Sunday, May 21, 2006

Avril Lavigne must be horrified

It's a ubiquitous cultural trope: the young rebellious teenager listening to music that those of an elder generation consider noise. "What's that crap you're listening to? In my day, we had music." As the elder pontificates on outdated music, the teenager rolls her eyes, and turns up the volume, revelling in how much her tunes annoy the old fogeys.

So what would Avril Lavigne think of the fact that I, nearly 40 and very definitely an old fogey in the generation she's supposed to be horrifying and rebelling against, listen to her music? Would she be horrified, thinking she must be doing something wrong since she's supposed to be counter-cultural and rebellious, young and hip? Or is she just mercenary enough to think, "another $2.50 in my pocket, sweet!" and leave it at that?

Anyone got her cell phone number so they can call her and find out? I'm curious.

Admittedly, I also listen to plenty of "old fogey" music. Avril is a guilty pleasure for me. Her stuff is vapid, but so is old Van Halen. But Van Halen knew their stuff was vapid; it was made that way on purpose, with a good-natured, self-deprecating cheerfulness. Avril is just young and naïve enough to take herself seriously, and that makes the banality of her lyrics endearingly charming, like the fumbling efforts of a kitten that isn't quite old enough to walk, but tries, falls down, gets up, and tries again.

Or at least that's the image she presents, which is undoubtedly calculated and manufactured and nurtured by canny record-company executives. Still, one can't help wonder; isn't it easier for them to find someone who actually thinks she's rebelling and then nurture that? It seems likely that behind the artificial superficiality of most pop stars lies a genuine superficiality.

1 comment:

litlfrog said...

"It seems likely that behind the artificial superficiality of most pop stars lies a genuine superficiality."

I really, really like this sentence. Avril is hardly countercultural or innovative. On a good day, she's three degrees off center of mainstream pop. The world needs pop music though, and a big-league young singer who still wants to write her own material--and does a pretty good job of it--deserves recognition for it.