• Avril Lavigne’s 4th Studio Album.
• Released 8 March 2011.
• Considered by fans as her 2nd best album after Under My Skin according to an Avril Bandaids’ poll.
• The 4th best-selling 2011 Canadian album in the world, 1st by a female artist.
• Contains the #1 most successful Canadian 2011 single worldwide—”What the Hell”.
• Exactly half of the songs were written by Lavigne herself; the other half were co-written with others.
• Avril produced 2 of the tracks.
Thank you to our readers for voting for your favourite of the best-selling Canadian albums last year. You chose Avril Lavigne’s Goodbye Lullaby over albums by Michael Buble, Nickelback, Drake, and Justin Bieber as your favourite. Because of this, below is our special piece on the album.
On the cover of Avril Lavigne’s fourth studio album, Goodbye Lullaby, is a grand piano set in a glade surrounded by a forest of leafy trees. In world literature, the forest has always stood to symbolize demons of unknown ferocity. But those who were brave enough to enter such a dark and spooky realm were rewarded by finding hidden within a treasure, a holy being, a talisman, a magic sword, a band of merry men, or something as simple as a refuge from the menacing world on the outside. After a marriage that crumbled like brittle leaves in the autumn, a refuge awaited Avril; she found a peaceful, mellow spot with a piano lying in wait and began to craft her new work.
This was the first album on which Lavigne wrote a number of songs on her own, two of which she produced. Previously, she had co-written all tracks with others. The song-writing, production, and singing are first-rate through the entire disc. The style of music is somewhat mellower than on her previous works, as she composed most of the tracks on acoustic piano and strove for a more emotional vibe.
The year 2011 was launched, in part, by Avril Lavigne’s debut of the 2nd track on the album, the most successful Canadian single of 2011 worldwide. She performed “What the Hell” on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. “What the Hell” or “WTH” is the song that drove home the fact that Avril Lavigne can sing the pants off most of her contemporaries. The vocal range and strenuous demands of pitch-accuracy required to sing this piece are highly challenging, and Avril performed this live without any use of Autotune devices on variety shows, chat shows, reality shows, and concerts through the year, nailing each note with precision every time. Even those who dislike Avril’s style and music were forced to concede that her singing skills are exceptional.
Avril’s record company at the time, RCA, decided to release tracks co-composed by Max Martin and Shellback as the singles. “Smile” is a sassy number in which funky electric guitar strums and punchy beats precede a powerhouse chorus. “Wish You Were Here” is a more stripped-down acoustic number with a crisp, strong beat. The song centers on the feeling of missing someone, and one can see Avril’s real tears in its music video. The album includes bonus track “Alice” which Avril composed unaided for the Tim Burton Hollywood feature film.
Little Black Stars (Avril Lavigne fans) tended to favour songs that she co-wrote with former bandmate Evan Taubenfeld, especially “Everybody Hurts” and “Push”.
After listening to the songs Avril wrote herself we could almost conclude that she does not need to co-write her music with others. One of our favourite tracks on the album is “4 Real”, a song she wrote and produced herself. This beautiful song is about sincerity and commitment in relationships. It is very rare for a recording artist to be both an exceptional singer and composer and Lavigne proves here that she is one of those rare embodiments of such dual talent.
Like Elvis and the other founders of rock and roll in the 1950s, Avril has centered her lyrical themes on relationships, romance, heartbreak, and life’s struggles. Because her superstardom blasted through the domestic realm and embraced the entire planet, she had to consider that most of her fans were not native English speakers and many were in cultures where karaoke was the most important form of entertainment. It was not simply good enough to compose attractive music; she had to ensure that the songs were fun to sing with accessible everyday English verses bearing universal themes: “You say that I’m messin’ with your head”, “Didn’t think about it, just went with it”, “You stole my heart and you’re the one to blame”, “Everybody hurts some days; it’s okay to be afraid” are examples of such catchy verses.
Avril Lavigne is a Canadian princess who grew up in small town Ontario. She was, in the blink of an eye, thrust into a complicated and ferocious environment and, through her music, she tries to make some sense of it all. Seeking that place of romantic calm, like the kissing couple amidst the hockey riots, she worked her magic, putting her whole heart into this very, very good album.
In a music industry saturated with uninspired rock and filled with stars of style, not substance, talentless and manufactured, we welcome Avril Lavigne, and the few like her, to save the day and show us what real music is all about.