Avril Lavigne Rocks Out (Sort Of) On Amazing New Pop Single “Rock N Roll”

Sam Lansky | July 19, 2013 6:53 am

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.”

Legitimately beyond.

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 KasherDavid 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”