The Curious Case of Avril Lavigne

Trends and fads come in full circle, people always say that. It's cool I guess, things like backpacks, skateboards, boybands (albeit much, much younger now) vinyl and according to my co-editor 'loving your family'. But there are some things that have reoccurred, that should always stay dead. Peplos or for a more updated namesake, peplum, which was on-trend in 500BC and typical attire for women in ancient Greece is cool again. Most unfortunate. 

Then there is Avril Lavigne. 

My hatred for peplum has always been consistent but I'm pretty lenient when it comes to Avril Lavigne. I mean I bought her first album Let Go with math tuition money and all so it must constitute that at one point when I was incapable of making good choices in life and somehow this angsty teen made her way to my life choices. When in the 00s she was the beacon of all teenagers trying to express their feelings, she is no longer the loudspeaker of that generation. 

When Avril Lavigne burst into the scene in 2002 with 'Complicated', she was a refreshing figure from all the excessive hair gel, super choreography, make-up and styled hair, multiple costume changes that was rampant in the mainstream music scene at that time. Lavigne was the epitome of the blossoming anti-Britney and Christina movement, she was the princess of pop punk. Cargo pants, a singlet (and black bra strap), studded belt, Chucks, and occasional ironic loose striped tie around the neck. 'So nonchalant' we all thought, so real, so unpretentious. 

'Complicated' itself was an immediate hit. Lavigne said about 'Complicated': "People sometimes bother me how they're not real and how they're just, like, putting on a face and being two-faced." Those words resonated to me then, because I too felt that way and I began to embrace everything this Franco-Canadian lady sang. 

But as always, things changed and once again my tastes were reshaped by social experiences. When in 2002, I was sneaking off during math tutition (sorry Mr Rizal) to go to Sembawang Music to get a bunch of forgettable records, 2003 saw me being introduced to new music and genres that have pretty much remained as the mainstay of my current musical preferences. Avril Lavigne left as soon as she came into my life. 

"Tastes," wrote the poet Paul Valery, "are composed of a thousand distastes." Everyone has a taste biography, a narrative of shifting preferences: I once liked Avril Lavigne but now no longer listen to her music. 

2007: I was a uni student abroad being liberalised by everything a new country had to offer. Still, upon seeing that Avril Lavigne had a new video called 'Girlfriend' out, I clicked on it for old time's sake. I was left amused, perplexed, and crestfallen. 

In 'Girlfriend', Lavigne plays multiple roles - one of a prissy Catholic schoolgirl type, one as the anti-prep pretty goth 'alt' types, and one as her blonde self. While her cargo pants and studded belt don't make an appearance, here was Avril Lavigne playing a parody of her 2002 self. Instead of the against-the-world attitude she embodied in the early 2000s, she was now confident and sassy, even singing 'I'm the motherf*cking princess'. It was strange seeing Avril Lavigne of 'Complicated' fame this way. Her album The Best Damn Thing and it's an entirety was no better. Years later with her subsequent releases I began to realise that Avril Lavigne is a time capsule of the 00's pop punk.

When most artists from that era gradually progressed, took hiatuses, or even disbanded, Lavigne stuck around. And while she no longer spoke for our generation, she would probably be relevant to a new generation of teenagers going through the usual drama of being a teenager. When we have long moved on, Avril has remained the same. Which is pretty apt, considering her new album is titled Here's To Never Growing Up. Whether she is a self-aware ironist trolling us with her music or just a girl having fun, here is Avril sassing us in Q Magazine:

"I'm comfortable in my own skin and that's what counts. And anyway, if you do hate me, you're the loser not me".

Avril Lavigne, 15 February, Singapore Indoor Stadium