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 fourth installment: "Sk8er Boi." If you missed "Complicated" or our introductory statement, check 'em out here! - Ed.
Written by: Ancient Hand
In the nearly-wholly and disappointingly misguided series finale of the critical darling and money-printing Game of Thrones, we are treated to a monologue from fan-favorite character, Tyrion Lannister. In his monologue, Tyrion discusses the importance of good stories. To many, this was a snide and woefully misplaced self-congratulatory pat on the back for and from the show writers. To others, this was a concession of sorts, detailing the importance of the story itself--not just the disappointing ending. Snide or sorrowful, this monologue does raise some good points. Stories take on a life of their own and can often not be destroyed by anything: man, machine, or …meme.
Avril Lavigne’s profound and prophetic story of the titular "Sk8er Boi" and his numerous female counterparts is the definition of a good story. A good story has many definitions from many different scholars that believe they are the final intellectual to serve the grisly details on what makes the best hero’s journey, or how these specific famous characters from world fiction are the most relatable and original. At the end of the day, though, a good story is simply one that makes the audience feel. I doubt this is something many people would argue with, and I feel comfortable using it as the definition for a good story in the remainder of this review. Stories make people feel in all sorts of ways-- some use spectacle, some use terror, some use sorrow, some use forceful and attention-grabbing imagery, and the list goes on. Our Queen of Music, Avril Lavigne, utilizes multiple storytelling strategies in her conceptual-chart topping single, “Sk8er Boi.”
With any conceptual song, it can be difficult to make it palpable for the public. Artists are often forced to sacrifice either listenability or the song’s story. Lavigne sacrifices neither. Rather, she opts to use one storytelling technique that is both rarely used and utterly shocking: a change in perspective. The introductory verse to the hymn introduces the characters in legendary fashion (He was a boy/ She was a girl/ Can I make it anymore obvious?) Lavigne simultaneously points out the repetitive nature of this story. We have two people on either end of the gender binary. Can you guess what’s going to happen? Yeah, probably. But just wait-- because the rest of what we have is going to blow your mind. Lavigne follows this up by describing the tale of a sk8er boi who is attempting to woo a ballet dancer that is perceived to be out of his league due to their differences in presenting themselves (he wears baggy clothes). Thus, she says “see you later” to our titular character, and pursues a life that ends up leaving her totally unfulfilled. She later sees him rockin’ up MTV, and she decides to tag along with her previously pompous friends that stuck their noses up at the sk8er boi. Together, they look up at his performance. Lavigne takes us through the catchy and irresistible chorus once again before totally changing the perspective of the song, offering both shock value and an “A-HAH” moment.
The bridge of the song shows us that the point of this epic tale is not just to show us the incredible mistake one ballet girl made; it is to show the incredibly bright and joyful decision Lavigne herself made! “Well tough luck, that boy’s mine now” Lavigne sings in a moment that goes down as one of the most shocking and imperative moments in musical history. The remainder of the song is an earned braggadocious moment where Lavigne takes a victory lap, proclaiming her love, happiness, and creative fulfillment with her partner.
“I see the man that boi could be/ There is more than meets the eye/ I see the soul that is inside/ He’s just a boy, and I’m just a girl/ Can I make it any more obvious?/ We are in love; haven’t you heard.../ How we rock each other’s WORLD?” We get a final, slightly different chorus. The main hook remains the same, but the added vocal lines between the iconic refrain is about Lavigne meeting her new boyfriend at the studio, where they plan on writing the song about the girl he “used to know.” This twist is one of the greatest in musical history. The transparency and absolute pride found in the song pretty clearly contrasts the laid-back, chill vibe of “Complicated,” where Lavigne took a more apathetic and laid-back approach. You may ask--why? Well, obviously, it’s because the sk8er boi is worth it! He is worth putting up a fight for; he is worth holding up like a trophy and being cherished!
Before I conclude this chapter with one of the most key aspects of the song, I would like to briefly (and passionately) discuss the auditory side of this song, as this is a music review. This song uses catchy and grinding guitar leads that wail out in short bursts followed by groovy strumming. These guitar portions, paired with simple and fuzzy scales, are placed in front of drumming that takes it’s time to shine in the transitional moments of the song (the pre-chorus and bridge in particular). The chorus makes use of stacking Lavigne’s vocals to the high heavens, eliciting the image of an arena filled with people singing this song. The verses follow Lavigne herself, making it clear that this is her song, and her talent is more than enough to hold the song up. The bridge of the track makes use of fascinating record scratches, melodic riffs, slightly reverbed vocals, drum fills, and plucky guitars. We are then treated to a final run of the chorus, which I previously described. These auditory tracks all come together to form a glorious anthem of the ages, one that has stuck in the minds of listeners for nearly two decades now. While much of this chapter focused on the storytelling aspect of this song, its audio counterparts are not to be underestimated.
On a final note of storytelling, “Sk8er Boi” does one thing that many modern stories seem afraid to do: it offers not just an engaging and emotional sleigh ride of a story. “Sk8er Boi” also offers an ample amount of ambiguity that makes it applicable to people of any number of races, sexualities, and backgrounds. While we are given the gender identity of the sk8er boi himself, Lavigne’s identity is easily replaceable with your own! You can be WITH the SK8ER BOI! An opportunity that Lavigne herself describes as an experience that can “Rock” your “WORLD!” And this sk8er boi himself… why was he looked down upon by the ballet girl and her friends? Simply because of fashion choices? Could it have been his race? His socioeconomic status? YOU, listener, are called upon to fill in the blanks with the backgrounds of your choice, culminating in either a simple love story with a twist… or… an engaging tale of overcoming societal bonds that tether you to a reality that you are not satisfied with. The choice is yours.
Tune in next week as we dive deep into the fourth track on Let Go: the understated "I'm With You."
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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