A Few Thoughts on Avril Lavigne’s "Sk8er Boi"

November 19, 2020
various punk clothing (shoes, hats, ties)
Art by Kim Salac

It was a late night and I found myself feeling particularly disheartened at the state of the world during these “unprecedented times.” So, in an attempt to cope, I turned on some tunes. But the tunes did not help. Surprisingly, I shed a tear, maybe even two, over Avril Lavgine’s iconic song “Sk8er Boi.” Although I will admit I cry rather easily, this was out of the ordinary; but as the overwhelming pressures and suspense of “real life” built, my mind ran away with my interpretations. I no longer heard a power anthem, but instead a jarring reflection of regret and mistake. I am well aware that I may be overthinking, however, I welcome the distraction.

 

So, in an attempt to cope, I turned on some tunes. But the tunes did not help. Surprisingly, I shed a tear, maybe even two, over Avril Lavgine’s iconic song “Sk8er Boi.”

   

 

The story goes as follows: “He,” the skater boy in question, wanted “her,” the stereotypical popular girl/ballerina, and—here comes the plot twist—“secretly she wanted him as well.” She would never tell, though. The conjunction “but” in the next line attributes her unwillingness to “all of her friends.” It was their “problem with his baggy clothes” that kept the two apart; their hoity toity societal norms prompted the girl’s response, a devastating “see you later, boy.” 

 

Then follows an even harsher line, “he wasn’t good enough for her,” demonstrating how the girl let her friends influence her in a negative way. They enforce toxic thoughts and the girl succumbs to peer pressure, so while the friends are at fault, the girl is not fully absolved. I can imagine her reaction hurt the boy just as much, if not more, than it hurt her. The following lines are ambiguous, as the meaning depends on from whose perspective they are spoken. “She had a pretty face/But her head was up in space/She needed to come back down to earth.” Is it from the girl’s, as well as her friends, implying that the girl needs a reality check to realize she and the skater boy “could not” be together, godforbid they disrupt the status quo? Or is it from Avril’s perspective, in which the girl needs an ego check after thinking she is too good for him? I am unable to ascertain. 

 

It only gets sadder as the tables turn.

 

Her monotonous lifestyle, sitting at home, provides a stark contrast to the image of the skater boy, “rockin’ up MTV.” She sees the boy she used to want on TV, and she calls up her friends. “They already know, and they’ve all got tickets to see his show.” Absolutely gutting.

 

 

The image of the girl, five years later, breaks my heart. The line, “feeding the baby, she’s all alone,” is arguably the saddest in the entirety of the song. She has company, in the presence of her child, and yet she is isolated, implying a life unfulfilled. Her monotonous lifestyle, sitting at home, provides a stark contrast to the image of the skater boy, “rockin’ up MTV.” She sees the boy she used to want on TV, and she calls up her friends. “They already know, and they’ve all got tickets to see his show.” Absolutely gutting. These friends, previously scorning her infatuation and condemning the boy whose life was so different from their own, are all now eager to see him perform, presumably without her. “She tags along, stands in the crowd, looks up at the man that she turned down.” The transition from “boy” to “man” emphasizes what could be the moral of the song, teaching those listening to refrain from making assumptions. “There is more than meets the eye,” sings Lavigne, “I see the soul that is inside.” Lavigne’s happy relationship with the skater boy at the end of the song contrasts with the dismal impression the listener has gathered of the girl’s current life. From the negative framing, it appears that maybe the girl has learned a lesson regarding thinking independently. This is how the story ends. 

 

Or not, we can’t really know for sure.

 

Maybe I just needed something else, anything else, to get emotional about, and a song released eighteen years ago about a “sk8er boi” turned rockstar oddly did the trick.

 

 

Again, I am probably making this more complex than it really is—maybe I just needed something else, anything else, to get emotional about, and a song released eighteen years ago about a “sk8er boi” turned rockstar oddly did the trick. Or maybe Lavigne’s wrong and there is more to be said. I wouldn’t know. At least the chorus is catchy. 

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