My modem’s frighteningly fucked at home, so despite having thing after thing I want to write about, I haven’t. Let’s get ‘em out the way.
My MP3 player’s been loaded up with a number of pop-songs I’ve wanted to tear apart while walking about the town. Mainly contemporary – Jenny from the Block, Girls Aloud, the Coral, Cam’ron – with a side order of old-skool art-pop in the form of the KLF’s “Last Train to Transcental”, which I’ve been timing opening doors to and resisting the all consuming urge to jump down the road while chanting MU! MU! MU! MU!.
Anyway – I’ve finally torn apart Avril Lavigne’s SK8R BOI to something approaching my satisfaction. I’ve wanted to do it because I had the nagging feeling, even before Emerson posted about it, that I was missing something huge. I was lost in the contrast between the genuine briliance of the opening “He was a boy/she wa a girl” couplet and the somewhat shortsighted persona the rest of the song.
But now I get it.
“He was a boy, she was a girl
Can I make it anymore obvious?
He was a punk,she did ballet
What more can I say?
He wanted her, she’d never tell
secretly she wanted him as well.
But all of her friends stuck up there nose
they had a problem with his baggy clothes.”
Opening verse is a straight description of events. It is, compared to the rest, relatively neutral, bar the sneer at the girl who did Ballet. It doesn’t analyse that the punk’s friend would be equally troublesome, but that’s not needed at the point. The “She’d never tell/secretly she wanted him as well” is as sympathetic and more than a little heartbreaking. Doomed romance alway is.
This is wiped away by the chorus, which is a hysterical incessant screech, in the best possible way. It’s commentary on the situation, clearly from Avril’s character – I’ll refer to her as “Avril” from now on, but I’m not implying Avril feels the same as the character – sneering at this woman’s problems..
Most important point: Past tense.
Second verse kicks in.
“Five years from now, she sits at home
feeding the baby, she’s all alone”
Waitasec – look at that again. Five years from now. From now on in, the song isn’t actually a decription of events. Its the character speaking about what she thinks will happen or – given the tone – what she *wants* to happen. This is wish fulfillment. She’s conflicting the greatness of this kid who’ll be something cool like – say – a Rock star, when she’s just leaking out brats in a home, with her hubby at the office or already left her. She goes to the rock show, where she looks up and realises what an idiot she has been.
It is, in this fantasy, all too late, because he’s already with someone else – Avril.
Or is she?
This is where it gets interesting, because I’m not entirely convinced that Avril has had anything to do with the SK8R BOI. While it’s possible to read it that she’s with the BOI now, and is speculating at her position in the future with the great thing her boyfriend will almost certainly achieve, the whole bridge section – where she speaks directly at the girl – gives the impression of speaking to the girl directly are almost certainly part of the fantasy sequence. Take it the other way, if you want, but elements like “This is how the story ends” points towards the whole thing being a fictional construct. It certainly explains the genuine disturbing, horrible psychotic voice-distort on the “We rock each others world”. It sounds like it’s trying so hard you have to wonder who Avril’s trying to convince.
Which makes the whole thing the jealous scrawling of an outsider girl, looking at the doomed flirtations between the coolest SK8R BOI and a would-be head cheerleader, lying to herself that she’ll be the one in his arms when he’s a rockstar, looking back and laughing at the vacousness peroxide hatred they’ve both left behind.
It’s one take anyway.
Now: I have to reply to one of those E-mails and go to the pub.