Avril Lavigne’s debut album Let Go turns 15 on June 4, 2017. It’s the same age as its target demographic when it was released in 2002 — and yes, things are still “complicated.”
The conspiracy theory that Avril Lavigne is dead and has been replaced by a doppelganger recently gained new fervor. Proponents of the theory claim that the real Avril — the one who brought us the smash hit “Complicated” — has been dead for 14 years. In her place is a lookalike named Melissa, who apparently thought Avril would be into marrying Chad Kroeger.
Anyway, the theory’s re-emergence couldn’t have better timing. June 4 is the 15-year anniversary of Let Go. While the Internet is heatedly debating whether or not Avril has been replaced by a doppelganger, we can jam to her first (and best) album.
By the numbers:
According to Billboard, Let Go was in the top 25 best-selling albums of the decade. It’s also Avril’s most-sold record to date. It sold over 4 million copies in 2002 alone, putting it in the top 10 best-selling pop albums of that year.
The first single, “Complicated,” spent 31 weeks on The Hot 100 chart and topped out at number 2. It’s her most-streamed song on Spotify, with nearly 90,000 streams to date. Three of the top five most-streamed songs on Avril’s Spotify profile are from Let Go, accompanied by just two later tracks.
When Avril exploded onto the scene rocking a white tank top, studded wrist cuffs and a tie, she was unique insofar as she was a woman on the pop punk scene. The genre was moving into the height of its popularity at that time. Bands like blink-182 had paved the way for Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, The All-American Rejects and more to make their mark on the scene.
Avril was a solo act who wrote her own music, but lacked the same respect as other artists. Why? For starters, she was a woman. She was also immediately labeled a “poser” because she looked like she’d walked out of Hot Topic wearing the entire store.
Let Go fell more on the side of “pop” than “punk,” and she was immediately adopted by teenage girls everywhere as someone who understood their struggles. As always, if teenage girls like something, that invalidates its artistic merit. Whatever.
Women in music constantly struggle to prove themselves against an onslaught of mockery just for being women. Avril’s give-no-care attitude made her a hero among teen girls who strived to be weird and not care if people judged them for it. She created fashion trends, gave us lyrics to scream at the top of our lungs about things that drove us crazy, and did it all without seeming like it mattered to her at all.
Fifteen years later, Avril has mostly fallen out of the spotlight. She occasionally makes headlines — like when the Internet brings up a years-old conspiracy theory — but mostly, people remember her for one thing.
Let Go has become a seminal classic pop record. It had multiple hits, including “Sk8er Boi” and “I’m With You,” but none of those topped its first single. “Complicated” remains Avril’s most popular song to date, despite lyrics that … aren’t complicated at all.
"I like you the way you areWhen we’re drivin’ in your carAnd you’re talking to me one on oneBut you’ve becomeSomebody else ’round everyone elseYou’re watching your back like you can’t relaxYou’re tryin’ to be coolYou look like a fool to me"
The song has been covered by artists like Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and is popular in karaoke bars. Weird Al Yankovich parodied the song with “Constipated.” It’s the song everyone associates with Avril Lavigne.
Now, the lyrics have a whole new meaning when you consider the doppelganger conspiracy. “Acting like you’re somebody else, gets me frustrated” indeed.
This summer, celebrate your teenage self and rock a little Let Go on your beach trips. It’s only fitting, now that the album is as old as you were when you first learned the lyrics to its most popular song.