For the rest of your long life
every time you hear music
it will either only be
Celine Dion or Avril Lavigne.
You CANNOT stop
listening to music.
WHICH ONE DO YOU CHOOSE?
Two Canadian singers with French names–one a specialist in soaring ballads that allow her to fully display the staggering depths of her Quebecois emotions, the other a poppy punkstress who clings to her girlish image even as she hurtles perilously close to 30. As musically dissimilar as their albums may be, they hover together in the same general pop culture atmosphere–both have their vocal fans, but seem defined even more by their MUCH MORE vocal detractors.
Just say the name Celine Dion to some people and they’ll go so far as to fake a kind of epileptic fit at the mere thought of her existence. Her crime being that she creates music so desperately obvious that the scope of its sincere blandness actually becomes offensive. It’s not that it’s soulless, but that it actually attempts to be soulful and–to many listeners–fails on an epic level. Rather than being inauthentic, her issue is that her authenticity is so lame. Except for those whose hearts sincerely connect with her music, it’s less a false note than a note whose unapologetic sentimentality makes you feel itchy.
On the other hand, authenticity has never been an issue with Avril. Right from her first hits, “Sk8ter Boi” and “Complicated”, she’s bore the clear marker of a packaged product–a pop alternative to what was happening in 2002, when Britney and Christina were dominating the pop charts with their unapologetic head cheerleader hotness. She was the cute girl who was too cool to be popular–the one you REALLY had a crush on–because she wasn’t so into her looks and liked to skateboard and get in people’s faces. And then she stayed like that. For a decade. And what was once refreshing and adorable, now seems kinda annoying. Rather than seeming rebellious, her singing an ode to never growing up feels like a sad justification for not making the–admittedly scary–leap into adulthood and the potential irrelevance it may bring.
And while that analysis might seem overly harsh, I say this knowing I choose Avril without even thinking about it. I own her first two albums and though I ignored what followed due to their refusal to express even the slightest hint of growth, I still like them and have been known to bust out my own highly energetic version of “Sk8ter Boi” when the Karaoke gods call for it. I don’t actually hate Celine Dion like so many of her detractors do, but I just don’t feel it like she wants me to, while Avril’s best makes me smile and jump around and feel happy.