Music Review: Avril Lavigne, "The Best Damn Thing"
Release Date: April 17, 2007
Label: RCA Records
· Official Site
by Paul Schultz
Published: April 21, 2007
As I'm listening to Avril Lavigne's third release, The Best Damn Thing,
it's tempting to chant out, "Hey, hey, you, you, I don't like your album!" But I'd be doing that just for effect, and so is the young Canadian faux-punk songstress on her latest musical effort. She progressed from teen angst at age 17 on her debut Let Go, to moody sullenness on its follow-up Under My Skin, and now -- whatever she had -- she's apparently over it. Avril brings on the cheerleaders for The Best Damn Thing in a quest to be pep-rally queen.
Leading things off is the infectious "Girlfriend" which is currently storming the charts (#1 on Billboard for the issue date of 5-5). Imagine, if you will, an amalgamation of Toni Basil "Mickey" cheerleading vigor, and the thematic equivalent of "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me" Pussycat Dolls dating philosophy. Then, throw in some unnecessary profanity, and you have the perfect mindless anthem that Avril seems to be striving for. Ever since Eminem's "Lose Yourself" (from "8 Mile") won a Grammy and an Academy award, "motherf-----g" became an accepted lyrical descriptor, and Avril uses it here and also on "I Don't Have to Try". Rather than being
hip, it's obnoxious, and a sign of creative aridity.
Throw in a handful of ballads, and that's it. An album full of sing-song pop-princess melodies firmly ensconced in the school girl mindset. It's as if she hasn't grown up at all in the five years since she's been on the music scene, and is thinking again with the mind of a teenager. You know, an angry
teenager. "Now you're somewhere out there/with a bitch, slut, psycho babe/I hate you/why are guys so lame" ("Everything Back But You") is pretty
much representative of the depth of the lyrical ideas, along with "I hate it when a guy doesn't understand/why a certain time of month I don't wanna hold his hand" ("The Best Damn Thing") and "You're so full of shit/I can't stand the way you act" ("I Can Do Better"). And just in case a guy thinks he can influence Avril's world, "I'm the one who wears the pants!" is the shout out from "I Don't Have to Try" to put him in his place.
The Best Damn Thing can best be described as raunchy bubble gum pop-punk, and an indication of stunted maturity that would seem to be beneath Avril Lavigne at this point in her life. The album was produced by Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, who has helmed projects from American Idol alums Daughtry and Kelly Clarkson,
though his work with The Veronicas is probably more stylistically equivalent to what you'll find here. The love theme "Keep Holding On" (previously appearing on the soundtrack to Eragon)
at least concludes the album with a hopeful air, and contains no chants!
"I'm sick of this shit" is the line that jumped out at me when considering this album as a whole, but the title of the song it appears in is a more apt depiction: "I Can Do Better".
The Best Damn Thing is being released with expletives removed for the Wal-Mart and Target crowd, as well as a "deluxe edition" (differentiated by a pink cover) that
contains all the unedited swearing, and a DVD featuring the making of the album.
Avril Lavigne - "The Best Damn Thing"
02. I Can Do Better
04. The Best Damn Thing
05. When You're Gone
06. Everything Back But You
09. I Don't Have to Try
10. One of Those Girls
12. Keep Holding On