Let Go, Avril Lavigne
The skater movement is nothing new. Heck, it's probably been around for almost ten years now. Punk bands like blink-182 and Sum 41 were responsible for bringing it into the mainstream. But, as far back as I can remember, there haven't been many women skaters that have broken through the glass ceiling. That is, until Avril Lavigne released the first single off her debut CD, "Complicated."
With her eyeliner-rimmed eyes and tie-wearing ways, she was the anti-Britney people were searching for. In her music video, Avril skateboarded, harassed mall security, and hung out with the boys. There was no hip shaking, cleavage touching, or gyrating back-up dancers. She had an earnest voice that shrieked about being a poser, and how that is just so wrong. Just be yourself! Complicated went on to become a breakout hit, and put Avril on the map.
Four months ago, people were heard saying, "Avril what?" She started getting airplay on Canadian radio stations and Much Music. Eventually, she crossed the border to MTV. When Let Go was released, it went straight to the Billboard Top Ten, where it currently sits at number eight (peaking at number three or four, but don't quote me on that). Not bad for a seventeen year old girl from Napanee, Ontario, population 5,000. Now everyone knows who Avril Lavigne is. But she's keeping it real, yo.
Listening to Let Go brought back fond memories of my high school days, when Alanis Morissette re-invented herself and released a little album called Jagged Little Pil. I was obsessed with it. I listened to it daily, on my way to school and on my way back. I listened to it in class when I was supposed to be brushing up on my French articles. I listened to it at night before going to sleep. I could relate to the songs - as an awkward teen, I was the epitome of teen angst (in retrospect, I was really no different than most teens going through puberty). In Let Go, Avril Lavigne sings about rejection, betrayal, alienation, crushes, loneliness, and uncertainty. In a nutshell, teen angst personified.
There are few blatant differences between Alanis and Avril. But it's those differences that made Jagged Little Pill one of the best albums of its year, while Let Go would probably fall somewhere in the bottom thirty. Alanis, who was a couple of years older than Avril when she penned Jagged Little Pill, wrote her songs with a sure hand. It had the perfect mix of ambiguous lyrics ("Ironic" comes to mind, since most of those instances aren't actual irony), guitar melodies, and smart observations about life, love, and everything in between. Throw in some catchy tunes, and you've got a great CD. With Let Go, Avril has the guitar melodies, but everything else is up to interpretation.
Described as a "skater punk, a dynamic spirit, a true wild child" on her website, Avril does try to incorporate a lot of her personality in her songs. In "Mobile," she talks about being on the road. In My World, she talks about growing up in some small town named Napanee, in case anyone forgot. And in Nobody's Fool, she raps! It's not as scary as it sounds. Well, at least she deserves an A+ for effort.
Let Go begins strongly, but as it progresses it is evident that they decided to cram all the sucky songs in at the end. The fact that there are only 14 songs on the CD, one of which is a re-mix of "Complicated" (and sounds exactly the same as the original, if you ask me), signals that they may have had to put in everything they had in order to make a full CD. Avril screams through half of them with a hearty twang, which is strong evidence that she would make a great country singer, although all her skater friends would probably make fun of her about that. After listening to her CD five times in a row, her voice became somewhat annoying. She can sing, but her voice is a little thin, having a nails-on-chalkboard effect for me when she belts out those high notes.
Losing Grip, the first track of the CD, is Avril's favourite song and is about "an ex-boy [who] didn't give [her] what [she] needed emotionally." The track is one of the better ones, and with lyrics like "Why should I care / You weren't there when I was scared / I was so alone" you can feel her angst. Sk8er Boi, the second single, is my personal favourite. It's a fun track with a catchy chorus. I'm With You reminded me of a Vanessa Carlton song. It's slow, and with lyrics like, "It's a damn cold night / Trying to figure out this life…won't you take me home?" you have to wonder which WB teen drama will play it first.
After this, things to go downhill. Mobile has one of the stupidest choruses I have ever heard. "Everything's changing / When I turn around / All out of my control / I'm a mobile," Avril sings. Exactly what she means by mobile is beyond me. I'm used to "mobile" as an adjective, not a noun. [A mobile can be used as a noun; it's an object that depicts movement - Michelle]. Tomorrow is another track soon to be heard on "Dawson's Creek." Anything But Ordinary is likable but in an angry-song type of way. In the chorus, Avril spouts off some more of her wise observations about life: "Is it enough to love / Is it enough to breathe (if you wanna live, well, yeah) / Somebody ripped my heart out and left me here to bleed." She ends with, "I'd rather be anything but ordinary please." The "please" part really detracts from her rebel/wild child ways, if you ask me.
Avril Lavigne's debut is stronger than most, but many will find that, besides a couple of songs, the CD is not that great. She is obviously talented, but her voice is better suited for country, and the song-writing part needs a little work. She shows promise, and with time and experience she might be able to join the ranks of Alanis Morisette. But for now, it's better to "let go" of her CD (sorry, couldn't help myself) and dig up your old copy of Jagged Little Pill. ¤ C.Ho.
LET GO: (out of 5)