Yes I get it. I understand your hate. If you weren’t a pubescent in 2002 or the intervening years since it is highly unlikely that you will get over your dislike for Ms. Lavigne’s inoffensive, bubblegum pop that invaded the radio of the early Aughts. Even if you were a fan, Avril is still a dark phase for many in their arduous journey toward real musical taste. The scars run especially deep if you remember how in the beginning her management shamelessly marketed her as the anti-Britney alternative/pop artiste to a special demographic of “disconnected youth,” mostly comprised of tween and teen girls, their parents, and their dates at school dances.
To Avril’s credit though, she does co-write all of her songs, (whatever gray area that connotes I couldn’t guess) and does sing them to some level of competence. And you can’t argue with her huge success, or her continued appeal over the decade, whether the listener is a twelve-year-old girl experiencing the first awkward realities of adolescence, or a twenty-year-old guy, drunkenly eating cold Mac and Cheese alone in his apartment while sobbing to the “Nobody’s Home” video… I’m just saying… Don’t you dare judge me.
At any rate, I appreciate her in a very specific context. I don’t particularly love her music but she does make me nostalgic for a time when I did love the idea of what I thought her music and image embodied, namely the Oh-So-Special but Slightly Damaged yet Still Precious, Heteronormative, Middle-to-Upper Class, Teenage Girls that so often occupied my thoughts. It’s not hard to imagine why I connected with it. After all, Avril may be repping the ladies’ perspective, but the subject she’s singing to in almost of all hit songs is me, or rather us, the Oh-So-Special but Slightly Damaged yet still Precious, Heteronormative, (Barely) Middle-to-Upper Class, Teenage Boys. Before I grew to better understand the complexities of relationships, before I had to navigate bizarre concepts like socially conditioned gender roles, or embedded linguistic structures of ownership and exchange, or, you know, actually being in a relationship, Avril was there with just a few, simple guidelines that outlined what the ladies wanted.
So friends, I beg you all to consider that somewhere among all the catchy choruses and hilarious Canadian pronunciation is some reliable relationship advice for any person, at any age, in any kind of groovy loving arrangement you’ve all worked out for yourselves, such as:
Be yourself (“Complicated,” but basically all her songs)
I mean—duh. We shouldn’t act like assholes for the benefit of others, especially not with our significant somebody. Genuine is both endearing and sexy. I mean no Britney come-on could possibly top the innuendo packed within the desperate frustration of “TAKE OFF all your preppy clothes.”
Never let silly differences get in the way (“Sk8er Boi”)
I don’t even have to explain this one. Just don’t give up on something that could be great for petty reasons. Karma, my friends, karma, “He wasn’t good enough for her, now he’s a superstar, sa-lamming on his guitar, does your pretty face see what he’s wer-e-orth?”
Fight for what you want (“Girlfriend”)
Too often we’re discouraged from expressing our feelings to someone else because of the fear of rejection. Avril makes a strong, and sickeningly catchy case here for approaching our crushes with confidence. Yes, she may come across as the “other woman” here, but it’s obvious that the relationship between the subject and his current girlfriend has completely broken down at this point anyway. Either that or it’s all in Avril’s head, in which case I must supply this caveat: Fight for what you want… until it gets creepy or illegal.
Wait until you’re ready (“Don’t Tell Me”)
…Or your partner-in-crime is. This rule applies to all degrees of intimate contact from a goodnight kiss to full-on sex to crazy Roman-style orgies. Otherwise the consequences can be pretty brutal. Avril effectively puts off one such over-eager gentleman caller simply with forceful and direct language: “Get out of my head, get off of my bed, yeah that’s what I said.” Yes she got more sexed up in her later albums, but so did Britney and Xtina, and compared to them, even Best Damn Thing-era Avril is practically a saint.
When it’s over, deal with it (“My Happy Ending” and many, many others)
Breakups suck, but when they happen we must deal with them. Follow in Avril’s shows and write a cynical power-ballad if need be. I mean the woman has an entire “post-divorce” album so she knows all about the process. Try to resolve as many bad feelings as possible, and then, on to the next one…
Enjoy life with some good ol’ fashioned reckless abandon (“What The Hell”)
Because being single for a while is often necessary, especially for anyone still developing their sense of self. And, we all need to go wild at some point damnit. Avril certainly did. Come on, Brody Jenner after Deryck Whibley? Really? She’s so dedicated to her own message that she hooked up with one of the few people in the world wilder than a former drug using punk-band frontman.
So there it is, a comprehensive list. And I don’t even care if I’ve lost you by this point. Once this catches on, I’ll be a national hero in Canada.