So I see a news blurb on my landing page that Avril Lavigne has a new record out. I don’t know much about Avril other than a vague recollection of “Skater Boy,” but it is my first inclination to root for her. She’s got SASS and it seems genuine and I think that has a lot to do with why she appealed to her core young audience.
So like the rest of the planet, I put the single “What the Hell” into YouTube just to see what’s happenin. Here’s this kid in her underwear, in bed with her boyfriend, and in the opening lyric she admits to “making out with his friend.” Brat!! I wouldn’t really mind any of that in and of itself, however when the hook comes (this is kiddie pop, there are always tasty hooks), some jackass producer (an Internet search leads me to believe that Max Martin produced this track in Sweden, but I have not confirmed this as fact) buries Avril’s voice in autotune so deep she becomes unrecognizable. Not that I didn’t hear it during the verses, but the hook was just drowning in it. The first few vocal notes of the chorus are all A above middle C, but then there is a run up and back down (A, B, C#, D, C#, B, A) that doesn’t even sound computer “corrected,” it sounds computer generated—it surely doesn’t sound remotely human.
To me, bratty and rebellious implies honesty. I know that is horribly idealistic, but I feel cheated by Avril here. Not by RCA/Sony who obviously couldn’t give a shit, but by the artist herself who could have done better. Would The Clash or The Sex Pistols have used autotune? I am sure their producers would have—but the spirit of the music gets lost completely and I had this fantasy that Avril cared. Bummer—I guess not. If you are going to write a song called “What the Hell” and flip the camera (and the world) the double bird in your video, have the friggin balls to sing your own damn melody.