erasing clouds

He Is Just Twenty-Three: Reader Rejects Avril's Antics

Dear Matthew Webber,

Here's an extended metaphor of my own: When you were a pirate; or a cute, benign ghost under a white, holy bedsheet; did you ever eat so much of your Halloween candy you made yourself queasy? Did you promise your mother you would stop eating after you ate one last Snickers, but then as soon as she attended to the phantom razor blades in your little brother's Reeses, you gorged one more and two more and three more and eight more and, having never been sated, you regurgitated all that undigested caramel? Surely, you stopped after that, and waited until the next day to eat another Snickers? Or maybe your aversion to Snickers, or to candy bars in general, has outlasted your celebration of All Hallows' Eve? Can you stand to eat a Snickers again, after puking up so many in such a short time?

Well, I've heard that damn "Complicated" song on the radio eight times today, and now I want to spew.

If every radio station in St. Louis is a house, and every time I drive my automobile is a certain October holiday, why must this trick be the only the only treat in my bag? I'll put it to you this way: One bite size Snickers: scrumptious. One vending machine Snickers: a party in your mouth. One king size Snickers: one of your day's three meals. Additional Snickers: gastronomically volatile.

One more spin of "Complicated": a mitigating factor in your temporary insanity defense for a murder you committed.

The one person I want to kill most at the moment is Antonio "LA" Reid, who you wrote [in "She Was Just Seventeen: Avril Lavigne Plays Pixie Pop" in Erasing Clouds #10] executive produced Avril Lavigne's debut album, Let Go. See, the problem is, I can't "let go." Since I'm only in my car for an hour a day, I only want to snack on pop music. I don't want to consume anything that takes the rest of my workday to digest itself out of my head. I don't want to be forced to hear "Complicated" in its entirety when I'm still full from the one listen of the chorus I allowed myself in the morning. I don't want to get sick of this song like I used to make myself get sick on Halloween candy. But ever since LA "discovered" her, hooked her up with hot producers, and pushed her single into heavy rotation on radio and MTV, it's like everyone's out to get me fat on Snickers.

My reduced-Avril diet consisted of my changing the station any time "Complicated" came on. The diet failed because I was too tempted to snack on the first verse - and more so because the song would often be playing on the next station I selected.

My Avril starvation diet (listening to albums instead of the radio) failed because I sometimes go to malls and stores and restaurants that play pop music and ergo, that damn song.

Tasteless, invisible, and like "How You Remind Me" before it, "Complicated" has seeped into our ground water, poisoning us.

The symptoms of this poison are spreading. Some people, like you in your article, actually claim to like "Complicated." How the hell is this even possible anymore? To me, such a claim is as ludicrous as liking anything off Alanis Morrisette's first album, as impossible as thinking Nelly's "Hot in Herre" is as dope as you did the first nine hundred and seventy-six times you heard it, as enjoying Big Macs when you're old enough to know and care what they're made of. It's always spin #977 that pushes me over a ledge, to a suicide jump or a drive off a cliff - as my car rolls and flips and finally catches fire, my radio melts to this peppy, perky poesy. "Why'd ya have to" Boom! "and make things so Com-" Kablooey!!! We fall and we crawl and we break. If I say I hate this song I have to fake it.

Fine. "Complicated" is catchy. But haven't you and other mainstream media outlets such as MTV and Rolling Stone noticed how annoying Avril is? If I saw her pulling the kind of shit she pulls in the "Complicated" video - skateboarding and running through the mall, jumping out of a department store clothes rack to give some shopper a heart attack - I'd telephone her parents and demand she be spanked. Or else I'd punch her in her cute, little teeth. (If the case went to trial, I've already planned my defense.) She must get her ass kicked a lot - but she does! She told Rolling Stone she likes to get into fights - charming! I could respect her if she had a clue what she was saying, but like you pointed out, she's only seventeen! She spells the word "boys" with an "I"!!!!!!

She's a brat.

She's such a trend that you must have been being ironic in your failing to mention it.

She wears skateboarding clothes - that form-fit to her body. (Hot!) She wears a necktie around her neck - in an obvious attempt to differentiate her style from the thousands of other girls her age, skateboarders or not, who buy these kinds these kinds of clothes from mall stores. (Hip!) She's different from the Britney brand of Pop Star - which you and she have frequently pointed out - but only in that she plays a guitar. (Talented!) Both are sexy, in an underage kind of way - AND AS YOU YOURSELF SAY IN YOUR ARTICLE, this is the number one reason she got a recording contract. (Duh!)

You play the guitar and write songs. Thousands of other people play the guitar and write songs. LA isn't throwing a music deal at you or these others because you're not seventeen-year-old girls with blue eyes. A video starring you wouldn't be able to move as many allowance-bought units. Other artists cannot possibly be spun off of you, unless they're artists who already do what you do - which is look like a normal person (not hot) and write songs that you probably like more than anybody else who hears them (neither hip nor talented). Duh.

That she co-writes her songs is dubious; that her songs sound so pristine suggests she's more "co" than "writer." After all, doesn't even Britney herself have a few co-songwriting credits to her name? Couldn't any old monkey at any old typewriter write lyrics to rock the hottest producers' hottest beats? Isn't the production really what people are listening to nowadays? How else to explain the success of the Irv Gotti-produced Ashanti and the Timberland-produced Tweet? And people say the Monkees monkeyed around!

Avril might have more input into her music than her peers, but I'd still take the Open Mic Night Challenge anytime. If, on her acoustic guitar, away from her producer-assigned band, she sounded like the most talented songwriter since, oh, Joni Mitchell, it still doesn't cancel out reason number one why she, instead of you, has a recording contract. (She's scorchin'!) While you were correct to write she's not as vacant as Britney, it's not like she's actually a genius. You and everybody else in the media should quit giving her so much exposure - because eight repetitions of a song in one day is more promotion than an artist dropped from her label in the past year like, oh, Tori Amos, can afford.

I wonder when you wrote your article. How many times had you heard "Complicated" then: 6 or 666? Now that you've heard it somewhere in the triple digits, would you still claim to like it? Have you changed your mind about her after learning her ingredients, much like your vegetarian friends now refuse to eat Big Macs? Or do you still consume her songs like you consume Quarter Pounders, knowing they'll kill you, but they taste so good?!

(Radio programmers, please note: McDonald's is good, but not eight times a day. Junk food is best as the occasional treat. More than one Snickers is really just overkill.)

Every time I hear Avril speak, I like her as an artist a little bit less. Every time she opens her mouth, I'm one word closer to despising her.

In conclusion, I know it's neither popular nor easy to like a song by an artist you don't respect. (Example: I can't get enough of that new Creed song.) Nowhere in this letter did I reveal how much I love singing along to the goddamn thing.

Now, why'd she have to go and make things all complicated?


Matthew Webber

E-mail me your questions, suggestions, comments, etc. at

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