Single Review: Avril Lavigne – ‘What The Hell?’

Well, if it isn’t the return of the original bratty teenaged pop songstress that so many others have channelled influences from. From Ke$ha to Taylor Momsen to Uffie and fresh-on-the-pop-scene Jessie J, many have been influenced by Avril’s well… “what the hell?” nature and generally being the antithesis of a role model. Sure, each has taken only parts of Avril and added their own special ingredients: synthesisers, a perpetually glum face, auto-tune and flesh to name just a few things, but for me, Avril was always the first snotty teenaged popstar with real attitude.

During Avril’s career, she’s not really shown much versatility genre-wise, but in an emotional response, she’s always made her opinions clear – her more riotous songs like ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8er Boy’ and ‘Boyfriend’ convince on all levels the angsty ups and downs of teenage relationships and, once injected with Avril’s sense of humour, make for one super-catchy listen. Even her ballads, like the beautiful ‘My Happy Ending’, ‘Keep Holding On’, and ‘When You’re Gone’ prove that she’s a talented lyricist when the time comes to discuss her more personal, more mature approaches to pop whilst still providing plenty of catchy hooks.

The long-awaited comeback, ‘What The Hell?’, is a brash, lary wall of pop/rock married with a synthier sound than what we’re used to hearing from dear Avril, but it’s still willing to slap you in the face in with it’s whimsical approach to responsibility none-the-less.

Opening with a retro-tinged synth-stab, before a playful drum loop and a smidgeon of Avril’s piercingly powerful voice soon join the fun. She goes over the usual lyrics about a tricky relationship but soon leaves her inhibitions and explodes straight into a chorus brimming with waily goodness, demonstrating why she’s often very underrated as singer by doing some very impressive, very catchy melisma – “All my life I’ve been good, but now/Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-at the hell!?”. Yes, Avril, with a voice like that, what the hell indeed.


Some may find it annoying – very annoying, and granted, the lyrics are a little uninspired and you get the impression she’s said it all before. And if not your of her voice, then her vocal ornaments on ‘What The Hell?’ could easily push you a little too far and yes, Avril does succumb to the urge to shove in a few “La la la”s towards the end but WHO ACTUALLY CARES? This is the kind of feel-good song that the charts have needed for a while; a song that’s basically about giving responsibility the old elbow jab and just going with it.

And I’m going to award an extra star because it manages to convey this message without once having to reference “da club”, “da shawties”, or “dat swagga”.

Rating: 5.0 STARS

Download: January 17, 2011 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Goodbye Lullaby’

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    If it’s possible, What The Hell is every bit as juvenile as Girlfriend and every bit as absurdly catchy and fun. It’s an anthem to reckless abandon and just having a good time. And delivered in such a bratty tone, despite Avril being in her late 20’s she still manages to come across like a feisty teenager.

    The charts are crying out for something like this right now. 

  2. Amaranth

    How much did her record company pay for that? The song is catchy for sure, but nothing spectacular. Will people remember “What the hell” 10 years from now? I doubt it. She has better songs.

    “Even her ballads, like the beautiful ‘My Happy Ending’, ‘Keep Holding On’, and ‘When You’re Gone’ prove that she’s a talented lyricist”

    She could then show her lyrical talent by writing songs by herself. She made a career out of portraying herself as a punk/rock-songwriter-guitarist-virtuoso for teens who don’t know any better, and up to this day she is yet to make a rock album, write an album or even a fricking hit song by herself and show that she is  capable of doing something else with her guitar than just hanging it around her neck and sturmming a few chords. Her “not going to sell music with my body”-stance didn’t last too long either, the only thing she’s got going on for her is acting like a bratty teenager when you’re 26.

    I fail to see the greatness in that, but that could be just me…

  3. David

    “her more riotous songs like ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8er Boy’ and ‘Boyfriend’


    The songs not bad, a bit same old, it sort of annoys me that she’s what, 26 now? yet she’s still playing up the bratty teenage image, I was hoping for something a bit more mature from her, something along the lines of what she did with ‘Alice’, but we’ll see, supposedly this is the least personal song from her on the album and you can tell from the way she talks about it that she really isn’t a fan of it.

    By the way, here’s the video:

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Did you spot the very unsubtle Abbey Dawn plug right in the middle of the video? Abbey Dawn is Avril’s clothing line, so it was a smart plug – but is it OK for artists to promote other products through their videos? Remember when Britney had a product shot for her perfume at the beginning of one of her videos?

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