Avril Ramona Lavigne is one of the most popular new pop punk singer/songwriters of recent years with eight hit singles and two world-wide number-one albums to her credit, and is well-known for her «skater punk» persona.
Born in Belleville, Ontario to conservative Franco-Ontarian Catholic parents, Lavigne grew up in Napanee singing country music and in a church choir and taught herself guitar. She was discovered by her first professional manager while singing country covers at a Chapters bookstore in Kingston, Ontario. By the age of sixteen, she was signed by then A&R rep Ken Krongard of Arista Records who invited his boss, Arista head, L. A. Reid, to hear her sing in a New York studio. She then completed work on her first album.
Let Go — career breakthrough
Apparently, early attempts to co-write songs for her failed to meet her approval, and she eventually moved to Los Angeles, California and co-wrote her album with Clif Magness and songwriting
team The Matrix, whose previous work included songs for Sheena Easton and Christina Aguilera. Her first album, Let Go, was released by Arista on June 4, 2002, and was certified «Quadruple Platinum» less than six months later by the Recording Industry Association of America. She was named «Best New Artist» at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards and at the 2003 Juno Awards, where she led all musicians with six nominations, winning four Junos. She also has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards but has not won any to date.
By December 2004, Let Go had sold fifteen million albums and reached the number one spot in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom. Let Go also peaked at number two in the United States.
It is sometimes claimed she is the youngest Canadian to ever sell a million copies in her homeland; however that record is held by Ottawa-born crooner Paul Anka. His single, «Diana», was recorded when he was only sixteen, and is still regarded as the fastest selling 45rpm single in history.
Let Go was the source of four hit singles, in various
«Complicated» went to number one on the U. S. adult charts and in Australia while reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100;
«Sk8er Boi» went top ten in the U. S. and Australia and number one in Canada;
«I’m with You» reached number one on the U. S. and world adult charts, and number four on the Billboard Hot 100;
«Losing Grip» reached number one in Canada, number ten in Taiwan, number twenty in Chile, and the top fifty on a composite European chart.
«Weird Al» Yankovic did a parody of «Complicated» on his Poodle Hat album called «A Complicated Song» — a sure sign of her impact on popular culture.
The media has often compared her to Alanis Morissette, though she has been criticized for not being as strong a lyricist as Morissette at the same age. She has also often been compared with singers like Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch, who emerged at about the same time and were popularly credited, with Lavigne, as part of a trend towards more earnestness and genuine creativity in an often vacuous and pre-fabricated teen pop music market.
While her marketing has been every bit as sophisticated as, for instance, that of Britney Spears and her competitors, a profile in the Washington Post found that in the flesh, her personality did not reflect the marketing, and instead found her, if anything, something of a wide-eyed innocent, citing the fact that she was intending to purchase her first Ramones CD. In another interview, she listed her current listening tastes as including Blink 182, Sum 41, and System of a Down. Lavigne is currently engaged to Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and hired a former member of that band Mark Spicoluk as a member of her backing band.
She describes her first album as a pop album with «a couple of rock songs on it», and has indicated a desire to write more rock-oriented songs in the future.
Under My Skin
Lavigne wrote most of her second album, Under My Skin, with Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk. She also co-wrote one track, «Nobody’s Home», with Ben Moody, formerly of Evanescence, and the rest with her former lead guitarist Evan Taubenfeld. Lavigne used three producers for Under My Skin: Butch Walker of Marvelous 3, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, and Don Gilmore, who has produced Good Charlotte and Linkin Park.
Under My Skin was released on May 25, 2004 and went to number one around the world, notably in the U. K., USA, Canada, and Australia, and on the Billboard Internet charts. The first single, «Don’t Tell Me», was released early, and by June 2004, has gone to number one in Argentina, top five in the U. K. and Canada, and top ten in Australia, Brazil, and a European composite chart.
The second single, «My Happy Ending», reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, making it her third biggest hit to date. She made the music video to the track in Actor/Singer Eric West’s neighborhood. The third single, «Nobody’s Home», only managed to reach number forty-one on the Billboard Hot 100, but due to the fans and people’s acceptance for the song, it easily became a hit.
Under My Skin’s fourth single, «He Wasn’t», reached number one in Canada, making the song her eighth number-one release since «Complicated». However, the chart trajectory was somewhat weak in the U. K., and «He Wasn’t» only reached number twenty-three. The song was not released in the United States.
Lavigne won a World Music Award in 2004 for favorite pop/rock artist, and also, once again led all the Juno nominees at the 2005 Juno Awards, picking up three, adding to her previous four, making seven.
Some members of the old school, hardcore punk community have an intense dislike for Lavigne and her style of music, which they believe waters down what punk is really all about. Comments she has made, showing a lack of knowledge/interest in the seventies punk movement and the luminaries of that movement, has led some to label her a poseur. Her music is also highly apolitical, and commercial in nature, leading to sell-out accusations.