Avril Lavigne Courts the Teen Crowd
A big sign of their approval: her bid for the surfboard "trophy" for choice music single -- for her energetic tune "Girlfriend" -- in Teen Choice 2007, the ninth edition of the annual award show, which Fox televises Sunday, Aug. 26. Lavigne is scheduled to perform at the event, as is Kelly Clarkson; Hilary Duff and Nick Cannon are set to host at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
"Getting any nomination in any award show is always cool," the Ontario, Canada-born Lavigne says from Switzerland during a European concert run. "It's very current, therefore it's exciting. I don't know if I'll get (the award), but it's a cool thing just to be acknowledged."
Also up for choice music single: "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Patrick Stump; "The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani featuring Akon; "Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z; and "Give It to Me" by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake.
Since Lavigne featured no one else on "Girlfriend," she'll have the surfboard all to herself if she wins. Still, she allows, "I love Gwen Stefani, and I love 'Umbrella.' I thought 'Girlfriend' would do well. Luke (collaborator Lukasz Gottwald) and I wrote the chorus in about two minutes really late one night, and even though I didn't have the verse for a long time, all my friends loved it. Everyone responded to it really well without it even being done, so I had a good feeling about it."
"Girlfriend" was the first single from Lavigne's third album, "The Best Damn Thing," released in April (and co-produced by her husband, Deryck Whibley of the band Sum 41, also slated to appear at Teen Choice 2007).
"We were just being silly," she recalls, "but I think that's what happens with songs that become very successful. They capture certain magical moments. It wasn't like, 'Oh, we've gotta write a hit.' We were just having fun. I've noticed that with all my songs that have done really well, they were written quickly.
"I don't like to work on a song over a few weeks or a month," Lavigne says, "because I get bored and I lose the excitement. I like to hurry up and pound out the lyrics, because that's the moment when you're on fire." Other examples from Lavigne's catalog include "Complicated," "I'm With You," "Sk8er Boi" and "My Happy Ending."
"I've grown musically with ['Girlfriend']," Lavigne says. "It's a bit different than anything I've ever done, yet still really me. I wanted the whole album to be upbeat and fun; I was in a fun place when I was writing it. I didn't want to put it out until I felt every song was great, and I also feel the second single -- 'When You're Gone' -- is very special. It's the first time I've had the reaction of all my girlfriends crying when they first heard it, and it's the same with the video. It's touched a lot of people, and they can relate to it in a lot of different ways."
As usual, young Hollywood will be all over Teen Choice 2007; scheduled presenters range from television actors Jared Padalecki ("Supernatural") and Taylor Kitsch ("Friday Night Lights") to movie actresses Jessica Alba and Megan Fox ("Transformers"). America Ferrera ("Ugly Betty"), Ashlee Simpson, Zac Efron ("High School Musical"), Dane Cook, Miley Cyrus ("Hannah Montana") and Lauren Conrad ("The Hills") also are slated to take the stage.
For the moments she's on it, 22-year-old Lavigne expects to have a good time, since playing live for her fans is one of her biggest rushes. She claims that before she unveils new songs, "it's not an anxiety thing, but more just being excited. I've been able to keep my focus and not feel pressure. It's important if you can do that. I really make my records for me; it's about what I like and what I'm feeling."
Which isn't to say Lavigne doesn't appreciate her worldwide popularity. "I played in Italy recently, and they were singing all the words to all my new songs. I remember the promoter coming up to me and saying, 'They know all of them!' I was like, 'Yeah, that's pretty amazing.' That's definitely cool. Especially when they don't speak English." Whenever she's back home in Canada, Lavigne gets "so much love and so much support, and the shows are always great there."
The ride Lavigne has had with "Girlfriend," her first song to top Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart, hasn't been totally without bumps: Two songwriters have sued her and her label, alleging the tune infringes on "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," which they created in the late 1970s. Lavigne denies it, adding she has been pouring most of her energy into the American concert tour she's prepping.
"I have dancers and a new band," she reports, "and the album allows me to do different things with the show. I feel very lucky to have had international success, so I spend time touring in Asia and Japan and South America and South Africa. Usually, you'll start out in the big cities, then you go back again and do all the smaller and bigger [venues]. I've put more thought into it than ever before. I just want my show to be better, so it will be."