Attention rock chicks! Every Avril Lavigne single ranked from worst to best
Complicated needs adding to the Great Canadian Songbook
Avril Lavigne was the anti-Britney. She was for pop music what Tracy Beaker was for children’s telly. Parents watched their kids with a cautious eye when they got a bit too invested in Avril’s iconic, post-grunge bad girl antics. A rock chick to the bone, a knack for big choruses and anthemic pop punk stadium fillers – Avril is one of the best selling Canadian artists of all time and has defined our generation as a great singer-songwriter doing something different to the major label chart sound. With the release of her new single Bite Me, her first under her new home with Travis Barker’s DTA record label, never has there been a more apt time to get all 32 Avril Lavigne singles ranked from worst to best. How does the new single stack up? You’ll have to both read on. But most importantly, you’ll have to rock on.
32. The Best Damn Thing
“I hate it when a guy doesn’t get the tab, and I have to pull my money out and that looks bad” … I mean, does it? What kind of message is that? The title track and truly dreadful final single from Avril’s third album is a massive misfire. The prechorus has some promise, but all good has been squandered by the unbearable intro.
There’s a fine line between belting your tits off and shouting down your listeners ears, and I am sorry to say that Alice well and truly crosses that line. Half of this song is just Avril Lavigne screaming. She has one of the best voices in the industry, but can we have that top register in moderation, please!
30. We Are Warriors
It’s a charity single, so I will try not to be too harsh on it, but We Are Warriors is pure hell. It’s a semi-rewrite of the closing song on Avril’s 2019 album, with every “I” in the lyrics changed to a “we”. I really hate that the branding of this entire song comes off like a Game Of Thrones cosplay convention. What the Skyrim is going on with all these shields and swords?
29. Give You What You Like
Quite a mellow state of affairs here by Avril Lavigne singles standard, and it’s not particularly offensive but gets a low ranked placement for being a bit tepid. It really needs to pick up the pace at the halfway point and get going, but it never does. Nobody’s favourite Avril song.
28. I Fell In Love With The Devil
Christ, the production on this one is DULL. The fourth single from Head Above Water, I Fell In Love With The Devil goes for cinematic grandeur but winds up sounding like the copyright-free music you hear playing in Home Bargains. It’s so middling and soulless.
The better of the charity singles, but not by very much. Is there an unwritten rule that every pop star’s well intentioned charity single has to be a bit shit? Fly sounds like the kind of original song Rachel Berry would do on Glee.
26. Hello Kitty
Controversial! Western critics slammed Hello Kitty for cultural appropriation, but Japanese fans loved it and had no issues with the content at all. The song opens with “Mina saiko arigato”, which roughly translates to “thanks everyone, you guys are the best” – and was created as a love letter to her Japanese fans and Japanese culture, as well as Avril’s reverence for Hello Kitty. The issue isn’t cultural appropriation, the issue is the song is crap.
25. Here’s To Never Growing Up
It was a big hit, but I’m not sure that Here’s To Never Growing Up actually deserved it. The whole track comes across like an imitation of a Teenage Dream era Katy Perry song. Why are we singing Radiohead at the top of our lungs? Who is actually doing that? Do you know anyone?
24. Dumb Blonde
The weirdest song on Earth. Why does this exist? Avril Lavigne recruiting Nicki Minaj for the third single from Head Above Water that sounds sonically NOTHING like the previous two singles, or like anything else on that album. It’s got a The Best Damn Thing era pop punk angst to it that I actually really like, but the context of Dumb Blonde just makes it feel so bizarre. Completely left field, but actually bops when the mood is right.
23. Fall To Pieces
The final single from her second album is the first of the Avril Lavigne ranked singles where I can announce we’re really getting to the good stuff. A more acoustic moment in comparison to that record’s harder rock sound, it’s a song that lyrically really showcases Avril’s more vulnerable side and it’s a lovely little listen!
22. Let Me Go
Not a huge fan of the production on this, and to be honest that’s a majorly recurring issue on the whole of her self-titled fifth album. Everything sounds like it’s been mixed with free piano loop samples from Garage Band. That aside, this duet with Avril’s then husband Chad Kroeger (of Nickleback fame) is a stirring rock power ballad and their vocals sound really great together.
21. He Wasn’t
Not many Avril songs capture that Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack vibe as perfectly as He Wasn’t – a bombastic and raucous single from Under My Skin. This is mid 00s teen film soundtrack Avril in its purest form. Absolute banger. The little peppy cheers of “Hey, hey, hey!” are fun little precursors to everything the world was about to get in The Best Damn Thing era, too.
20. Flames (with MOD SUN)
Avril Lavigne kicked off 2021 featuring on MOD SUN’s single Flames, and it’s exactly the kind of sound she should be doing in a year where pop punk and rock are firmly back on the map and burning up the charts. Avril annihilates the chorus, bringing her iconic vocals to the table like no one else can and her and MOD SUN have great chemistry.
19. Wish You Were Here
Sonically, it’s the poor man’s When You’re Gone. But even a poor man’s When You’re Gone is a decent time. It’s break up Avril doing one of her trademark soft rock singles that pop up every era, and it’s a decent track that I nostalgically have a lot of love for and remember absolutely adoring in my final years of high school.
18. Tell Me It’s Over
A Memphis soul single? From Avril Ramona Lavigne? Erm… Okay! It’s giving big Demi Lovato energy, but when she sings this well and does this good a job of it who the hell cares! It’s got a Love On The Brain by Rihanna energy to it. She sounds really spectacular on Tell Me It’s Over and it feels like a cuddle on Christmas Day from your Gran. Cozy vibes. Is it very Avril? Not really. But it is a good tune.
17. Rock N Roll
“Let ’em know we’re still rock n roll!” ROCK ON! “I like it better than the hipster bullshit” is such a funny line and a big 2013 relic from when we were all obsessed with the concept of hipsters for some reason. It’s the best song from Avril’s self titled album, a huge return to form at the time and the Girlfriend referencing “I’m still the motherf*cking princess” makes me smile every time.
16. Don’t Tell Me
Coming in at the halfway point for Avril Lavigne singles ranked is her sophomore lead single, Don’t Tell Me. For album two, Avril Lavigne kicked off the era with a softer sounding single that somewhat lives in the shadow of the two louder singles that follow it and although those two will be ranked higher, Don’t Tell Me is gorgeous in its own right. She gets compared to her all the time, but this truly is very Alanis Morissette in structure and delivery. NEVER a bad thing.
Ignore the Jared Leto as The Joker horror of that YouTube thumbnail – Smile is an excellent Avril Lavigne single and deserved to be another huge Goodbye Lullaby hit after What The Hell. Its chorus is big, shout along fun and it’s an old friend I’m happy to see whenever I go for my Avril Lavigne fix. Could really do without the flippant reference to spiking, but that aside Smile is pop punk Avril at both her poppiest and punkiest.
Hot is a bloody banger. The Best Damn Thing era at its boppiest. This song should have been as huge as the singles before it because it really kept up the momentum. Everything about Hot screams superstar. The chorus is one of my favourite things Avril has ever done, and the middle eight is such a gorgeous showcase for how elastic her vocals are. Great!
Let Go’s most underrated baby. Mobile is more Alanis Morissette than Alanis Morissette herself. Avril sounds so wonderfully Canadian on every syllable and the soft strumming into the heavier chorus is banger-central. If you’ve never given Mobile your attention before, it really deserves it. If you need any proof on how great Let Go is as an album, think on the fact its lowest ranked single is coming in 13th. A wow.
12. Keep Holding On
Remember the film Eragon? Nope, me neither, despite the fact my class got forced to watch it in our German lesson in 2008. Perhaps it’s all for the best that the greatest thing to come out of that flop franchise attempt was Keep Holding On, an anthemic and soaring ballad that rightly got critical acclaim amongst the panning of Eragon itself. If the “Nothing you can say / Nothing you can do” section doesn’t convince you Avril is one of the best singers we have, nothing will.
11. Nobody’s Home
A bleak and frank song lyrically exploring depression, Nobody’s Home is one of Avril’s best written tunes and still maintains its power to move and devastate to this day. Everything about Nobody’s Home feels powerful – with an Evanescence-esque force that captures the darker mood and grunge that makes Under My Skin such an iconic Avril Lavigne album.
It is perhaps sacrilegious that a song as career defining (nay, decade defining) as Girlfriend is just coming in at 10, but with the standard of the nine songs ahead I think it’s justified. Only just, though. Girlfriend is a smash in every sense of the word. It was a titanic and unescapable force of nature, blasting out at every party you’d find yourself at in the late 2000s whether that be the dance floors of weddings or a disco in the school hall. It made a highly successful rock chick a global pop superstar, without losing her punky prowess. In a song full of iconic highlights, the best moment is the DELICIOUS “So come over here” melody that goes over the top of the main line in the second verse. Spectacular. The game was changed. A lot of people were scared.
9. My Happy Ending
The best song on Under My Skin. Period. And one of the best Avril Lavigne singles you could ever ask for, taking ninth place with pride. I really think this should have been the lead over Don’t Tell Me. It’s got a huge power to it that a lead single should have. Her vocals are the best kind of nasal on this track and the way she leads you into that chorus is stratospheric every time. The chorus melody is a stone cold classic. “All this time you were pretending / So much for my happy ending”.
8. Losing Grip
If you want to have a multi-platinum selling debut album, then this is how you open it. Losing Grip opens Let Go with a swirling guitar that echoes How Soon Is Now by The Smiths, whirling up an ominous grungy atmosphere for the heaviest cut from Let Go. The chorus is so deliciously heavy. It’s a grunge song Nirvana would have been overjoyed to have written. There’s not much more charming than Avril’s broad Canadian accent on her debut album and every wail and yodelly moment on Losing Grip is perfection. What a track.
7. What The Hell
A kiss off anthem like no other. There is such an unbridled, infectious spirit to What The Hell that I just can’t get enough of. I adored this song so much when it came out and I’ve never once gone off it. It’s energetic, fun, carefree and well written. The prechorus melody that builds up like a steady staircase (“you’re on your knees / begging please / stay with MAY!”) doesn’t once get old. But the shining jewel of What The Hell is the middle eight, with its naughty “I am messing with your head when I’m messing with you in… ALL MY LIFE I’VE BEEN GOOD, BUT NOW!” She sang the girls under the table, no it’s true.
6. Bite Me
Here we go then. Avril Lavigne has signed to Travis Barker’s DTA records, and Bite Me proves she is not here to muck about. Bite Me is the most Avril Lavigne she has sounded in absolutely years – it’s been out for a day and it’s already shot into the sixth best ranked of Avril Lavigne singles. That’s how good it is. It’s addictive, nostalgic and gives your thumb repetitive strain injury from pressing repeat so hard after you’ve listened. In a year of huge rock tunes from Willow Smith and Olivia Rodrigo, Bite Me proves Avril is not only the “motherf*cking princess”, but the motherf*cking queen of this genre. The original and the best. She still has it, in spade loads.
5. When You’re Gone
I can’t remember what breakups felt like in a world without When You’re Gone. Every lyric in this ridiculously huge ballad feels like a sensory overload of emotion. Beds made up on one side, clothes with a familiar smell, you’re right there with Avril in that lonely bedroom thinking about what once was had. It’s hard to remain unmoved with the lethal combo of her gutwrenching lyrics and huge vocals. Sentimental Avril is as resonant as rock chick Avril. Fact.
4. Head Above Water
Head Above Water is an overwhelmingly personal and emotional song detailing the journey Avril Lavigne has been through battling Lyme disease, where she openly said she believed she was going to die and could feel her body shutting down. “I felt like I was drowning. I was going under water and needed to come up for air”. The lyrics centre around Avril pleading to God that she’s too young to die and for her faith to help her stay afloat. It’s heartbreaking to listen to, but the song is spectacular and her vocals have honestly rarely ever sounded better.
3. Sk8er Boi
You’d be hard pressed to find a more iconic and quotable intro to a song in the 2000s than “He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it anymore obvious?” It’s timeless. It’s a noughties fable, a millennial and Gen Z Romeo and Juliet with a Nickelodeon sheen. It’s almost folklore in its storytelling. It’s the rock chick edition of Love Story by Taylor Swift. The iconic bridge of Avril revealing she swiped the Sk8er Boi after the girl turned him down in favour of her friends that hated his baggy clothes is classic. They should make it a film.
Just missing out on the top spot and in second best ranked of Avril Lavigne singles is this CLASSIC. “Laugh out when you strike your POWSE / Take off all your preppy CLOWTHES” – I mean, come on. I am not exaggerating when I say I made loving Complicated my entire personality in the early 2000s. Personal anecdote, but there’s an extremely iconic image of a seven year old me singing karaoke for the first time ever in a crap bar in Cyprus and I’m doing Complicated. Immaculate taste even way back then. Complicated is a coming of age anthem, a wreaking havoc in the shopping mall theme tune and a wearing a tie around your forehead national anthem. So many smart melodic moves in its structure that makes every part of it somehow feel like a chorus. It’s all chorus. It’s all great.
1. I’m With You
I’m With You was Grammy nominated for Song Of The Year and Best Female Pop Vocal, but lost to Dance With My Father Again by Luther Vandross and Beautiful by Christina Aguilera in each category. I hope somebody called the police, because her loss was theft on both counts. I’m With You smashes both out of the water. It’s her best written, best produced and best sang song in her catalogue – a wistful and lonely rock ballad that feels like a drunken walk home after a night out that fell flat. It’s an incredibly mature song for a 16-17 year old to be writing, and if you ever needed proof to show someone that Avril Lavigne is an artist that’s absolutely the real deal, full of raw talent, then play them I’m With You.
The way it starts with the gentle and straightforward “I’m standing on a bridge / I’m waiting in the dark” world builds the song so well, crescendoing in that mammoth “Why is everything so confusing? Maybe I’m just out of my mind” and the famous ‘yeah-ee-yeah” later sampled by Rihanna. It will never be bettered.
Listen to a playlist of all the ranked Avril Lavigne singles here.
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