And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

Beef Of The Week #428: ‘Avril Lavigne’ v Avril Lavigne

By | Published on Friday 2 November 2018

Avril Lavigne

The principle of Occam’s razor states that, given two explanations for any situation, the simplest is the most likely to be true.

The more assumptions you have to make for something to work, the less likely it is to have occurred. But Occam was alive in the fourteenth century, before complicated things really existed, so I’m not sure he’s in a position to have an opinion.

I mean, just look at the interview on Australian radio station KIIS 1065 this week, where the fake Avril Lavigne claimed not to be fake: “Some people think that I’m not the real me, which is so weird”, she said. “Like, why would they even think that?”

Sure Avril, if that is your real name. Which it isn’t.

In case you’re not aware of the back story here, the claim that Lavigne was replaced by a doppelganger after the release of her 2002 debut album first emerged in 2011, on a Brazilian blog specifically set up to present the conspiracy theory.

In a nutshell, the story goes that, being just a teenager when she first found success, Lavigne struggled with fame to the point that a lookalike, real name Melissa, had to be used for some public appearances. But when the real Lavigne died shortly after beginning work on her second album, Melissa became Lavigne full time, because she was too lucrative a star for her label to simply allow her career to end after one record.

The wealth of evidence is compelling. In photographs taken at different times, there are slight changes in Lavigne’s appearance. The sound, style and lyrical content of her second album were not identical to her first. And she has contradicted things she previously said in interviews. Like, she once said that she wasn’t just some pop star who performs with dancers, but subsequently she has performed with dancers.

However, the biggest giveaway of all is the hints Melissa herself has dropped into her lyrics. While writing what would be credited as Lavigne’s second album, she kept including clues as to what had really happened. On the surface you might think those lyrics simply featured generic references to anxiety, loss and self-doubt. But, in fact, you’d be wrong. Those lyrics were definitely Melissa giving the game away.

Of course, this is not the only time a conspiracy theory has been concocted about a pop star. The claims about Lavigne are actually very similar to the long-running conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1966 and replaced by the winner of a lookalike competition called William Campbell.

There’s also that long-running theory that Andrew WK doesn’t exist, while everyone from Jim Morrison, to Kurt Cobain, to Elvis, has had theories concocted on their behalf to the effect that they faked their own deaths for one reason or another. Just last month, Suge Knight’s son claimed that Tupac Shakur is alive and well and living in Malaysia.

Now, if we believe this Occam guy, Lavigne and McCartney have always been the same person, Andrew WK is real, and all the people who appeared to die really did die. After all, secretly switching a pop star in the spotlight with a lookalike, making up a musician that doesn’t really exist, and then faking the deaths of various very famous people is a whole lot more complicated than just not doing any of those things.

Or could it be that – given that there are now so many of these theories – that the most simple explanation is that they are in fact true? After all, going to the effort of making up these pointless conspiracy theories and then endlessly sharing them via the internet is pretty time-consuming too.

Anyway, the Lavigne conspiracy theory has resurfaced because she has recently returned to music following two years of recovery from Lyme disease.

That recovery was the subject of her comeback single, ‘Head Above Water’, of which she said: “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water’. In that moment, the songwriting of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on”.

For a lot of people, seemingly, their first thought on hearing that wasn’t “wow, that sounds like a really horrible situation to find yourself in”, but rather, “wait, didn’t she already die?” And so the conspiracy theory got a whole new lease of life. Some even speculated that ‘Head Above Water’ contained yet more clues about the whole thing from Melissa.

But if the fake Lavigne was so keen for everyone to know the truth, why would she then be so dismissive of the rumours when asked about them on KIIS 1065? “Some people think that I’m not the real me, which is so weird”, she laughed.

It is weird, isn’t it? But she didn’t actually deny it, did she? She instead went on: “Why would they even think that?” Why indeed? Maybe because of all the evidence already listed above. Maybe because of all the clues she keeps dropping into her songs. Maybe because she keeps saying ambiguous things like “which is so weird” and “why would they even think that?” Which, OK, aren’t really that ambiguous, but reading something into those few remarks on Australian radio isn’t any less flimsy than all the other things cited by the conspiracy fans.

Though, if you’ve been waiting for something more watertight, how about this blog post from KIIS 1065 about their recent interview. “What was incredibly strange and creepy was that as soon as [the interviewer] asked this question, the phone line turned really weird”, it reports. “Avril went a bit robotic, cut out and times, and even accidentally started pressing random buttons making a beep sound! Is it just a coincidence that things started going haywire with the line as soon as we asked about the Melissa theories? Or was someone doing it… DELIBERATELY!”

I’ll leave it up to you.