Avril Lavigne: Let Go 10th anniversary

It’s been a decade since a then 17-year-old Avril Lavigne released her debut album Let Go (June 4, 2002).

Let Go was certified six times platinum in the US and has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. The album really stands up ten years after its release, and it’s rightly her highest selling album to date.

Her three albums after Let Go have been disappointing. For the most part, this later music is dumbed down, lyrically simplified, and paradoxically less mature than the songs on the first album, which had a richness and variety of expression. Here’s a look at the tracks that comprised Let Go, before fashion and perfume lines distracted from the music.

Of course, “Complicated” and, to a lesser degree, “Sk8er Boi” were the standout songs. At its core, “Complicated” is an attack on hypocrisy and dishonesty in how one presents oneself to the world. “Sk8er Boi” is a fun yet authentic story-song about music, with a surprise twist at the end when we learn how the narrator fits into the story.

The slower, more dramatic songs “I’m With You,” “Tomorrow,” and “Too Much To Ask” provide a nice balance to the energy of a song like “Sk8er Boi.”

“Anything But Ordinary” and the semi-autobiographical “My World” are about being exceptional, seeking something more for yourself, and wanting to escape small town ennui. “Anything But Ordinary” also works as a personal artistic statement – In 2002 and 2003, Avril Lavigne was different; there was no one else like her on the scene.

Including “Nobody’s Fool” was slightly risky – it doesn’t sound like any other song on the album. The half-speaking half-singing during the verses works brilliantly, though. It’s like a teen girl Linkin Park song.

“Things I’ll Never Say” is strong enough to have been a single. It’s definitely for a young audience — it’s a nice, very catchy middle school anthem.

The least effective songs were the angrier, mid-teen angst tracks “Losing Grip” and “Unwanted,” the latter of which also hints thematically at the struggle of staying true to oneself in the face of record label image issues.

Unfortunately, the second album headed in this gothic, angsty direction, while the third and fourth albums alternate between upbeat yet ultimately insubstantial songs like “Girlfriend” and ballads that are boring and sound too similar to one another (“When You’re Gone,” “Keep Holding On,” “Innocence”).

2 Comments

Filed under Music Discourse

2 Responses to Avril Lavigne: Let Go 10th anniversary

  1. “Let Go” is the best album, as in most consistent across the board, agreed. But do I just want to hear “The Clash,” the first album by The Clash. No I am open to other colors from the broad palette of Avril Lavigne, the best artist/singer of the last 10 years. There are bits of sheer brilliance on Av’s follow-ups that thrill me no end in sight and sound. Her most mature song is not on LG, but her second CD, “Under My Skin: “Nobody’s Home.” That song cuts the deepest and still resonates. “He Wasn’t” from UMS as well is like ringing a bell! From her third CD “The Best Damn Thing,” “Girlfriend” is Avril’s biggest hit ever, her hottest shit, her catchiest batch of mad magic. “What The Hell” from her latest features some of her best vocal pyro. BTW lyrically simplified does not necessarily mean dumbed down. There can be a profound wealth of richness in pure essence. There is still simply no one at all quite like Avril, the best singer out there.

    • aftertheshow

      Thanks so much for your comment! I agree – she has had some great songs post-Let Go, which I didn’t mention in this post. “My Happy Ending” and “Don’t Tell Me” are really great, as are “Nobody’s Home” and “He Wasn’t.” A song like “Slipped Away” is what I was thinking with simple lyrics without much richness. A song like “Slipped Away” probably wouldn’t have made it onto Let Go because it’s pretty weak (I know it has a sentimental/emotional context, but it’s just not that good).