Twenty years since the release of her first album Let Go, Avril Lavigne — the pop-punk princess that we all know and love — is back. And two decades after I first heard her single, “I’m With You”, I finally got to attend her concert. Here’s the lasting impact she’s made on my life.
A Pop-Punk Princess Bursts onto the Scene
Avril Lavigne hit the music scene in June 2002 with the release of her debut album Let Go and officially gained the title of “pop-punk princess” thanks to the persona she unleashed in her “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” videos, which featured Avril skateboarding, rocking out on the guitar and crashing malls.
During this era, mainstream pop music consisted of hyperfeminine and pristine pop stars with the likes of Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears reigning the charts. For the most part, their hits were cutesy generic dance beats sung by the non-threatening “girl next door”.
To further evoke the memory of the pop music scene in the 2000s, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys were also enjoying substantial success. When Avril Lavigne stomped onto the scene with her heavy dark eyeliner, baggy pants, and ties, she served as a welcome reprieve — her unique sound could not be ignored. With her sassy debut, she created a legion of preteen fans (including myself, of course) that has lasted for two decades.
The First Time I Heard Avril Lavigne
I still remember the day I discovered Avril Lavigne. I was with my oldest sister, Nurin, soaking up her thoughts on all the different music hits playing on MTV. Then “I’m With You” started to play and we were instantly transfixed. For once in her life, Nurin was at a loss for words.
Then, in typical older sibling fashion, she declared that Avril is her new favorite artist and that I need to find a different favorite artist. But (probably for the only time in my life), what my older sister said didn’t matter — Avril Lavigne had just stolen a piece of my heart.
How Avril Lavigne Influenced My Life
Growing up, Avril Lavigne was snarky, cute and exactly who I wanted to be. To this day, I wear my hair long and straight because that’s how she did it. My attire in junior high was totally inspired by Avril: all baggy pants and tank tops with leather bracelets. I tried to walk around with a punk attitude the way Avril did in her music videos.
There’s no song that hits me quite like My Happy Ending. I remember belting it out at the top of my lungs before I even knew what heartbreak felt like. And I remember coming back to it when I experienced my first heartbreak. Avril’s attitude always reminded me that you can be unique but still be a strong, successful woman — and that there’s nothing wrong with a little spunk and being rebellious!
But, as Avril grew up, I grew up. I remained a loyal fan, but it was like two childhood friends going their separate ways. Avril moved away from her pop-punk sound that initially stole my heart as a child and even stopped releasing music for a while as she faced health struggles. I started listening to different artists. Nostalgia, positive memories and only love remained, but we had both moved on.
The Pop-Punk Princess Returns
While I may have thought, Avril Lavigne and I would not cross paths again, all that changed at the end of 2020. Avril’s public persona slowly began to revert to the pop-punk princess that I remembered so well from my teenage years.
I follow so many celebrities on Instagram, I rarely pause to fully absorb what I’m looking at, until one day a picture of Avril, Machine Gun Kelly and Mod Sun appeared on my feed teasing new music. It made me pause. I remember glancing at the photo thinking, “No way, is Avril Lavigne actually going to release pop-punk music again?”.
@avrillavigne ♬ Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne
Then in June 2021, she went viral when she released a TikTok skateboarding with Tony Hawk, bringing back her “Sk8r girl” persona. All the coy teasing and evoking of nostalgic feelings really began to re-capture my attention. Finally in November 2021, she released her pop-punk banger “Bite Me”, announced a new album (Love Sux) and a tour.
Avril Lavigne’s Comeback
I was screaming. Literally. My childhood hero? Yeah. New pop-punk music? Yeah. Live in concert? Hell. Yeah.
And thus began the most annoying six months of my friends’ lives, as I began to plan out my Avril Lavigne concert outfit and talk about her non-stop. What would I wear? There were so many different eras to pull from. I absolutely needed a pink streak like she had during The Best Damn Thing era. Someone needed to do my eyeliner because I had no clue how to do it, but I needed to look like Avril. And where could I get those new trendy platform boots she’s wearing nowadays?
Attending the Concert of My Childhood Hero
In the end, it was all worth it, as her concert definitely delivered. Listening to her music live brought me back to so many different moments in my life. Back to my childhood and discovering this artist with my older sister. Back to the days of rushing my parents out of the living room because an Avril Lavigne concert was on TV. Back to the days where I would try to emulate her attitude and was sent to the principal’s office for rolling my eyes. Back to my first boyfriend, who definitely had a secret Avril crush himself.
During the concert, Avril had no problem tugging at our heartstrings as she screened clips from her original music videos throughout her live performance. Her setlist was impeccable, showcasing bangers from her new album (“Bite Me”, “Cannonball”) but also pulling out her fun bumpy songs (“What the Hell”, “Here’s to Never Growing Up” and “Smile”) as well as the songs that cue the nostalgia and tears (“My Happy Ending” and “Complicated”).
Avril’s Lasting Influence
The love that her fans showed her was reciprocated by Avril, who looked genuinely happy to be there. With the longevity of her career and the fact that twenty years in she can still sell out stadiums, you know she’s performing for us because she truly wants to.
As I stood there at the concert with 10,000 other die-hard fans screaming out the lyrics for EVERY song, I realized that Avril will truly be the only pop-punk princess. No artist has ever shaped or influenced my life the way that Avril Lavigne did.
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Lead image: “Avril” by .Storm is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.