Avril Lavigne’s most rebellious musical moments

Avril Lavigne has well and truly earned her title of pop-punk princess, but in case you didn’t know, she’s actually one of the most versatile musicians in the music industry.

The hitmaker debuted with “Complicated” two decades ago. The cheerful “Sk8er Boi” followed soon after. That double punch coupled with his uniform of cargo pants, tank tops, ties and more than a little smoky eyeliner introduced us to a then-burgeoning talent who had no interest in becoming a traditional pop star.

Avril knew how to handle herself and spent the next few years proving it.

From what we’ve heard so far, Avril’s seventh album Love Sux (out Feb. 25) is on track to deliver more pop-rock and pop-punk fans have come to know and love from the self-proclaimed “mother—princess.” Lead single “Bite Me” was co-produced by Blink-182’s Travis Barker, and Machine Gun Kelly features on a song called “Bois Lie”. What more can be said ?

While it looks like Avril’s new album will closely follow in the footsteps of let go and under my skinthe singer is able to conquer a much wider range of genres.

He’s a rock star in his own right, that’s for sure. But she also explored pop, country and (believe it or not) hip-hop and EDM.

What we’re saying is that Avril Lavigne is known for taking some very unexpected steps in the music industry. Below are 12 examples that show this very clearly.

  • 1

    “Head Above Water” – 2018

    Singer’s experience with Lyme disease inspired 2019’s title track Head above water. The moving ballad finds Avril searching for strength and endurance in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge. It has a quality of an anthem; his pleas for help would not be out of place on Christian radio. Mature and beautifully performed, it’s not exactly a song you’d expect from the once rowdy teenager who sang “Sk8er Boi” so convincingly, showcasing the depth and range that can develop over the years.

  • 2

    “Tell me it’s over” – 2018

    “Tell Me It’s Over” is proof that this pop-punk princess also appreciates the classics. If you’ve ever wondered what an Avril Lavigne song inspired by Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin or Etta James would sound like, look no further. This breaking anthem finds the hit-maker looking for closure on a vaguely retro production, and it sounds perfectly at home while pulling the vocal trigger. It’s an unexpected detour in the star’s discography, which nevertheless fits perfectly.

  • 3

    “Stupid Blonde” – 2019

    Is a musician’s career complete without a collaboration with Nicki Minaj? Avril was late to the trend when they teamed up in 2019. However, she and the “Superbass” rap queen apparently had a great time on “Dumb Blonde.” Opening with a drum line reminiscent of “Hollaback Girl”, the banger culminates on its sung chorus. A reference to “Cherry Bomb” adds a bit of edge that makes this celebration of being blonde even cooler. As if we expected less…

  • 4

    “Goddess” — 2019

    Head above water is undoubtedly the most eclectic album of the singer’s discography. It weaves from the prayer-like title track to the bubbly “Dumb Blonde” before settling firmly into the realm of acoustic pop on “Goddess.” Sparse production here underscores the evocative quality of Avril’s voice. After the emotional anguish of previous releases, she has clearly found peace in a relationship and is able to sing with complete sincerity. Oh, and don’t get us started on the amazing pronunciation of “bananas.” Sheer shine.

  • 5

    “Memory” — 2019

    The last Head above water song on this list, “Souvenir” opens with some traditional Avril Lavigne vocal passages. However, what follows bears little resemblance to his classic tunes. Thematically, this breezy bop is about the end of a summer adventure, and it packs an almost sugary pop production to match the lyrics. It doesn’t miss any of the teeth of the singer’s traditional pop-rock numbers and instead nods to what might have been if the star had taken a very different path in her career.

  • 6

    “Get Over Me” (with Nick Carter) – 2015

    Believe it or not, Nick Carter landed a duet with Avril before the Backstreet Boys dropped their collaboration with Britney Spears. The ‘I’m With You’ star debuted as the antithesis of their bubblegum aesthetic in 2002. But in 2015, she shocked pop historians when she teamed up with Carter on ‘Get Over Me’ . Sure, the fun pop-rock anthem is absolutely in his wheelhouse, but his duet partner is out of left field. As we said, she is the queen of unexpected musical moves.

  • 7

    “Hello Kitty” – 2014

    Imagine going back in time to tell your angsty teenager that Avril Lavigne would one day include a beat drop on a song. In 2002, long before the EDM craze took off, the concept would be unimaginable. However, that’s exactly what happened on “Hello Kitty” in 2013. Bratty and probably a bit problematic, she’s the singer who gives him the best impression of Kesha. There’s a moaning quality (in a good way) to her voice as she talks-sings to an irresistible dance-pop breakdown. We never saw it coming, but we’re still glad he did – even if it sounds a bit like “Harajuku Girls”.

  • 8

    “Let Me Go” (with Chad Kroeger) – 2013

    Here’s a lesser-known fact: Before she became the pop-punk princess we know and love, Avril once performed with Shania Twain. Considering that, it may make his detour into the country on 2013’s “Let Me Go” easier to understand. To be fair, this duet with Chad Kroeger by Nickelback straddles a fine line between being a rock or country ballad. Opening with desperate touches, it features rising vocals from both. There’s a dearth of twang, but the song offers a hint at a sonic direction we’d like to see the star probing deeper.

  • 9

    “Goodbye” – 2011

    2011 goodbye lullaby pushed Avril Lavigne in unexpected directions. For example, “Goodbye”, self-written and produced, is an orchestral ballad. There’s a lushness to the production, but it overrides the singer’s quivering voice. This fragile quality is at odds with the confidence with which she bids farewell to a former lover. “Goodbye Brown Eyes / Goodbye My Love,” she coos, ending an era with grace and almost reverent beauty.

  • ten

    “Girlfriend” – 2007

    All About “Girlfriend,” Avril Lavigne’s First and Only Top Lister on the Billboard Hot 100, is truly iconic. However, the sing-along anthem really takes off on the pre-chorus.“She’s like whatever / You could do so much better / I think we should get together now” she sings before falling into the aggressive talk-sing. Percussion and guitar riffs prevent this perky banger from falling too far into the pop realm, marking a drastic sonic shift for the artist. However, 2007 was about the furthest the hitmaker had ever gone from her punky roots. Not to mention, he got a remix with rapper Lil Mama several years before the Nicki Minaj collab craze took off. Talk about being ahead of the curve.

  • 11

    “Keep Holding On” – 2006

    To release a song like “Head Above Water”, Avril Lavigne had to lay the groundwork. That’s what she did with “Keep Holding On” in 2006. The ballad landed on the soundtrack of Eragon and rises significantly higher than the flop of a dragon movie. Sonically, it doesn’t stray far from “Breakaway,” which Avril wrote before handing it over to Kelly Clarkson. He’s surprisingly wholesome but still retains those signature vocal tics and tricks to keep things firmly in the star wheelhouse.

  • 12

    “Complicated” – 2002

    At a time when Britney Spears and bubblegum pop were ruling the game, Avril Lavigne chose to go against the grain. The newcomer never even tried to blend in with the herd of pop princesses coming out of music in 2002. Instead, she embraced her angst, dumped it on a production courtesy of The Matrix and put everything in the form of “Complicated”. The move paid off and positioned the then-teen as a response to pop stars who dazzled the charts. Raw and real, her debut single instantly became counterculture and set her on the path to carving out a place for herself as one of the biggest stars of a generation. It still holds up 20 years later.