Avril Lavigne has lost none of her rebellious edge
Canada's queen of rock may have matured as a performer, but she has not lost the rebellious edge that made her name, writes Doretta Lau
AVRIL LAVIGNE IS pumped about her return to Hong Kong.
The Canadian star says that the audience can expect "a fun rock show". "I'm going to play all the hits from over the years and perform new songs for the first time from my new album," she says in an e-mail interview.
She has released a number of platinum singles since 2002, such as Complicated and Girlfriend, so the set list should be long, like her signature blonde tresses. Lavigne's 2014 tour lands in Hong Kong on February 13 at AsiaWorld-Expo.
The singer's latest pop-punk opus, which is self-titled, was released in November, and features Let Me Go, a power ballad duet with her husband, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback fame. But fans searching for clues in the song about their relationship will be disappointed.
Collaborating with second husband Kroeger, whom she wed wearing a black dress and carrying a black bouquet in France last July, is great, she says. "He is so talented and fun to be around. Creating and making music is something we're both very passionate about."
The new album, her fifth, kicks off with Rock n Roll, an exuberant track with opening lyrics that sound like a battle cry: "Let 'em know that we're still rock n roll." As the song progresses, Lavigne declares: "I don't care if I'm a misfit/ I like it better than the hipster bulls***/ I am the mother****in' princess/ You still love it."
The chorus of Rock n Roll contains all the hallmarks of rebellion for which Lavigne is known. As she is quite laconic in interview, her lyrics are the next best avenue to better understanding her artistic intent and perhaps her personality: "When it's you and me/ We don't need no one to tell us who to be/ We'll keep turning up the radio/ What if you and I/ Just put up a middle finger to the sky/ Let them know that we're still rock n roll."
Somehow this comes off charmingly girlish, rather than angry.
Lavigne has staked out a particular persona. She's not a prim girl next door like country pop empress Taylor Swift, or a teen intellectual like newly minted New Zealand pop star Lorde. Instead, she's the rebel whose cause is to rock out - with a good attitude.
Lavigne, who turns 30 next year, is a model of consistency. She's not about to bend to the trends of the moment or bow down to "hipster bulls***". She became a breakout star in 2002 with the album Let Go, which featured the hits Complicated and Sk8ter Boi and has sold over 30 million albums.
While contemporaries such as Beyoncé are sampling Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in songs, Lavigne is still in touch with more universal themes: love, angst and having a "bitchin' summer".
"This album shows all sides of me," says Lavigne. "There are hints of everything I've done before, but there are also new sounds too. It's emotional, deep and fun, with pop tunes."
Her favourite songs on the album are Give You What You Like, Hush Hush and Bad Girl (a duet with Marilyn Manson). On Give You What You Like she displays a new emotional depth in her vocal delivery: "Please wrap your drunken arms around me/ And I'll let you call me yours tonight/ 'Cause slightly broken's just what I need."
There's a grown-up vulnerability to it, hints of a voice of experience that's unlike the narrator of Here's To Never Growing Up.
When compared with the 2002 single I'm With You, it's apparent that it is a performer who has travelled the world, and loved and lost and loved again, who is interpreting the lyrics.
"I have grown as a performer and I am more comfortable," she says. "I'm very happy right now and excited to go on tour."
She says that it's important "to stay true to who I am". At the moment, it appears Lavigne is the truest of them all.
Avril Lavigne, February 13, 8pm, AsiaWorld-Expo, Lantau, HK$580-HK$780, HK Ticketing. Inquiries: 3128 8288