Why Avril Lavigne’s Music Sucks

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Who here still listens to Avril Lavigne? You know what they say: Everyone went through an “Avril phase,” at least at some point in their life. (This probably only applies if you’re of a certain age group, to be fair. But anyone between the ages of 15 and 35 can probably admit to this.)

She was hugely popular between 2002 and 2007, but the last 7 years have been quite the opposite for the pop rock singer. Nowadays, it seems like no one listens to Avril except for her remaining loyal fans. Most other people have moved on, for one reason or another. And most of them have one of two specific objections to her music now.

Both complaints seem odd to me. And they contradict each other: One half of people say that “her music never evolves” and she’s “stuck in the past and keeps putting out the same songs.” And the other half? “Avril has changed so much!” and “she doesn’t sound anything like what she used to – I used to like her music, but now it sucks!”

So how do these two contradicting criticisms make sense? They have the same root: There is a disconnect between the albums and their misrepresentative singles, and a disconnect between Avril’s music and her image.


“Avril’s music never evolves”

This is false for the first three albums. Listen to Let Go, a debut full of pop rock songs about teenage life and growing pains. It sounds innocent enough, but with a fair dose of confidence and staying true to yourself. Then listen to Under My Skin. This album is noticeably darker, with new instruments, heavier production, and a bit more anger and hurt. This was more like Evanescence goth rock – partially because Ben Moody played a role in it.

Then go to her 3rd album, 2007’s The Best Damn Thing. If this doesn’t sound like a huge difference to you, you may need your ears checked. Whereas her 2nd album is dark and angry, her 3rd is the opposite: Bright and fun and overall cheery. You can tell just by looking at the album covers: Under My Skin is black and white with a simple red X; The Best Damn Thing is set against a white background and has girly pink and cute hearts and stars everywhere.

That’s quite the mood change. The music is also rather different: The 3rd album is pop punk combined with cheerleader pop. Raw instrumentation, but with high pitched heys and handclaps. See “Girlfriend,” for example:


And this is where the music stopped evolving – according to the argument, at least. This is also where the issue of perception comes up:

The gleeful cheerleader pop of The Best Damn Thing was really just meant for that album. Avril was in a happy stage of her life, and wanted to have fun with her music. But when she was writing for her 4th record, she wanted to go back to a sound more like her earlier work. She had written all of these mellow acoustic songs. It wasn’t upbeat or fun. It was introspective, calm, and showcased vocals against minimal instrumentation. At least, this is what Avril wanted to release.

Her record label didn’t like her new music too much. They wanted to recreate the success of “Girlfriend.” They needed a radio friendly pop hit. At first Avril fought for her album. She didn’t want to repeat “Girlfriend,” and she didn’t want to write fun pop hits. Furthermore, that would ruin the vision she had for her new album. But after a year and a half of delays and label fights, she finally recorded a couple of “pop hits” and Goodbye Lullaby was released.

And of course, those “pop hits” were the singles, and they completely misrepresented the album. The first two singles, “What The Hell” and “Smile,” sound like they could have come from The Best Damn Thing. So of course people thought she was making the same music in 2011 as she did in 2007. That’s where the first claims that she “never evolves” cropped up.

But anyone who listened to the album would tell you that it was completely different from The Best Damn Thing. Most of it was in line with Avril’s original vision for the record – mellow, acoustic, introspective songs. But that’s not what the general public heard.

Compare the lead single “What The Hell” to Avril’s personal favorite song on the album, “Goodbye” –

The same issue arose with her 5th album. Avril had initially written dozens of quality songs, and they sounded more like indie and alternative rock. But after she thought she had finished her album, of course her record label wanted those pop hits again. This time she didn’t fight it as much, perhaps because of the bad experience with Goodbye Lullaby. Instead of arguing for a year and a half and losing the fight, only to have a way delayed album, she went ahead and made those pop songs.

The album was led by singles like “Here’s To Never Growing Up” and “Rock N Roll” – songs that once again sound like something she could have put out in 2007. And once again, more people complained that “she always sounds the same” and “never evolves.” But then if you listened to her full 5th album, Avril Lavigne, you would again hear the disconnect. The first half of the album is comprised of her newer “radio friendly pop songs,” and the second half contains the songs she originally wrote, the indie pop rock and ballads.

Try lead single “Here’s To Never Growing Up” vs. an album highlight called “Give You What You Like” –

It is in the non singles that one can hear Avril’s musical evolution, but no one hears that except her fans.


“Avril changed so much”

The second complaint is more about The Best Damn Thing than anything else. That album was such a huge departure from Avril’s first two that she lost a lot of fans. It was everything her first two albums weren’t: Pop, girly, and fun.

And as you can see, based on what you just read a few paragraphs ago, these “radio friendly pop hits” are the only songs nonfans are hearing from Avril these days. These singles that she is basically forced to release sound like all the bratty pop from 2007. And yet these singles don’t represent the full albums. If you listen to Goodbye Lullaby and Avril Lavigne, you may be surprised to find plenty of songs that sound more like her earlier work. Songs that her original fans might actually enjoy.


And That’s Why Avril’s Music “Sucks”

It’s all about perception and knowing all the music on an album – not just the two singles you heard. If all I heard from Avril was “What The Hell” and “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” I’d be disappointed too.

But luckily, I have heard Avril’s full albums, and found plenty of worthy gems to listen to instead. In my opinion, she has evolved, and she still makes amazing and inspiring music just like she used to in her career prime.

It’s fine if you still don’t like her music. But I only ask that you give her non-singles a chance before writing her off as a has-been that’s stuck in a bratty pop rut.


This Applies To Other Artists Too

Avril Lavigne is absolutely not the only artist to have a problem like this. Essentially every singer or band has problems with the music they want to write, and the music their label wants to put out. This is probably truer of major labels than indie labels, and probably a bigger problem among pop singers than rock bands. But the fact still remains: Many of these artists are stifled creatively, and end up having singles that they never wanted to even record.

The music industry is like that, unfortunately. It’s still a business, and the creativity is secondary to the men in suits that just want to fill up their wallets.

Personally, I think artists should all be allowed to record and release exactly what they want. The music world would be that much more interesting and exciting. Unfortunately, I don’t see this idealistic change happening any time soon. But at least there are good album tracks to listen to when the radio singles all start to sound the same.


I earned my master's degree in Music Business from Berklee College of Music in Valencia, and have since worked in a variety of areas within the music industry. Music is my life, and I'm excited to be part of the future of Hidden Jams.

Spread the love


I earned my master's degree in Music Business from Berklee College of Music in Valencia, and have since worked in a variety of areas within the music industry. Music is my life, and I'm excited to be part of the future of Hidden Jams.

16 thoughts on “Why Avril Lavigne’s Music Sucks

  • September 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Really intresting article!

  • September 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I know I defend her all the time about the same thing. I actually liked What the hell and smile but it didn’t sum up the whole album of what she is. Yea nowadays she gets overlooked because of it. Also I never thought any of her music sucks

    • October 13, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Exactly! We like “What The Hell” and “Smile” too – they just don’t represent the rest of the album. People thought she was just repeating “Girlfriend,” but Goodbye Lullaby has so much more that people would probably like if they knew about it. We don’t think any of Avril’s music sucks, but the singles she released probably made people think she wasn’t evolving, and so they lost interest when they shouldn’t have.

  • September 21, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Bad title decent article, she needs to tell the record company to fuck them selves like Vanessa Carlton did and make real music

    • October 13, 2015 at 9:06 am

      The title was just meant to get the attention of Avril’s haters and fans. But you’re right – Avril deserves to have full creative freedom like Vanessa Carlton does now that she’s on an independent label. Avril’s best work comes when she’s allowed to follow her vision for the album.

  • October 13, 2015 at 4:17 am

    The title sounded like you hate avril, I am a huge fan of avril and I, personally like ALL of her music. She has also had a tough career and gets so much hate. I am and always will be “Avril AF”

    • October 13, 2015 at 9:00 am

      The title was just meant to be provocative and grab the attention of Avril’s fans as well as haters. We love Avril and all her music. We were just tired of hearing people use these excuses for why they don’t like her music anymore. We agree with you – Avril does get too much hate. Hopefully that will change.

  • December 28, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    hey back on September 19 when i posted i forgot to say I was over 35 and as a matter of fact Im 41 and Im a Classic Rock fan and grew up listening to bands like the Police, Blondie, the CARS, Guns N Roses, Fleetwood Mac but I still love Avril Lavigne, Avril was influenced by No Doubt, a band Ric Ocasek produced. Yes Ric Ocasek of the CARS. Avril grew on me from 2002 and on and I never stopped loving her and her music. I recommend Goodbye Lullabye because all of the songs on it are amazing.

    • December 28, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Agreed, Goodbye Lullaby is one of Avril’s best albums. Songs like “Remember When,” “Darlin,'” and “Goodbye” are perfect. And yes, Avril seems to have some elements of No Doubt in her music, which is awesome, because we love ND! You have good taste in music 🙂

  • July 26, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Hasn’t Justin Bieber gotten more and more popular because of his “change”? What’s the difference with Avril? Her album was a bit different than what she used to do. Okay, and? It’s normal for stars to make a change in their music. I don’t see most people complaining over Selena Gomez and other artists.

    • December 10, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      I think the difference is that Bieber needed to grow up – he was a teen-pop-brat who needed to prove he could be a serious artist. He released an album with some good songs on it and got some credit for it. Avril had something that worked, and had become an established artist, but was then forced to go against what she wanted by her label, who wanted her to recreate her 2007 successes. Avril should not be attacked for producing a positive happy album in The Best Damn thing, because, as it says in the article, it reflected her outlook at the time. The real problem is that her label forced her to put in those songs into the following up albums and took the control away from her. (I have only recently started listening to Avril properly, obviously always being aware of the hits, and I must say Never Growing Up is one of my favourites, but I am still working through stuff and sure I will find some others).

      Sorry for long comment, I couldn’t find a potato. Sorry.

  • August 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Great article. I miss the days of Avril Lavigne singles goes by number 1s. I hate Avril Lavigne singles did not reach number 1 after 2002 and Avril Lavigne singles going by bratty songs like What The Hell. Blame RCA and bratty songs for screwing up Avril Lavigne’s career after 2002. It’s sad that Avril Lavigne is only popular in 2002 because she is just a fad. People don’t like her music from 2004 onwards and stick with other artists like Kelly Clarkson. I hope Avril Lavigne needs number 1s back instead of making unpopular bratty songs like Smile.

  • December 22, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Great article! I’m a huge Avril Lavigne fan, since Complicated was released (I was 9 yrs old ahah). She’s always had great control creatively on her work, especially and surprisingly on her first album, being her such a young artist. In 2009 she parted ways with her old management team, Nettwerk Manegment (the biggest indipendent Canadian Label, which had offered her a demo deal and sent her to NYC to work on some demos, and there she got eventually discovered and signed by L.A. Reid for Arista), and probably things have fallen down in terms of management from that point on. I agree on the fact that the hit singles, which were released out of GL and AL, do not represent the albums. It is really sad that people only get to hear those types of songs, instead of her more mature ones included in the albums. I love GL, and I think it’s her second best album (after LG). I think the label and her management team should leave her more freedom of creativity. Girlfriend Part 2 won’t ever happen, not because it is Girlfriend, but you cannot duplicate something that’s been so successful, a masterpiece can happen only once. I think she’s an incredible singer, and a great songwriter and producer (she’s produced two tracks on GL – which is something unique, not many artists can sing, play instruments, write and produce songs)… unfortunately cheap commercial sells most, but the label should remember that quality matters, not quantity. Sorry for the long comment!

    • January 31, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      Glad you like the article! Thanks for the comment! I agree with you about pretty much everything. Hopefully Avril’s new album will be exactly what she wants, and the singles will represent it well. She’s so talented and deserves the success.

      • April 19, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        hell yea I agree with you. I love Avril so much

  • February 11, 2017 at 6:09 am

    At first when i saw the title of this article i was like shit i the writer hates Avril but after i read this article i have to say this is an amazing article. Full of truth and hot tea lol.As a big fan of her i must say yes i agree 100% with this article,her label is responsible for almost everything.Everything went down the hill since The Best Damn Thing era, it is no doubt that Girlfriend is a massive success single which destroy many careers but also her own.A very bad promotion/marketing team is also one of the main reasons her last 2 albums flopped so badly(im sorry but it is the truth), bcuz i noticed eversince her TBDT era,Avril never perform on any major award show like Grammy,AMA,People/Kid/Teen Choice or even MTV Vma just like she used to back in Let Go-TBDT era.If only Give You What You Like served as a soundtrack for 50 shades of grey movie it would have been a massive hit

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