Pop rock, 2002
Punk my ass. Whatever Avril Lavigne is categorizing her music nowadays (I’m too tired to scan through the pages of Teen Beat to check), her music is pretty much south side of Blink 182. In short, sanitized music for teens who have graduated from boy bands to pretty safe “rock” acts like The Calling. Avril Lavigne makes music for teenage girls who find Michelle Branch too sweet and Vanessa Carlton too safe. Maybe one day they will graduate to Alanis Morissette, or is she too old and unpretty for the likes of these teenaged “punk” fans?
In fact, I am hard pressed to call the poppish wailings of I’m With You and Complicated “punk”. If she’s punk, I’m Ozzy Osborne. The tracks here are standard well-crafted radio-friendly tunes, with Ms Lavigne’s vocals taking on Alanis Morissette’s wailing techniques at most choruses. Sure, her music is pretty listenable – I like Complicated and the broody riffs in Losing Grip, while Anything But Ordinary and Sk8ter Boi are okay too. But my favorite is Nobody’s Fool, where the song and lyrics resemble something closest to maturity in the entire album.
Indeed, the lyrics in the songs are the weakest element in this album. Sure, Avril Lavigne is – what? 16? 17? But her clumsy, clunky teenage-girl lyrics are painful to listen to, especially on Sk8ter Boi, where teenager groupie mentality and anti-establishment collide in a painful juvenile mishmash of awful verbosity. “She is a girl, he is a boy, can I make it any more obvious?” she screeches, and I wish someone drags her to finish her English classes. Sure, she co-writes her songs, but then again, so can Britney Spears. Just because you can write things like “I can’t be strong! But I will be strong!” does not mean that you should. If Ms Lavigne and her management want to establish her as the anti-Britney, she should grow up a little and get some maturity in her songwriting first.
Avril Lavigne can shriek with the best of Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and other teen acts marketed as artists more serious, hard, and capable than they actually are. Underneath her hard, supposedly punk facade, she’s as tame as they come.