Is Avril Lavigne happy with her life?

The ‘American Idol’ guest judge counsels a pastor with three young children on the perils of pop stardom

by Aaron Wherry

Herein, the third in a semi-regular series chronicling the ninth season of American Idol. You can read the first instalment here and the second instalment here.

Wednesday night’s episode of American Idol, covering auditions in Los Angeles, was largely unremarkable, save for what might’ve been the most profound moment in Avril Lavigne’s public life to date.

In the lead-up to Ellen DeGeneres’ arrival as Idol‘s fourth judge (replacing the famously incoherent Paula Abdul), the early episodes of this season have featured a series of celebrity guest jurors. Wednesday night’s duties were split between Katy Perry’s cleavage and Lavigne. Perry’s cleavage proved a fair and constructive critic, but it was Lavigne who managed to introduce to the Idol paradigm an entirely original meditation on the precedence and value of the family unit in Western civilization.

We were first introduced to Jim Ranger, a hairy, bearded worship pastor and family man with three young children. He proceeded to sing, not badly, a song he had written himself. Randy asked Simon for his opinion. Simon deemed Ranger’s voice to be “authentic.” Randy asked Lavigne. She was apparently conflicted.

“You know, you have three children and you’re a pastor,” she observed. “To become a pop star, you know, you have to travel and you have to leave everything. It’s difficult out there on the road. But I do think that you have a good voice.”

When asked for her verdict, Lavigne responded in the negative. “I’m sorry I think I have to say no,” she said.

Kara, apparently seeing something in Lavigne’s argument, expressed some trepidation, but ultimately said yes, joining Randy and Simon to advance Ranger to the next round. Mr. Ranger celebrated excitedly.

There are perhaps two ways to look at this.

1. Avril Lavigne, a girl from a small town in eastern Ontario who sang in the church, who signed a record deal at 16, became a global pop star by the age of 18, was on the cover of Rolling Stone before she could legally consume alcohol in Canada, married her rock star boyfriend before her 22nd birthday, had divorced her rock star husband by the age of 25, at some point befriended Paris Hilton and showed up for the taping of this episode, at the age of 26, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with devil horns, is nearly the last person on earth who should be deciding who is and is not capable of maintaining a normal life while pursuing pop stardom.

2. Avril Lavigne, a girl from a small town in eastern Ontario who sang in the church, who signed a record deal at 16, became a global pop star by the age of 18, was on the cover of Rolling Stone before she could legally consume alcohol in Canada, married her rock star boyfriend before her 22nd birthday, had divorced her rock star husband by the age of 25, at some point befriended Paris Hilton and showed up for the taping of this episode, at the age of 26, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with devil horns, is precisely the person to be warning others about the potential perils of pop stardom.

The first option is possibly more ripe for mockery, but also, somehow, less plausible. However emotionally stunted Lavigne may otherwise be as a result of her early accomplishment in the entertainment industry—even by generous standards, the devil-horned hooded-sweatshirt should probably not be worn by anyone over the age of 21 who wishes to be taken seriously as a human being—she seemed genuinely concerned by Jim Ranger’s situation. Or at least the concern seemed too odd to be contrived. And while a deluded pop star might not have noticed the irony of her concern, a truly deluded pop star probably wouldn’t have cared enough in the first place to say so.

So maybe the second option makes more sense. Maybe she meant it. And maybe she knew of what she spoke. And maybe she is one of those few who can know what that life is actually like to live.

Unfortunately, if all that is true then the unavoidable conclusion would seem to be that Avril Lavigne is sort of sad. Or at least that she hasn’t always been all that happy, that she has struggled with her life as we’ve known it. This is maybe not all that surprising. In fact, it’s impossible to believe she hasn’t struggled. But it is still sort of heartbreaking to see it vaguely implied on national television under the guise of warning another human being against pursuing her line of work, lest he somehow damage what she perhaps sees as an already rewarding, or at least important, life. It is entirely possible, in this scenario, that Avril Lavigne sort of envies Jim Ranger.

Granted, it is possible to over-think this. But if one of the defining pop stars of the last decade has just conceded that stardom should not necessarily be the ultimate and all-consuming goal in the life of the vocally talented, then this truly is the end of American Idol.

Is Avril Lavigne happy with her life?

  1. I don't know if the autor of the article will read this but I have to say that Avril had a very bad moment in her live while she was 19 year olds, you just have to listen her second album to know it. You know, I'm 17, I already sing in front of 400 peoples and seriously this is the maximum of stress I can take in one day. I don't think her clothes are really something to fix on it because she's having a contract with Kohl's to do publicity for her clothing line. She have to wear it when she do public appearance. But you know, I don't think she is sad but what she said is true. This life seems to be really difficult and you have to be ready because you have to go over yourself everyday and everytime.

    I'm not an expert but I think what she said is a smart comment. It's better to prevent somebody …

    Sorry for my english, I try to do my best ^^

    • You know, everyone goes through a tough period at some point. This is one of two things: 1. Teen angst or 2. Life. Either way, we all go through it for one reason or another, don't think that depression and stress only hits you. It may be tough and stressful to sing in front of people, but then again, if you choose to stand up and perform, that's a decision you've made, and you should not expect sympathy for it.
      As for the Kohl's clothing line… she alledgedly designs the clothes herself, so she knows how it looks. Even if she only picks out the print or the general style, she basically knows what it being put out there. If she wants to be taken seriously as an adult and not look like a 16-year old who just raided Hot Topic, she should have thought it through, before she signed the contract.

      But maybe she was right. After all, she knows what it's like being a pop star. But then again, she's there to judge his singing, not his abilities to cope with a new lifestyle. Besides, he's much older than her and much more mature by far, so he would probably be more able to handle the newfound success than a young, immature girl.

  2. Since Ms. lavigne doesn't have children, it is possible she is content with her current and past life but would not recommend it for a parent.

  3. Why would you come down on Avril for putting some thought into what she's doing, and for showing some empathy for this man and his family? For some unknown reason, in this country we like to trash our succesful entertainers. Then later, at some point, they become legends. Over the past 40 years I've seen this phenomenen repeated over and over with Anne Murray, Dan Hill, The Guess Who, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Neil Young, Avril Lavigne, and on and on.

    I like Avril. She's very talented, beautful and sexy. Give her a break!

    • My lord, are you seriously comparing Avril Lavigne to, among other Canadian musical institutions, Anne Murrary, The Guess Who, and Neil Young? And to top it off, you call her "a lgend?" Good sir, it might be wise to reconsider the class of company to which you place Ms. Lavigne; rather than these Canadian legends (and like them or not, they are legends), a more apt group in which to place Ms. Lavigne would likely be the Mickey Mouse club. At least her writing and performing skills would be on par with that group.

      • You may want to re-read my comment. I didn't call Avril a "legend", but she is well on her way to becoming one. And you are makinh my point exactly. You are trashing Avril! At her tender young age she has already had several top selling CDs, number one singles, been featured in movies and on TV, and won Juno awards. Unlike her contemporaries (Spears, Lady Ga Ga, Aguilera, etc) Avril can actually sing, and she writes her own songs. She doesn't rely on technical enhancement, performing near naked, complex dance routines, or outrageous oufits. The funny thing is that if she was from Australia or Great Britain, you would probably be singing her praises.

      • go fuck yourself, avril lavigne has an aweaome voice and her songs and her singing saved my life. watch what you are saying.

  4. Wait…. who trashes Anne Murray? So help me, I will find those people and kick their asses.

  5. According to Variety, the punk-pop princess has landed a track, "Alive Underground", on Tim Burton's upcoming re-make of "Alice in Wonderland". It has been rumored that Lavigne's first single from her fourth studio album will…

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  6. You make a great point! I thought her comments were very very ODD!!! , She seemed to be an LA stuck up woman, I am an Avril Fan but i think she has changed greatly.

  7. Just the way she talked and some small things she said , she did not come across as a nice person on the show,,,,,,and then we had KATY! ….. well she was truly horrible!! Kara should have stood up and said something. However I guess thats not the American way. to be truthful.

  8. You make some good points in this article, Aaron.

    I also feel that Avril was speaking from her heart to that wannabe pop star preacher. Having come from a conservatively Christian home, her knee-jerk reaction was to deplore the loss to a congregation, of a fine Pastor, who appears to be willing to exchange his present family & professional life, for the uncertainties of a career in Pop Music.

    Another thing, I have never seen Avril chewing gum in public….and yet, there she was, chewing away, a mile a minute.
    I feel that is indicative of her inherent shyness, and her discomfort at finding herself sitting behind that judge's table.

    I don''t think Avril is an unhappy person. She has dreamed of being a popular entertainer, ever since being a little girl, and is consequently doing exactly what she wants to do.

  9. Maybe Avril is of the opinion that you can be a pop star or a parent and not both.
    Chantal Kreviazuk is of the came opinion and she writes songs for Lavigne
    Kreviazuk said that she used to aspire to being #1 but then she realized that you can't be #1 at both at once, something has to suffer. Lavigne may not have kids but she knows what its like to be a pop star and she knows other pop stars with children.

  10. Avril is nothing more than a pop star, throw her into the same category as the other pop stars who will for the most part be forgotten. Her "music" was overplayed, really has no staying power or substance yet she is qualified to be a judge? The only judge who I consider effective at judging is Simon and Randy( sort of). Kara is uneventful and very similar to Paula was – without the verbal diarrhea. But Avril or a Jonas, are you kidding? Having judges with nothing more than celebrity status or money to measure as worthiness makes American Idol more about ratings and less about talent.
    Who is Avril to judge based on personal circumstances rather than his ability to perform?
    Avril lavigne, the moral compass by which we should live? ha ha ha

    • Who are you to say that a young woman who's first album sold 17 million copies and actually has talent (whether you like her or not….you cant deny talent) is not qualified to judge a cimpetition basd on HER LINE OF WORK? And to say that she will be forgotten? Thats funny. SHe broke records set by Elvis and Madonna, and she wont be remembered? LIKE HELL!

  11. I am glad to see this back, I especially like reading it after The Commons.

  12. Avril was right and obviously considering the possibilities and happiness of pastor Jim Ranger, a married man with 3 children, given his unlikely possibility of winning down the road.

    Most pop stars make it before they are married or have children. They are usually young and attractive. They don't have baggage. They are able to be taken over completely by an agent, manager, record label, etc. The pastor came with obvious baggage.

    I didn't see this particular show and I'm not an Avril fan (I'm too old to like her music) but I would suggest that as a successful Canadian and international star, Avril knows what she's doing. She knows what works, what will sell, what will get in the way.

    It is irrelvant whether or not Avril is happy in her present life. She became a star at a young age, succeded over many years, and has survived personal failure in the relationship department …as have Shania, Anne Murray, Sarah McLaughlin, and most other music stars in Canada.

    Avril is probably at the height of her stardom/ability. I'm sure she's a good judge of her type of music and perhaps other styles.

  13. "It is entirely possible, in this scenario, that Avril Lavigne sort of envies Jim Ranger."

    Overthink indeed. Barren chick wearing devil horns looking for any excuse handy to vote off the family man preacher, that's all there is here.

    The barren chicks will back Avril, the non-barren non-chicks won't, aforementioned chicks being too young to remember a time when women were routinely denied jobs for this very reason. History repeating itself the second time as a farce, some might say.

    If a man had vetoed a woman for having too many kids and being too married, whilst wearing devil horns, it would have been the end of his career, which makes Avril's remarks all the more disappointing..

    • Idiot.

  14. As a regular viewer of American Idol I was highly offended by both guest hosts that night…I took it one way and one way only…Lavigne is a typical leftist progressive wanna be Christian hater. No surprise there. She fits right in with her piers in Hollywood. She made lots of points that night..Very unimpressive. I'm disappointed in Idol for hiring her though. I hope they haven't decided to forego the talent for cheap slutty shock value like so many other network programs have. As far as the other bimbo twat host that night, Katy something or other…she is clearly on a one way street to shit town. A totally self-centered a-hole spoiled rotten bitch. People kissing her ass every minute of the day. No empathy, no compassion for anyone but herself. Always looking for a camera or a mirror to flash her fake rubber tits into. A complete narcissistic psychopath smart mouthed wise-ass. No hope for a chick like that. She'll end up alone by the time she turns 30, a toothless old booze hag working the alleys behind the Vegas Strip blowing sailors for spare change and candy bars till they find her wrinkled old ass laying shot out in a luke warm motel bathtub holding an empty bottle of Thunderbird and a half a box of razor blades….Just like Pamela Anderson…..So who's the guest host next week?

  15. Dude. Avril Lavigne is a christian, started her singing IN CHURCH. Do your homework before you make ridiculus comments.

  16. That has to be one of the most moronic rants I've read in a while. You have no clue what you are talking about.

  17. I agree. A little intense! Did someone get rejected by Katy Perry or something?

  18. Well I can only conclude since she BELONGS to her so-called Manager and has sold her soul to him along with her label-mates, she doesn’t have much of her own life left. No wonder she dressed the way she did. Evil begets evil. Doubt she wanted to be there. You know? You do what you gotta do after you sign on the bottom line. Or else . . . Hello, starfish, hello seahorses :( .

  19. I had never paid any attention to Taylor Swift until her recent Grammy duet with Stevie Nicks showed the world she cannot sing. Seems everyone has known it for years in Nashville and the evidence is in every live performance video of her on Youtube.

    At the same time as I'm amazed at how much money Swift's record label has made despite their star's inability to sing this situation has prompted me to reconsider Avril Lavigne a bit. I remember Lavigne having a nice voice for country, which is what she sang before a record label took over her life and made her yet another generic pop act.

    Maybe if she'd grown up in her home-town, closer to her family and faith, we'd be hearing her today as an admirable country music talent. Seems the record industry may have messed up not only the lives of two young women, but, reduced their cultural relevance at the same time.

  20. *-* AVRIL IS PERFECT <3

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