Avril Lavigne is one of the most fascinating figures in pop music right now. First with “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” then with “17,” and now with “Rock N Roll,” her latest album era hinges upon her stubborn refusal to behave like an adult. Each new song functions as another layer to this weird, self-directed portrait of her arrested development as told through really great pop songs. It’s like the strangest, least self-conscious performance art project ever.
I mean, the music aside, consider the laughable self-seriousness of Avril getting married to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger in a black dress, holding black roses. Avril Lavigne in 2013 is like a parody of what the world imagined Avril Lavigne in 2013 would be like back in 2003. Is she a lunatic? A genius? Actually, it doesn’t really matter.
So! That brings me to “Rock N Roll,” the second single from her as-yet-untitled forthcoming fifth studio album, and it’s deliriously, thrillingly wonderful, maybe even better than “Here’s To Never Growing Up” (which was my personal pick for song of the summer). It’s a little shouty and bratty like “Sk8er Boi” or “Girlfriend,” and not quite as sweet as “Growing,” but with a pop chorus that’s absolutely jaw-dropping and 100% sincere. I’ll excerpt it here for your consideration:
“When it’s you and me, we don’t need no one to tell us who to be / We keep turning up the radio / When it’s you and I, just put up our middle finger to the sky / Let ‘em know that we’re still rock n roll.”
There’s also these elements: A stomp-stomp-clap loop that shamelessly apes Queen‘s ”We Will Rock You” (or maybe it’s shamelessly aping One Direction‘s “Rock Me,” which shamelessly apes Queen’s “We Will Rock You” — pop is meta); strategically placed gang vocals; Lavigne lambasting “hipster bullshit”; and a post-chorus “Hey!” hook so catchy it’s effectively burning holes in your brain.
“Rock N Roll” was produced by Max Martin with writing credits from Lavigne and Kroeger alongside Dr. Luke protege Jacob Kasher, David Hodges from Evanescence and Peter Svensson from The Cardigans (which makes it a funny marriage of execrable alt-rock pedigree and genius pop pedigree, which is probably why it’s so nuttily great).
The song also feels like solid proof that Avril Lavigne is completely insane. I mean, what self-respecting grown woman would keep beating the dead horse of her arrested development with such fury? But Avril’s sanity hardly feels germane. If she wants to do her makeup like a Suicide Girl, swathe herself in black tulle and skateboard through a French castle with her goateed d-bag husband, that’s fine. Just keep making music this great.
Avril Lavigne — “Rock N Roll”