New single, new era, new Avril.
Avril Lavigne has released her first official single in over five years, proving she’s determined to make her comeback.
“Head Above Water” is an emotional power ballad recounting the singers battle with Lyme Disease.
The track is a far departure from her chart-topping singles “Girlfriend” and “Sk8er Boi,” forgoing sugary pop instrumentals for a softer piano-led backing. The Belleville, Ont.-born singer showcases her impressive vocal talents with commanding crescendos interspersed between passionate lyrics like “To keep me safe, to keep me warm/ Yeah, my life is what I’m fighting for”.
The single strives to capture the sound of hope without being overly saccharine. While the vaguely spiritual undertone of the lyrics may deter the more cynical listeners, the overall sound is not preachy.
On Sept. 6, Lavigne posted a lengthy message to fans on her website detailing her health struggles and announcing the release of new music. “Thank you for waiting so patiently as I fought through and still continue to fight, the battle of my lifetime,” said Lavigne.
In the message, she recounts one freighting night where she was certain she would die. “I felt like I was drowning…Unable to breathe. Praying to God for Him to help me just keep my head above the water. To help me see through the stormy weather. I grew closer to Him,” wrote Lavigne. “My mother held me. In her arms, I wrote the first song that I am releasing to tell my story.”
The letter to fans also details how The Avril Lavigne Foundation will be supporting efforts to inform the public on the severity of Lyme disease and will also provide financial and emotional support to those with the disease.
Lavigne first spoke about her diagnosis in 2015, where she told People Magazine that it took doctors months to find out what was wrong with her. The typically spirited singer was lethargic and had very little appetite while on a birthday trip with friends in October 2014. After getting her diagnosis, she became bedridden for five months.
Social media has not been kind to Lavigne. In 2014, the singer released an EDM track titled “Hello Kitty,” accompanied by a bizarre and distasteful music video that was later taken down from YouTube. The fourth single off her self-titled album brought extreme backlash for the videos tone deaf depiction of Japanese culture and lackluster lyrics.
In 2017, an internet conspiracy theory claiming the “real” Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a doppelgänger named Melissa Vandella went viral. Since then, Lavigne’s social media posts have been flogged with comments referencing the theory, with many simply saying “Melissa”.
It appears the bad internet luck may be coming to an end. Upon the singles release, fans enthusiastically took to Twitter to send well-wishes and show their support.