Avril Lavigne: Rising Star or Rising Asshole?
Written by Jessica Zietz
Avril Lavigne. Just seeing the name sends a trickle of pure disgust down my spine. Why, you ask? I mean, her songs are so deep! Her clothes are so cute! She doesn't care what anyone thinks of her! She's like, totally punk rawk! Well, my little brainwashed ones, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree. Let's see...where shall we start?
Avril Lavigne is a pop singer feeding off of the new punk trend. Apparently, she (along with all her fans) missed the bulletin notifying those of us whose minds aren't quite as impressionable that dressing in every article of clothing ever put out by Hot Topic does not make you punk. Clothing should not define a musician's style. Rather (and here's a real challenging idea for you), their MUSIC should. Yet, the brainless youth of America continues to eat it up, as they do with anything and everything they're spoon-fed by the media, top 40 radio, and the sadistic, brainwashing, greedy trend whores better known as MTV executives.
In a recent magazine article, Avril proclaimed, "I don't write 'Oh-baby-baby' songs. I'm a skater punk who writes guitar driven rock." Yet one listen of the record proves otherwise. It is an album of mostly slower, pop-rock tunes that would have felt at home on Mandy Moore's latest record. Avril can't seem to understand that, as much as she tries to give off a different image with what she wears, she is a POP singer. Uh-oh, here comes the retort from angry Avril worshippers.
"She's not pop! She's rock! And she writes songs and plays guitar!"
Calm yourselves, kiddies. This attack has only just begun. Stay with me as I dissect Avril's music, image, fakeness, and hypocrisy.
Annoyance #One: Avril the Songwriter
In J-14's August issue, Avril explained her songwriting process. "Once I sit down with the guitar, I write about what I'm feeling that day." However, in the July 1st edition of Time Magazine, Ms. Lavigne admitted, "I sit down with a guitar player usually."
A guitar player. As in someone who is not her playing the guitar. Which is it, Avril? Furthermore, a look at the songwriting credits on her CD will reveal that each song was cowritten with a multitude of professional songwriters. Anyone can spit out a couple rhyming sentences, maybe even a melody here or there, when they're being guided by experts. (Britney Spears did it- is it necessary for me to say much more?) One can't help but wonder just how much of those songs was written by Avril. Yet, in that same J-14 article, she claimed, "I wrote all those songs when I was sixteen." The credits tell otherwise, and somehow I'm not buying the Avril-did-it-all version of the story.
Don't get too angry just yet. There's nothing wrong with receiving some help writing songs. However, Avril is being touted as some guitar-playing, songwriting prodigy when, in reality, she's not the only force behind those tracks. But that's what sells, so I guess that makes it alright to lie, exaggerate, and present yourself as some virtuoso.
Annoyance #Two: Avril the Guitar Player
It's pretty impossible to read an article on Avril Lavigne that doesn't mention Michelle Branch. In fact, a recent article in YM stated, "She rocks harder on the guitar than Michelle Branch." Remember that trickle of disgust flowing down my spine? There it is again. You see, Michelle Branch got her big break when she opened up for Hanson- just her, a guitar, and some undeniable raw talent. When performing, be it for TV, a live concert, a radio show, whatever- she always plays her guitar.
That's not the case with Lavigne. In numerous pictures of the singer (and I stress singer, not musician) performing, as well as the television appearances I've seen, Avril merely sings. In her acoustic sessions with AOL, she sang while a member of her band strummed along on acoustic guitar. Any half-decent musician who constantly states that she plays guitar would have proven herself then and there. A CDNow.com article reviewing a recent Avril performance mentioned that she strapped on the guitar for one song, claiming, "I suck." If someone like Britney Spears or Mandy Moore, who call themselves singers/entertainers and not musicians, played guitar for one song during a concert, I'd be impressed. Yet Avril constantly talks about how she plays guitar...why wouldn't she play it live? There's simply no excuse. And playing the few chords that she does know does not constitute a true musician. Furthermore, a look at the album credits show that Avril played guitar for only ONE song. Now that's a real guitar player.
Annoyance #Three: Avril the Lyricist
"I never spend less than an hour
Washin' my hair in the shower
It always takes five hours to make it straight
So I'll braid it in a zillion braids
Though it may take a friggin' day
There's nothin' else better to do anyway."
- "My World"
"He was a boy, she was a girl
Can I make it any more obvious?"
Well, you sure as hell couldn't make it any more juvenile.
"He's just a boy, and I'm just a girl
Can I make it anymore obvious?
We are in love, haven't you heard,
how we rock each other's world?
I'm with the sk8er boi, I said see you later boy
I'll be backstage after the show
I'll be at the studio singing the song we wrote
About a girl you used to know."
- "Sk8er Boi"
First of all, the fact that it's spelled like that is enough to make me vomit all over myself. I thought no one over the age of thirteen wrote a sentence that looked like, "U R 2 Kewl 2 B 4 GOT N." Second, the lyrics are flat out ridiculous. Boy meets girl, girl is too good for boy, boy becomes big star, girl regrets it, boy meets Avril, boy and Avril live happily ever after. My imaginary nine year old sister could have penned better lyrics.
"Went back home again
This sucks, gotta pack up and leave again
Say goodbye to all my friends
Can't say when I'll be there again
Its time now
I turn around
Turn my back on everything"
Well, cry her a fucking river. Avril, darling, you chose that lifestyle. You chose to drop out of high school, move to LA, and pursue your career. Deal with the consequences.
"I'm feeling nervous
Trying to be so perfect
Cause I know you're worth it
You're worth it
La da da da La da da da"
- "Things I'll Never Say"
No "Oh baby baby" songs? There's nothing wrong with a love song or two. Yet she disses them every chance she gets...and goes and sings lines that are just as mushy. For example, also found in "Things I'll Never Say":
"If I could say what I want to say
I’d say I want to blow you away
Be with you every night
Am I squeezing you too tight?
If I could say what I want to see
I want to see you go down
On one knee
Marry me today"
At least Britney never proposed marriage.
Oh, and here's a bright idea for Avril to prove how punk she is. Let's have her RAP in a song. Because, ya know, most punk bands always include a rap bit or two in their songs. Here's an excerpt from "Nobody's Fool," also known as Avril's audition for Cash Money Millionaires.
"I'm not the milk and Cheerios in your spoon,
It's not a simple here we go not so soon,
I might of fallen for that when I was 14
And a little more green."
That inconceivably ridiculous first line speaks for itself. The second makes no sense whatsoever, I've no qualms with the third, and the fourth...Avril, the writing is lacking. Perhaps you shouldn't have been so quick to drop out.
"If you're trying to turn me into someone else
It's easy to see I'm not down with that
I'm not nobody's fool."
Could've fooled me. (Yes, I crack myself up.)
Annoyance #4: Avril the Wannabe Punk Rocker
"When it is suggested that even then her tastes were kind of pop-oriented, her head snaps up as though she's been slapped. 'New country,' she says, as though pop music is somehow less cool than new country. Then again, it seems any music is better than pop music in Lavigne's eyes. Later, when it is mentioned that she seems poised for pop stardom, she is quick to correct. 'No, no, no. Rock stardom,' she says forcefully. 'I don't like using the term pop star because that's not my personality. My personality is like a rock star. I'm hardcore.'" (Taken from Nationalpost.com.)
Rock star? Hardcore? Anything but pop? Keep dreaming, Avril. Take one listen to that CD- it's pure pop with a tinge of rock here and there. A song doesn't need slick Neptunes production for it to be radio-friendly pop song that appeals to bubblegum music lovers. And the upbeat track "Naked" is undeniably, well, poppy.
And don't think I'm too evil. I can admit when a song of hers is good. In researching for this article, I downloaded them all. I think "Too Much To Ask" is a pretty good song and "Complicated" consistently gets stuck in my head. However, they're being sung by someone who's always claiming to be one thing, then singing music that's all the opposite. And isn't that what she vents about in "Complicated" anyway? Which leads me to...
Annoyance #5: Avril the Hypocrite
"You're trying to be cool/You look like a fool to me."
The single making Avril famous, "Complicated," is a song about someone who changes their looks and personality to impress other people. Yet, in the video, Avril and crew are trashing the mall and causing all kinds of problems. Avril the rebel even smashes her guitar at the end of the video. (What a shame, it was just like new, seeing as how she strums it maybe three times throughout the entire song.) She tries to come off as this too-cool-for-school bitch with an attitude while she whines about someone who's doing the same thing to her. There's a word for that. I believe it's called hypocrisy.
She's a constant contradiction. She skateboards in the video, poses for publicity shots with the board, tells YM magazine that she's good at it...Yet, in an interview with MTV, she discussed how the director of the "Complicated" video wanted her to skate in it. Ms. Tony Hawk protested, "No, dude, I suck!" Make up your mind, Avril.
Moreover, she recently told Elle Girl, "Today, I rejected some gorgeous publicity shots because they just didn't look like me. I won't wear skanky clothes that show off my booty, my belly, or boobs. I have a great body. I could be Britney. I could be better than Britney."
No one could be Britney. I'm not a huge fan of hers, but her popularity and success are mind-blowing. For Avril to arrogantly declare that she could do even better than one of the most successful teen pop artists ever is ludicrous (and a bit too cocky for my liking). And if she's so against posing in slutty clothes, why didn't she throw in some of that bitchy attitude she seems so proud of and refuse to wear the outfits to begin with? The story simply isn't adding up.
Annoyance #6: Avril the Packaged Product
Unless you're living in Tanzania, you've probably noticed that punk music is edging back into the mainstream. The demand for Britney and NSYNC is down and this means less money for the music execs who buy their Porsches and mansions with money made from teen stars. Time for a new plan. It amazes me that so few people see through this. Avril is dressed in Dickies, ties, studded jewelery, Chuck Taylors- most of which isn't usually worn by the pop fans. Furthermore, she's being hyped up as the songwriter/guitarist that I attacked earlier. She calls herself a skater punk, categorizes her music as rock and punk, poses in pictures with a skateboard...yet her music is anything but what such fashion would suggest. Being punk does not come from wearing the right thing. However the image is helping her to sell more records because it's what's popular now. One look through any teen magazine will reveal models dressed in clothing just like hers.
And let's not forget the fake tattoos she wears on her arms. Cause that's like, ya know, sooo totally hardcore. Let me go draw a big skull and crossbones on my arm so that I can be punk too. Please.
Yet another thing adding to her image that sells so well- upon visit to her official website, "Sk8er Boi," the only remotely faster rock song on the album, begins blaring. Obviously, they want the visitors to form an impression of Avril's music based on that song, when in reality, the rest of the album simply doesn't sound like that.
Avril Lavigne just seems fake, plain and simple. She tries to pull off this tormented, wounded puppy look in the "Complicated" video. She emphasizes her songwriting and guitar playing, yet had numerous songwriters work on her album, while the guitar is rarely strapped around her body when the music is live.
A member of an Anti-Avril community on Live Journal pointed out, "And if she takes all this time trying to label all of her music, she probably isn't what she says she is, cause she has to prove everything through her clothes. Your personality should come from the music you create, and if you are that pathetic to keep on classifying it, might as well forget it." Well done. I couldn't have said it better myself.