I first became aware of Avril Lavigne when I saw the video for her song "Complicated," which begins with her and bored friends deciding to trash the mall, and then actually doing that while the song plays. Hey, kids, vandalism is cool! The song has been played on the radio constantly since then, and while the tune is pretty much generic pop (catchy enough, but nothing to write home about), the lyrics are really stupid. As far as I can tell, she's telling some guy not to act differently when he's in public than in private. Which is okay as far as it goes, but the line "take off all your preppy clothes" suggests that what she objects to is his trying to fit into a different clique from the one she's in. It's disappointing that, even in Canada, there's apparently no way to get away from these stupid subcultures. And Avril's early publicity had her insisting that she considered herself a punk, even though her music is more like Alanis Morissette than the Sex Pistols. And I'm not one of those people who insists that dabbling in a particular musical style always has to be authentic. Hey, most of my favorite bands are pop/rock acts that occasionally noodle in other genres. I don't think the Magnetic Fields' "Punk Rock Love" is any more punk than "Complicated," but I do think Stephin Merritt was in on the joke, and I doubt Avril was. Besides, who really WANTS to be a punk? Or a hippie, gangsta, bobby-soxer, indie kid, metal-head, hipster, or goth, for that matter? These subcultures might have produced some valuable pop culture (some more than others), but they pretty much always end up simply being mindless aping of a certain style. Besides, aren't authentic punks supposed to be violent? I guess that's why she was trashing the mall.
I believe Avril's second hit was "Sk8er Boi," which you can tell from the name is even dumber than her first one. What narrative there is concerns a skateboarding "punk" kid who has an unrequited crush on a popular girl, and she later goes on to regret not requiting when he becomes a famous musician. Avril insists that the moral is that she should have tried to see below the surface, but I really don't see how that relates. I mean, he didn't get famous because of his personality, did he? No, he was probably just a commodity that some record label thought they could sell to the kids. Sort of like Avril herself, I suppose. Maybe the song is autobiographical with the genders switched, except for the fact that she's admitted she can't actually skate. (Big surprise there, huh?) Actually, I'm sure no one else remembers this, but I think the song was optioned for a movie a few years back. It was never made, but Avril probably got some money for it, so it worked out best for everyone involved.
Fortunately, it seems that Avril has largely gotten away from the obnoxious punk kid shtick, maybe because it doesn't really work for someone in their mid-twenties to concentrate on high-school-specific topics. Well, unless you're Barenaked Ladies, I guess, but they were generally less serious about it. And now Avril is in some cell phone commercial, where she looks really high. In fact, that's how she looks in quite a few pictures, quite possibly because she is.
It does look like she's gotten her teeth whitened, though, because I remember them looking really bad in older pictures.