Thursday, April 24, 2014

Avril Lavigne Releases "Hello Kitty" Video Before Tour with Backstreet Boys

>> Let's talk about Avril Lavigne, shall we?  I grew up listening to her music, as many people my age did.  Her songs were an angsty combination of pop punk and radio-friendly rebellion. Whenever I was mad at my parents I'd blast her Let Go album at full volume, feeling like I was hosting a very small and safe revolution within the confines of my bedroom.  While it looks juvenile in hindsight, in reality she was trying to do something at the time.  She was jumping around wearing neckties and heavy eyeliner singing about saying "See ya l8r boy" to all the Sk8er Bois around, but there was somehow a purpose there. Songs like "Complicated," "Losing My Grip," and "I'm With You" had a point - love and life are tough but you can make it through.  Now, she's not necessarily a motivational speaker but she was trying to do something different.  It seemed like I had someone to turn when I didn't fit in with the popular kids, or the rich kids, or with my family or anywhere.  She was having fun and she let me have fun in my wanna be punk, wanna be rebellious, safe way.  She actually got me through a lot of middle school angst.  A lot of angst, and I know I'm not the only one who can say that.

>> Flash forward to 2014.  She's married to the singer of Nickelback and making some weird decisions.  Personal life aside, Avril has taken a new approach to getting attention.  Where her pop hit "Girlfriend" was sugar sweet with a bite, the new single "Hello Kitty" is trying to be so sweet that it's nauseating.  There are moments when Avril screeches in an attempt to either hit a falsetto, or simply to show the enthusiasm of an excited teen girl - either way, it sounds forced each time.  There's a combination of fairly generic but catchy pop rock elements unexpectedly broken up by some dubstep at the chorus before immediately returning to a pop focus.  It doesn't quite make sense, and yet I can't get it out of my head (even though I really, really want to).  This song doesn't seem to have a purpose other than to be the track people can't escape, whether they're listening to it or listening to people bitch about it.  While the rest of the album isn't 100% this style, this one song has generated more buzz than the tracks previously released from it.  Whether or not it's good buzz, it doesn't matter. Avril has been trending on Facebook and Twitter since the video's release, and I think that was her intention. (Especially with a tour with a boy band starting in a week? I don't think it's a coincidence.)

>> Of course there are images related to Hello Kitty everywhere in the video (aka a lot of pink), and direct references to the cartoon icon in the lyrics, but what hurts Avril here is basically everything else.  First, let's talk about her attempt at playing guitar.  If she can play, and if she's playing on the track, cool. That's totally cool. But the way her "playing guitar" is shown in the video is sloppy and done as an attempt to give her some edgy rockstar credit that really can't be earned in a video for a song called "Hello Kitty."  Then we have the settings.  There's a candy / cupcake shop that matches her loud skirt, tons of pastels and images associated with youth, innocence, and fun.  There's a sushi restaurant in which we see Avril getting served a plate of sushi, and then that's the end of that - it's basically a scene to add to the Japanese theme of the video and to show how excited Avril gets about sushi, apparently. The video includes a lot of smiling, hair flipping, and jumping from Avril, and some stiff, mechanic moves with pained expressions from her 4 back up dancers.

>> Because of the obvious Japanese theme, people have been calling the video racist and appalling, among other things.  Now, I won't agree or disagree with that, but I will show you Avril's response to those claims of racism (below).  She's claiming that the theme of the video came from a love of Japanese culture and fans she's met from Japan, and by that logic she succeeded in capturing it - maybe it captured her experience with Japan.   She doesn't think she did anything wrong, and instead hopes that everyone will keep watching the video, which most likely, we will - whether it's due to curiosity, respect, or because your friend told you to.  Either way, you're engaging it.

>> Regardless of your reactions to this song (or Avril's reactions to other reactions), Avril will be touring with the Backstreet Boys starting May 3rd. Check the full list of dates below.

Backstreet Boys + Avril Lavigne 2014 Tour Dates:
May 3 – Moncton Coliseum Arena – Moncton, NB

May 4 – Halifax Metro Centre – Halifax, NS

May 6 – Rogers K-Rock Centre – Kingston, ON

May 7 – Budweiser Gardens – London, ON

May 8 – Frist Ontario Centre – Hamilton, ON

May 11 – MTS Centre – Winnipeg, MB

May 13 – Mosaic Place – Moose Jaw, SK

May 14 – Enmax Centre – Lethbridge, AB

May 16 – Scotiabank Saddledome – Calgary, AB

May 17 – Rexall Place – Edmonton, AB

May 18 – EnCana Events Centre – Dawson Creek, BC

May 20 – Rogers Arena – Vancouver, BC

May 22 – WaMu Theater, Seattle, WA
May 24 – Sleep Train Amphitheatre – Sacramento, CA.
May 25 – Shoreline Amphitheatre - Mountain View, CA

May 28 – Viejas Arena, San Diego - CA

May 29 – The Forum, Los Angeles - CA

May 30-31 – Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino - Las Vegas, NV

June 2- Isleta Amphitheater - Albuquerque, NM

June 4 – American Bank Center Arena - Corpus Christi, TX

June 5 – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion - Houston, TX

June 6 – Chesapeake Energy Arena - Oklahoma City, OK

June 7 – Starlight Theatre, Kansas City - MO

June 9 – CenturyLink Center Omaha - Omaha, NE

June 10 – Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul - MN

June 11 – FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island - Chicago, IL

June 13 – Klipsch Music Center - Indianapolis, IN

June 14 – First Niagara Pavilion - Pittsburgh, PA

June 15 – Riverbend Music Center - Cincinnati, OH

June 17 – DTE Energy Music Theatre - Detroit, MI

June 18 – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center - Darien Lake, NY

June 20 – Xfinity Center - Boston, MA

June 21 – Susquehanna Bank Center - Philadelphia, PA

June 22 – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater - Wantagh, NY

 - Kate Russell

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