Avril Lavigne's 'Let Go' Is Turning 20. What Do Teens Make of It Today?

Th album that birthed "Complicated" is two decades old this year.
Avril Lavigne Let Go 20 Years Later Complicated Sk8er Boi
All photos: Izzy Copestake

Millennials are obsessed with Avril Lavigne's debut album Let Go. Play “Complicated” and they will come running, out of nowhere, whispering “uh huh, uh huh… and life's like this”. And if you grew up in the 2000s, chances are you at one point owned a weird sock arm and those chunky belts with the spikes.

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Let Go is now two decades old. Sorry to rub it in, but I had been alive for one year when Let Go came out, on the 4th of June, 2002. However, despite only just learning how to swallow solid food, even I know the impact the self-proclaimed rock chick had on anyone who fancied themselves a bit of a rebel, but liked a good poppy chorus at the same time. 

As one of the most iconic albums of the millennium turns 20, I started wondering if any of these tracks have stood the test of time. Teens today like Olivia Rodrigo, after all, and Urban Outfitters is positively swimming in low-waisted combat trousers. But what do they think about “Sk8er Boi” or some of the more emotional moments, like “I’m With You?”

I went and tracked some teens down in the street to find out.

Jacqueline, 18: ‘It’s a banger to be fair’

A teenager listening to Avril Lavigne in 2022

VICE: Hey Jacqueline, what kind of music are you into?
Jacqueline: I listen to like, some alternative stuff. I’m kind of into everything but I know everyone says that. I guess Arctic Monkey, the Black Keys… that kinda stuff.

Arctic Monkeys are class – so, heavy on guitar?
You could say that.

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This has a good bit of guitar, what do you think? [plays “Sk8er Boi”]
It sounds like the kind of stuff I used to listen to in high school. It’s a banger to be fair.

If it came out now, would you listen to it?
Maybe, but it would be a bit random…

Patrick, 19: ‘She has the sad bangers’

A teenager listening to Avril Lavigne in 2022

VICE: Would you consider yourself punk?
Patrick:
That’s not the first thing I’d think of when I think of myself.

It’s more punk to tell people you’re not punk than to sit there and say that you’re punk, right?
I suppose there’s some truth in that.

What do you normally listen to?
I really love Grimes. My favourite song is “Genesis”. But I really like acoustic stuff too. I adore Joni Mitchell. They’d be my two favourite artists.

Are you a fan of Avril Lavigne?
I’d say all of those artists actually have elements of Avril Lavigne in one way or another. Grimes is Canadian as well and she’s massively successful, just like Avril Lavigne. I just love female Canadian artists. I’d say Grimes is similar because I think they were both very experimental for their time. I guess Avril was experimental in a different way – by being emo and punk.

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So you are a fan! Can I play you a song? Let’s listen to “Complicated.”
Nooo, can we listen to a different one? I like her sad songs.

What do you want to listen to?
“I’m With You”. I always listen to this one, it’s really sad.

Why do you like it so much?
Just because it’s really sad. A lot of people wrongly believe that her music’s really upbeat but there’s actually a lot of depth to this one. She has the sad bangers. It’s beautiful. She’s having a cold night and she’s depressed but she’s with this guy and outlining the struggles of her relationship.

Some serious emo shit.
You’re right.

Michael, 18: ‘I don’t think this would survive right now’

A teenager listening to Avril Lavigne in 2022

VICE: What kind of music do you like, Michael?
Michael: Hip hop and rap. YoungBoy.

Ever heard of Avril Lavigne?
Yes, I have actually. I don’t know anything about her – I just know her name.

Okay, well let me show you this song, “Complicated.”
Hmm guitars… strumming… okay… drums. I never usually analyse music like this. Was this viral?

I guess it got pretty big on TikTok recently.
It’s alright.

If you got passed the aux would you ever play it?
If I knew the lyrics, yeah. It’s a goofy meme. My guys like the odd goofy song, init. It’s not our niche but it’s still music you know?

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Does it sound like it could come out today?
No. I don’t think this would survive right now. What’s trending right now is like, Dua Lipa and that kind of shit. Maybe she was the Dua Lipa back then.

Beth, 19: ‘It’s definitely not what I would usually listen to’

A teenager listening to Avril Lavigne in 2022

Hi, Beth. Would you ever listen to pop-punk?
To be honest, yeah. I think the only thing I wouldn’t listen to is, like, heavy metal.

What do you think of “Losing Grip?”
It’s definitely not what I would usually listen to. I love “Sk8r Boi” and “Complicated”, though.

Fair enough!

Floris, 16: ‘Got that romantic 2000s feel to it’

A teenager listening to Avril Lavigne in 2022

VICE: Hey, what kind of music do you usually listen to?
Floris: A big mixture. A lot of rap, but also some of my dad’s stuff from the 70s, like Pink Floyd.

Ever heard of Avril Lavigne?
I only really know “Sk8er Boi”.

That seems to be a common theme. What do you think of this lesser known track “Tomorrow?”
It’s nice… kind of mellow, I guess. Got that romantic 2000s feel to it.

Is it Y2K enough to make a comeback like low-waisted jeans?
Yeah, I’d say so. It probably could be released today.

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Would you ever play it if you got given the aux?
Maybe. I’d depend what kind of friends I’m around though.

Kate, 19: ‘Lots of people dressed up as her for Halloween last year’

Lots of people dressed up as her for Halloween last year

VICE: What are your thoughts on Avril Lavigne?
Kate: So, I’m from Canada, so if she’s going to be big anywhere it’d be there. People still listen to her stuff a lot there – but a lot more her old stuff than her new stuff.

Would you say there’s still a pretty solid fanbase there then?
Um… not a crazy one, that I’m aware of. But we’d definitely listen to her songs as more of a throwback. Lots of people dressed up as her for Halloween last year, for some reason.

I guess that’s pretty easy now with the Y2K revival in fashion.
Yeah, all of those styles are coming back now. She’s definitely popping up more than she would have done before. I only really know her major songs though.

What do you think of “Tomorrow”?
I like it. I like the vibe of her music a lot. It’s different to the rest of her music that I’ve heard, it’s slower – but in a nice way. A good change. I think I’d probably listen to it again.

@izzy_copestake