Avril Lavigne – “Sk8r Boi”

Released: 10.28.02

Peak: #10

In a world where snooty ballerinas rule the school, feared and desired by all, and where cute boys with skateboards are despised and ridiculed, one raccoon-mascara’d brat stands up for what she believes in. Avril Lavigne is… Not-Britney.

“Sk8r Boi” is ridiculous. Its plot jumps and jerks like someone dropped and broke a bad John Hughes movie, then reassembled it in the wrong order. (Too bad Paramount’s plans for a feature film based on its lyrics fizzled out.) But Avril herself was ridiculous. Not because she wasn’t “really” a “punk,” but because she really was the kind of tomboy who hates to hang with the girls. Say what you will about Britney, but she saved her (very) occasional vitriol for the boys who earned it. Avril is about as un-sisterly as pop stars come, and though she never stooped to the level of Pink’s “Stupid Girls,” she actually could make it any more obvious, as “Girlfriend” proved.

TRLings with a grudge against cheerleaders may have loved Avril because she dissed thongs in Rolling Stone, because her videos were about fucking shit up at the mall, because she wasn’t Michelle Branch (at least not till “I’m With You.”)  But for grown-ups, Avril’s pleasures were largely musical. In other words, her pleasures were provided by the Matrix–the members of which I have determined through careful research have actual names, and produced fewer hits than they threatened to at the time.

I was once taken in by the slick craft of “Complicated,” though my reservations about a mid-tempo pop country song about being yourself have grown over time. But I remain enough of a sucker for the central gimmick of mall-punk–the repeating riff with the changing bass note underneath–that I still give in to the not-quite-headlong rush of “Sk8r Boi.” Anyway, fuck ballerinas. They think they’re so great.

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