Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
Lavigne - Under My Skin
I just spent the past couple of weeks being forced to listen to this CD (antiGIRL seems to love Avril--at least she has good taste in men!) and I felt I needed to chime in on it. The title is apt, as this CD has gotten under my skin, just not a good way. The hype surrounding it hasn’t help either. In fact, it made it that much worst, because without the hype Avril might have more legitimacy.
Instead of a typical review, I thought it might be instructive to look at some of the reasons Avril seems to rub people the wrong way. I think I can sum up the biggest problem in two non-words: “Sk8tr Boi”. This inane song was the first glimpse at Avril that most of us had and while she was being portrayed as the “anti-Britney” and “anti-Pop” heroine, this song gave the opposite impression; it had “teeny-bopper” written all over it. The problem was only compounded by her image-makers; the rebel girl, the t-shirt and tie look came across at best as contrived and at worst a lame marketing gimmick. To add injury to insult, Avril somehow was labeled as punk—something that she definitely has never been.
To the average teeny-bopper that Arista targeted for Avril, these things are not a big problem, they are actually selling points--packaged “safe” rebellion that wouldn’t scare away soccer moms. But for the more mature music fans, Avril was seen with distaste which quickly morphed into hatred as “Sk8tr Boi” played nonstop on the radio and we were inundated with Britney like hype and marketing for the “anti-Britney”.
Why such visceral hatred? Was it the music? Was it the image? Was it the hype? I think it had to do more with the last two then the first one. Leaving her insipid lyrics aside, musically Avril is pretty much a young Alanis clone. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your taste. Derivative artists tend to stir automatic animosity these days, so Avril, because her voice sounds similar to Alanis, had one strike automatically against her. But the big problem wasn’t so much the sound, but the content. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression and “Sk8tr Boi” definitely made a bad impression on a lot of people. At other times, Avril does an apt job at carrying a tune. She’s not horrible or a hack in the sense that Missy Elliot is, but her music is anything but groundbreaking. We’ve seen it all before and here we have it packaged as a teen anti-pop rebel, when if you really break it down, Avril lands in the mass market pop-rock category.
We can excuse her silly quotes--or misquotes--because let’s face it, she’s young and might not know any better. What can’t be excused is the insistence that Avril is an original and that’s at the heart of the almost automatic hatred of her. She was marketed as the anti-Britney, but she really was Britney just in a slightly different mold. Her teeny-bopper fans might disagree with that but most will see it for what it is. Avril is as much a creation of her marketers as Britney. Just because it isn’t sold as teen sex pop, doesn’t make it any less contrived and what stuck in most people’s throats was the lame attempt to label Avril as punk. If anything, that was the nail in the coffin for her.
But all that aside, her fans will continue to claimer for her music and try and be her, until like the boybands, they outgrow her and move on to more original artists (or the next trend). Meanwhile, Avril may claimer for legitimacy, and some in the music press are latching on to her new supposed maturity, but at the end of the day, Avril is what she is. She may grow into a more respected artist down the line but with this CD, all we really get is another album by a less mature Alanis clone. The songs aren’t bad, hell they are the best that Arista’s money could buy, but they aren’t that great either and it’s doubtful that they will withstand the test of time. But who knows? Avril isn’t going anywhere and she may just live up to the part of her hype that tries to pass her off as a legitimate rocker, it just didn’t happen with this CD.