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Track Review

One of the biggest surprises of 2018 was Avril Lavigne's dramatic return after several years out of the spotlight. In her comeback track "Head Above Water," the Canadian singer belted out a plaintive prayer for God to save her. It was unlike any Avril Lavigne song we'd ever heard. That's because the song's lyrics were inspired by her nearly life-ending struggle with Lyme disease.

But that track also raises another obvious question: What's the rest of her new material going to sound like? Will it be similarly inspirational? Or will it revert to what we've come to expect of Lavigne over the years: edgy pop-punk that splits the difference between rebellious and empowering?

Her latest single begins to answer that question.

Alanis, Gwen & Avril

Just about any way you slice it, "Dumb Blonde" feels like a throwback track. This in-your-face anthem pays homage to Lavigne's own pop-punk roots, but it also draws stylistic inspiration from Gwen Stefani's 2004 smash hit "Hollaback Girl," Alanis Morissette's 1995 earworm "All I Really Want" and The Runaways 1976 rocker "Cherry Bomb."

Against a staccato backbeat of marching band drums and blaring brass, Lavigne gets pretty brassy herself as she reminds listeners to be careful not to stereotype her. (And, by extension, not to let anyone stereotype them, either.) "I ain't no dumb blonde," she blasts at the outset. "I ain't no stupid Barbie doll/I got my game on/Watch me, watch me, watch me prove you wrong."

Who Me? Brag?

Avril's attitude is as in your face as ever. But with the exception a couple relatively minor hiccups, the balance of the song is—while perhaps self-confident to a fault—fairly positive. And that's even after guest Nicki Minaj joins the braggadocios proceedings.

The first full verse blasts, "Well, there you go again tellin' me where I belong/You put me on the bench, don't think that I can play strong." At this point, Avril's just getting warmed up responding to anyone foolish enough to underestimate her. "So quick to condescend, well, you think I'm empty, I'm not." And then she gets a bit more braggy: "You won't be so confident when I'm crushin' you from the top."

There's still more where that came from: "I'm a babe, I'm a boss and I'm making this money (Uh huh)/I can flip like a switch and cut like a blade/I can sting like a bee, but I'm sweeter than honey."

Nicki Minaj, never one to be outdone in the bravado department, takes it up a notch. "Yo, I ain't playin', but I won the cup/Came through heavy on it in the Bentley truck/ … You never gon' stop me, never gon' top me." (Here's hoping no one gets injured in the brag-off between Avril and Nicki.)

Now, these lines perhaps beg the important question of when self-confidence crosses the line into self-absorption. But the song's infectious beats ameliorate that narcissistic vibe somewhat, giving it a playfully sassy feel—much like we heard in Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." By the time the drums and horns call it a day, Lavigne's latest mostly majors on encouraging women not to let themselves be devalued by others.

Now, about those hiccups.

Lavigne can't quite resist the urge to "edge" things up a bit with this repeated line: "We're bombshells raisin' h--- now." And that aforementioned allusion to The Runaways song "Cherry Bomb" turns up in this mildly suggestive line: "I am a freaking cherry bomb (that's right)."

Those aren't huge issues. But they do push the song toward the blurry boundary line between empowerment and rebelliousness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

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Genre

PopPunk

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Performance

Record Label

BMG

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Released

February 12, 2019

On Video

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Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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