You guys, I don’t think Avril Lavigne knows what a healthy relationship is.
This morning, as I do every morning, I listened to the Lil Mama remix of Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend.” That song is hot fire, and anyone who says that it isn’t is NOT your friend. But then I did something I probably shouldn’t have done, and went down the rabbit hole a little further. Get it? Rabbit hole? Because Avril had that song on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack? Ah, you get it. Anyway, I decided to listen to all of Avril’s singles starting with “Complicated,” because I remember being an angsty teen and how much her lyrics spoke to me. I’ve gotta say, it’s a little disappointing how poorly it holds up.
Let’s start with “Complicated, probably the most innocuous of her singles.” In this song, Avril is mad at her friend/boyfriend because he acts like “somebody else, around everyone else.” You know, like grown ups do. I can’t tell you how many people at work have been surprised when they find out that I’m a comedian, because I don’t “act like one” at work. You mean I don’t show up drunk and complain about my ex-wife? Exactly! Because grown ups have recognized that you behave differently in certain situations than you do in others. I don’t act the same way around my 5 year old sister as I do around, well, anyone else because she’s a child.
“But Dan” you say, “she was only 17 when that song came out. She couldn’t possibly be expected to understand the nuances of adult interpersonal relationships yet!” And you’re right to say that. It shows empathy and understanding of the human condition. So congratulations, the disrespect of your outburst on my blog is circumvented by your respect of Avril’s young age when releasing that song. If I believed Avril didn’t understand healthy relationships just because of the lyrics to a song she wrote 15 years ago, I would be wrong. But as I said, I went down the rabbit hole. So get ready for even more proof that this girl is clueless.
There were two other singles from her debut album: “I’m With You,” and “Sk8r Boi.” I’ll get back to “Sk8r Boi” later. For now, let’s talk “I’m With You.” This song just feels unsafe. She’s talking about how alone she is on this dark, cold, and silent bridge. She’s asking if anyone is trying to find her and take her home on this damn cold night. But the problem is, the first person she sees, she abandons the idea of going home and asks this person to take her somewhere new. She doesn’t know who he is, but she’s with him (the line is “I don’t know who you are, but I . . . I’m with you.” So the basic message of this song is that if you’re lonely, you should shake things up by running off with the first person you meet. Again, first album, she was young, she could have had a strange idea of what relationships are supposed to be. Or maybe this is normal for her so far, she is Canadian after all. She married the guy who wrote “Hero” for the Spider-Man soundtrack, for Christ’s sake.
Avril’s second album “Under My Skin” had only one single to make the charts in the United States: “My Happy Ending.” In this song, Avril is lamenting a lost love, and for the most part it’s a fairly standard end of relationship type song. But there are a couple of stand out lines. In the beginning of the song she clearly doesn’t know why the break up is happening. “Was it something I did? Was it something you said?” But then later she fully blames the guy, accusing him of pretending to care, and making her feel like she was the only one. Relationships end, Avril. Sometimes no matter how much you care about someone, you just can’t make it work, especially when you’re 20 years old. It’s very possible that he cared, but things just didn’t work out. And that may be his fault, but it also could be because you say things like “you’ve got your dumb friends.” You don’t have to like all of his friends, but you could probably try harder not to insult them if you want this relationship to last. You also imply that his friends don’t actually know him, and that’s just silly. They’ve probably been around longer than you, and will continue to be now that you’re broken up.
Moving on to 2007, we have Avril’s first number one single, “Girlfriend.” Do I even need to explain this one? The entire song is telling a guy that his girlfriend is lame and that he should date her instead. In addition to just being a shitty thing to do, it demonstrates a lack of basic understanding that infidelity should never be sought out. In the video Avril is sabotaging a date the object of her affection is on, and it ends with her pushing him into a bathroom stall after his date leaves furiously. First of all, gross. Second, why would you want to date a guy who just bailed on a different girl mid date? I get there’s a certain thrill to competition, but do you really see a future there? And at this point, Avril was 23. Still young, but definitely an adult who should be recognizing that this isn’t how the world works.
I’ve got no beef with “When You’re Gone.” It’s sappy, overly emotional, and the imagery is pretty on the nose, but it’s not a bad song.
2011 saw the release of “Goodbye Lullaby” and its lead single “What the Hell.” This is a bad song. It is so bad. It starts out making Avril look like a bad person, circles around to making her seem fairly innocent but bad at problem solving, and goes right back to her being a bad person. The first line is “You say that I’m messing with your head, all because I was making out with your friend.” How sociopathic is that shit? Later in the song she says that he’s on his knees begging her to stay, so it sounds like she’s tried to break up with him and he just won’t go away, so we’re kind of back to her side. “This is a really poppy sounding song about her not being able to escape a stalker,” was my first thought. But then she says things about how she’s having too much fun to stop, and I’m conflicted and confused. Because she’s allowed to be a free spirit and sleep with whoever she wants. She says “so what if I go out on a million dates?” And I agree. Go on your dates, what the hell, indeed? But it’s the final line that really drives home that Avril is the instigator and a bad person here. “Yeah, I am messing with your head when I’m messing with you in bed.” First of all, that’s a pretty inappropriate line for a song on an album sponsored by a Disney movie. Second, STOP SLEEPING WITH HIM! If you want him to go away, if he’s too intense and cramping your “date whoever I want” style, stop fucking him! It’s that easy!
There haven’t been any full albums since then, but I feel like I’ve made my case. Avril has demonstrated through multiple singles that she doesn’t understand how relationships or breakups work. And that’s before we even get to the worst. Here’s the worst (ugh):
As promised, I’ll end with “Sk8r Boi.” Fuck this song. I’m sorry, that wasn’t very eloquent, let me try again. Fuck this song. Nope, that was just the same thing, I’ll try one more time. Fuck this song. Well I guess that’s just the way I feel, no getting around it. In this song, a guy and girl in high school who clearly have nothing in common except their mutual attraction don’t end up dating because (according to Avril) the girl’s friends don’t think the boy is good enough. World shaking info here, high school girls are kind of catty and bitchy. Of course the ballet dancer’s friends aren’t going to like the idea of her dating a punk rock skateboard kid. But clearly this popular high school girl should have ignored all of her friends to get to know and possibly date this guy based purely off the physical attraction. But since she didn’t, we’re all supposed to enjoy the fact that “5 years from now, she sits at home, feeding her baby, she’s all alone.” Fuck you, Avril. That is an awful thing to wish on someone for any reason, much less for turning down the boy that YOU ARE NOW DATING. Because that’s the next part, the girl sees the guy from high school that she had a crush on playing guitar on MTV. We’re expected to believe that she not only remembers him, but immediately calls her friends to say “remember that guy you told me I shouldn’t date because he wasn’t good enough? Crazy, but he’s on MTV now!” But when she calls up her friends, they already know. In fact, they all have tickets to see his show, because apparently in addition to being a single mom, this girl is also super far behind on pop culture and is just now finding out about him well after his tickets have gone on sale locally. Anyway, the final verse of this song is that the guy wrote a song about a girl he used to know, and Avril will be singing it. Have some self respect. Tell this guy that you’re not going to sing a super fucked up song about a girl he had a crush on 5 years ago. The implication, by the way, is that this is not that song. She says she’ll be in the studio, singing that song he wrote. So this isn’t that song, this is just Avril being really bitchy about a girl her boyfriend knew back in high school.
That’s all for now, I think I’ve said enough. Love and kisses!