Avril Lavigne fans expecting something different from her third album, The Best Damn Thing, shouldn’t hold their breath. Lavigne has somehow managed to milk a third installment of the “I’m so sassy and punk rock” gig, shifting from dark and angst-ridden to saccharine and cutesy. Either way, the album is a continuation of everything she’s done before – only worse. The Best Damn Thing kicks off with “Girlfriend,” a single that was annoyingly catchy in English, and unnecessarily recorded in seven other languages – French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese. The song features a breakdown part reminiscent of the ’80s classic “Mickey,” but isn’t carried out as well as some of Lavinge’s counterparts have done in the past (Think Gwen Stefani chanting (‘B-A-N-A-N-A-S’).
The cheerleader motif doesn’t stop at the first single – she carries it over to two additional songs on the album, including “I Can Do Better” and the title track, “The Best Damn Thing.” The title track features Lavigne singing a sort of chant that spells out her name – AVRIL – in case you didn’t quite catch who she was the first time around.
During “I Can Do Better,” Lavigne has a similar breakdown to that of “Girlfriend,” but instead of singing the track, Lavigne can be heard somewhat screaming many of the lyrics, adding to the already unpleasant barrage of noise that comprises the song. Of course, there are also the two quintessential ballads: “When You’re Gone” and “Keep Holding On.” These two songs are the generic form of the “I need you” song, and the “I’ll be there for you when you’re sad and lonely song.” Neither of the tracks are remarkable and can be easily forgotten, as is the case with roughly 11 of the 12 tracks on the album.
What doesn’t stand out on her album as being annoying or clichÃ© is either completely bland or simply boring. Most of the songs are nearly identical to many of her past hits, such as “One of Those Girls,” which seems to be based on the same girl that inspired “Sk8r Boi,” one of the hits from her debut album, Let Go.
Lavigne has also failed to pick up a few tips at songwriting school, as she has once again failed to pen a genuinely well-written song. While the line in Let Go’s “Complicated” was already considered to be a true gem – “You’re trying to be cool / you like a fool to me” – a line in “Girlfriend” tops them all -“She’s like so whatever / you can do so much better.” How clever. She even contradicts herself in the lyrics of her songs. During “I Don’t Have to Try,” she sassily boasts that she “wears the pants,” yet a few tracks before that in “The Best Damn Thing,” she sings: “I hate it when a guy doesn’t get the tab / and I have to pull my money out / and that looks bad.” As a seemingly confident female, one would think Lavigne wouldn’t care what others would think if she picked up the tab.
For an artist who attacked all other female pop acts when establishing her career, Lavigne has failed to grow as an artist and create something truly innovative. Artists she once criticized – such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera – have all expanded on their original sugary sweet sound, while Lavigne has only managed to re-release her first album twice with different titles.
Lavigne’s initial attempt at the pop-punk sound may have been successful and may have even sustained some semblance of a career for her the second time around. On the third try, though, her album just sounds like a horrendous repetition of her first two attempts – without the growth or maturity that some may expect from an artist completing their third album. Sorry, Avril, but The Best Damn Thing is anything but.