheel These Days

Moments of artistic levity aside, if you had any question whether Avril Lavigne was putting her all into this record or if she was simply going through the motions to produce another directionless album designed to pique the interests of as wide an audience as possible, you need look no further than Head Above Water’s second promotional single “Tell Me It’s Over,” a tune which virtually encompasses all of the poor choices you’ll encounter when scrubbing through this album – This track is the perfect embodiment of just how far Lavigne’s grasp of reality has fallen over the years. It’s comprised of a peculiar fusion of Bluesy Doo-Wop instrumentation akin to Kelsea Ballerini’s “I Hate Love Songs” or Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color” & Trap instrumentation that she for some reason determined was an appropriate blending of styles, dragging down the more expressive brassy horns & floating chord progressions of the classic aesthetic with an unnecessary attempt at appealing to modern trends. Not only is the percussion mixed incorrectly & the general fidelity of the tune lacking in polish, her vocals are absolutely insincere in both story design & melody, sung in a half-heartedly soulful way that have no passion behind them whatsoever, resulting in an arrangement that feels more like an unfinished sonic experiment than a musical style she really believes in; Contrast this with the works of Charlie Puth who makes you believe he truly cares about & was raised on Funk techniques or the highly-accurate nineties-era Freestyle machinations of Bruno Mars & you’ll start to see what I mean by there just being no sense of authenticity in what Lavigne is trying to achieve here, cheapening the effect of the album s a whole – When all is said & done, I really believe Lavigne’s battle with Lyme disease & seeming struggle with mental health were the only reasons anyone gave a damn about Head Above Water in the months leading up to its release, ‘cause now that it’s here I can’t find any reason to continue believing she’s actually matured from the self-centered artist she was way back on The Best Damn Thing, which is an absolute shame considering I genuinely enjoyed her gimmicky Pop Punk tunes back in my adolescence. I guess old habits really do die hard, eh?

3. Official (22)

4. Audio (111)

5. Live (155)

6. Featuring Remixes (127)

7. Albums (31)

8. News (47)

9. Covers (380)

11. Similar Artists (13)

12. Artist Info

About

Avril Ramona Lavigne (/ˈævrɪl ləˈviːn/; French: [avʁil laviɲ]; born September 27, 1984) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actress. By the age of 15, she had appeared on stage with Shania Twain and by 16, she had signed a two-album recording contract with Arista Records worth more than $2 million.
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Born

    1984-09-27

Active

    1999–present

Label

  • Arista
  • RCA
  • Epic
  • BMG
  • Avril Lavigne Music