When Avril Lavigne first exploded onto the scene in 2002 with Complicated and put a pseudo-punk twist on pop-rock music, I was in mad love with her. Really liked the way she dressed (yes, I liked her ties), the way she sang (even if her live performances were off-key), and the way she didn’t seem to give a shit. It was also pretty cool knowing that she was Canadian.
But, of course, like with most singers in the spotlight, Avril Ramona Lavigne evolved over the years since she became more successful. She churned out hit after hit including the often-mocked Sk8er Boi, the ‘more mature’ I’m With You, and the teeny-bopper anthem, Hot.
Throughout her career, I can’t help but notice how she see-saws between promoting a stereotypical teenage girl and a strong kick-ass-take-names womyn of the world (yes, woman with a y – look it up).
Even though I’m no longer a big Avril Lavigne fan, I can respect her. She has a strong personality despite being 5’2″ tall. Dynamites come in small packages.
Although I think Avril Lavigne’s music is generally happy-go-lucky and feisty, a problem I have with her songs is that despite getting older, her songs remain very teenage-esque. Some people love her for that, and I can understand it, but I prefer artists who are able to break out of the teenage stereotype and still keep their aging fan base.
Now for a Play-by-Play of What the Hell
At the beginning of What the Hell, we see Avril waking up in bed with some random dude. She’s wearing nothing except a bra and panties. The guy wakes up and looks like he wants to cuddle, but she instead gets up and puts on a dress shirt. All the while, she’s singing about how the guy think she’s messing with his head because she made out with his friend. But “love hurts whether it’s right or wrong”. And she’s “having too much fun”.
The feminist behaviour here is her being authentic to her own wants. And it’s interesting to see how throughout the video, she keeps mentioning his feelings and how he keeps begging her to stay with him. But clearly she doesn’t give a glock! She’ll do what makes her happy. Bitch? Maybe. Bad? Sometimes.
The loser gets out of bed and tries to get fresh with Avril. She isn’t having it! She pushes him into a closet and locks him in there! WTF? Is he Charlie Sheen’s prostitute? (Sorry, I heard that joke somewhere and thought it was too good not to share.)
In the next scene, she steals a taxi cab and drives it erratically to get away from the guy (who somehow got out of the closet and is now pedaling on a bike to try to keep up). She’s carefree with her pop-princess pink-hair highlight, and breaks the rear-view mirror when she tries to adjust it.
In the chorus, Avril Lavigne says how all her life she’s been good, but now she’s thinking what the heck? Might as well fool around and enjoy myself. Who cares about getting serious with any guy?
As she gingerly exits her car, she lets it roll…and it crashes into a parked car.
But it’s the next scene that’s ridiculous with a capital R! She hits a basketball court with men who make her look like a midget. They throw the ball to her, and she shoots an easy lay-up.
Then, in a schizophrenic second, we’re whisked off to a vintage-clothing store where she tries on clothes. The guy (who’s now officially a stalker) finds her at the store and ends up having to pay for clothes she wears out of the store without warning.
And…another scene change! This time we’re in a sketchy hallway. Someone should speak to the landlord because the lights shine only blue.
Enter Mr. Stalker. Throw the poor dog a bone! All he wants is a smoocheroo. So she pretends to get all hot and heavy with him. But then she all of a sudden runs up on stage and starts performing. Our slow-witted Mr. Stalker who clearly can’t take no for an answer and who still thinks he has a shot smiles sleepily as he watches her perform.
Thinking that she’s a total badass, Avril flips the bird not once, but twice. Maybe in 1920 that would’ve been shocking, but now it’s as common a hand gesture as the thumbs up. To be a total badass, you need to do something fucking awesome…like get a “Mom” tattoo…hahahaha!
The final scene is Avril in bed again with Follower, and she winks to the camera because she knows that she’s the one who wears the pants in that ill-fated relationship.
It’s fun to sing the song even though I’m embarrassed to admit it. But because it isn’t much of a departure from Avril’s previous work, this isn’t a tune that I’ll be spinning often.
What do you think of What the Hell? Do you see it as empowering women to be free and do what they want? Or are you sick and tired of it being the same old, same old?