We do a lot of ridiculous stuff here at the Sleeping Village--that, I can not deny. However, this mammothian effort on the part of Ancient Hand serves as a response to said frivolity. Nothing--and I mean nothing--is more serious than dissecting, in painstaking detail, the seminal debut of early 2000's pop-punk monarch Avril Lavinge. This, dear readers, is a magnum opus. Also, for the haters: Avril is metal as fuck. There. I said it.
The miniseries before ye is divided into a glorious fifteen parts. Today marks the third installment: "Complicated." If you missed "Losing Grip" or our introductory statement, check 'em out here! - Ed.
Written by: Ancient Hand
Beginning to discuss Avril Lavigne’s masterpiece, “Complicated,” is like choking down a deep breath before taking a plunge into crystal-clear waters…but you can’t get enough air. The fear of doing any form of injustice against what is considered by many to be the punky anthem of their personal revolution in the early 2000’s is indescribably palpable. My palms are sweating at the prospect of causing any offense by what I say-- or, even more frightening-- what I don’t say. That being said, it is too much pressure to place upon myself to expect my discussion of a perfect song to be perfect itself. Perfection does not beget perfection; perfection begets insecurity. Thus, this is an undertaking that I am going to plunge into despite the feeling of my heart pounding upon the walls of my throat.
With no further delays nor introductions left, let us move into this discussion. “Complicated” is exactly what its title describes. In the words of Avril herself on this track: “Uh-huh. That’s the way it is.” Now, songs dissing someone or expressing dislike are nothing original. We’ve had ‘screw you’ songs since soldiers used to march upon the battlefield with drums pounding away. One thing about most of these angry songs is they come across as just that-- angry. Far too often is an angry song delivered in a loud, harsh, and bombastic manner. We get it. You’re mad.
Lavigne, however, went the zen route on this track. As opposed to following up “Losing Grip” with another heavy alt-rock banger, she dials the aggression down quite a bit and the vibes all the way up. “Complicated” is a song about keeping your cool. While in conflict with another person, it is easy for things to become heated and for tempers to be lost; Lavigne takes on the persona of the calm, cool, and collected individual that can withstand betrayal, verbal onslaught, and vehemence with an air of “Okay, but why are you so mad?” The song is as close to a “whatever, dude” mentality as an ‘angry song’ can get.
Lyrically, Lavigne is simply musing over the situation that has transpired between herself and this shape-shifting individual. “Chill out, whatcha yelling for?” she asks after a relaxed introduction that seems to pair guitar twangs with her own highly edited voice making the same noise. Equally as impressive as her ability to withstand anger is her ability to see the situation for what it is: repetitive. We’ve all had someone in our life that we have repeated conflicts with. Whether it’s the same argument over and over again or the same unsaid thoughts in our head that circulate every time we are within speaking distance of that person, we know what kind of relationship Lavigne is discussing here. “Lay back, it’s all been done before,” she tells us as she kicks things up a notch.
“And if you could only let it be, you would see/I like you the way you are/When we’re driving in your car/And you’re talking to me one on one, but you’ve become/Somebody else ‘round everyone else.” A sense of shared universal experience permeates the lyrics of this song. Enjoying someone's company when it’s just the two of you versus when they polymorph into someone you can barely recognize once there are other people around is something I believe any of us with a sizable social circle have encountered. This frustration of wanting to shake the person and yell “YOU”RE FINE AS WHO YOU ARE STOP PRETENDING YOU’RE SOMEONE ELSE” is undeniable. Lavigne obviously expresses her own frustrations on this song, but she does so from an incredibly mature headspace.
Rather than spend the entire song dunking on this person that is frustrating her, she ends up offering her own insights on how to live a fulfilling life that is true to yourself: “Life’s like this, you:/ You fall, and you crawl, and you break, and you take/ What you get, and you turn it into/ Honesty.” Expanding on this idea that dressing yourself up in chameleon “Preppy clothes” is silly, Lavigne makes it clear that honesty is what she wants from this publicly-nameless person.
The last thing that I need to touch on with the song is what we all love about it: the chorus. The repetitive, catchy, undeniable chorus that chilly expresses a shared universal feeling is one of the highlights of this record; it undeniably emphasizes my thesis surrounding this record: we can grow to better understand the world around us through this album. Fortunately, it isn’t hard on the ears either, and this is especially true on this chorus. Avril’s shouty backing vocals that match her croons over slappy drums and crunchy hi-hats is infectious. She handles herself in such a cool manner that it is difficult to see her as an example on how to act in a situation like this. The plucky electric guitars bounce in rhythm with her incredibly original and one-of-a-kind melody.
“Complicated” is a song for the ages, and it is somehow bordered by other songs that have stood the tests of time, change, and taste. “Complicated” is simple in its complication-- it is a song we are lucky to have in our lifetime, and we should revere it for the masterpiece it is.
Tune is next week as we dive deep into the third track on Let Go. That's right: "Sk8er Boi."
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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