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He was a boy
She was a girl
Can i make it any more obvious

Avril Lavigne's hair covers her eyes, almost. It's straight and brown, hanging past her tastefully makeup-drowned face. She's wearing a clean suit jacket and bowtie. She picks most of her own outfits, I heard.

He was a punk
She did ballet
What more can i say

She used to be a country singer -- that was the kind of music she listened to, at least; I don't think she had an album out, but she sang at fairs and such. Then the record company picked her up. "We had to educate her," said one of the people involved her production. "At the beginning, she thought punk was Blink 182."

He wanted her
She'd never tell
secretly she wanted him as well

She's not getting into it much -- singing too softly, with a bit of a shake in her voice. Not like when the song was premiered. Understandable, these things happen; she's probably been on tour for months and stayed up late the night before. (Anyway, this is just the Grammys, not TRL.)

But all of her friends
Stuck up their nose
They had a problem with his baggy clothes

She's removed the jacket just in time for the chorus; underneath is a nice casual outfit, blue cotton unbuttoned over a t-shirt. She takes the mic out of the holder and jumps.

He was a skater boy
She said see you later boy
He wasn't good enough for her

The camera pans and the crowd comes into view; a bunch of kids are jumping along and singing, arms in the air, heads and shoulders peeking past the stage's edge.

She had a pretty face
But her head was up in space
She needed to come back down to earth

Another view of the crowd and this time the angle is a bit wider; there are only a couple feet of them. Behind, the rest of the audience -- the people watching the show, not performing in it -- sits politely.

5 years from now
She sits at home
Feeding the baby she's all alone
She turns on tv
Guess who she sees
Skater boy rockin up MTV

She turns and walks to the guitarist, stands close to him and sings, face-to-mic-to-face. He has bleached hair and is as ludicrously attractive as she is; I suppose he has to be.

She calls up her friends
They already know
And they've all got
Tickets to see his show
She tags along
Stands in the crowd
Looks up at the man that she turned down

Coldplay must be a tough act to follow. The lead singer singing what he created himself and banging the piano like Thom Yorke and the orchestra behind him with a score fit to his music by producers and the lights flashing like galaxies with the lyrics; the sound that came out is the sound the music industry makes when it works, when all the pieces fit together.

He was a skater boi
She said see you later boy
He wasn't good enough for her

Vertically, Avril Lavigne is Coldplay's antonym. The music doesn't come from the bottom up, from the artist to the producers to be tweaked a bit; it all comes from the top down, the image first and then the song to fit it and the singer to perform with a good-looking band.

She had a pretty face
But her head was up in space
She needed to come back down to earth

I'm almost singing along now; it's catchy, and the chords aren't bad, and there are nice little touches here and there. The vocals are too loud over the instrumentation, and the instrumentation's a bit too smooth -- this isn't like hip-hop or R and B, which are impossible to overproduce -- but nothing a good remix can't fix; Lavigne's got an endearing voice. Even the 8 in the title seems kind of cute. Don't turn up your nose at pop; good pop is hard to do.

He was a skater boy
She said see you later boy
He wasn't good enough for her
Now he's a superstar
Slamming on his guitar
Does your pretty face see what he's worth?

This is supposed to be punk, though.

Sorry girl but you missed out
Well tough luck that boy's mine now
We are more than just good friends
This is how the story ends
Too bad that you couldn't see,
See the man that boy could be
There is more than meets the eye
I see the soul that is inside

I once played an online game called Sodaplay -- more of a toy than a game, really -- that used 15 or 20 abstracted points connected with abstracted strings to make Rube Goldberg insects (only one insect at a time), strolling across the bottom of the screen on its cyclic legs and reversing direction each time it reached the edge -- no centralization, no artificial constraints, just a bunch of strings pulling according to some common principles that through brilliant design manage to look like an actual living creature.

He's just a boy
And I'm just a girl
Can I make it any more obvious
We are in love
Haven't you heard
How we rock each other's world

I played around with some of the sliders at the bottom, messing with the virtual laws of physics. I made the strings a bit looser, the time a bit faster-flowing, and the virtual being modified its walk accordingly. On a lark, I reversed the gravity.

I'm with the skater boy
I said see you later boy
I'll be backstage after the show
I'll be at the studio
Singing the song we wrote
About a girl you used to know

The contraption sailed up and hit the top of the screen. Each string was still adhering to the same principles but together it was all wrong, all totally wrong, everything was pulling the wrong directions and the legs soon weren't legs and the torso wasn't a torso and it was all grossly, grotesquely distended; I wanted to throw up. It still looked like a real, living insect. A dying insect.

I'm with the skater boy
I said see you later boy
I'll be backstage after the show
I'll be at the studio
Singing the song we wrote
About a girl you used to know





I hate to break up this writeup with a disclaimer. But Lavigne may write some of her own stuff; she has co-writer credit on all the songs on Let Go. It's hard to tell whether that means anything, but I don't want to contribute to an unfair image if it does.

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