Welcome to our new weekly column, Fuck Guilty Pleasures. We wanted to do a serial on the subject, but there was a problem; here at West Coast Sound, we don't believe in guilty pleasures. We just like whatever commercial crap we like and everyone else can suck it.

Fuck Guilty Pleasures, then, celebrates the over-produced, commercial, artless, lowbrow. chart-dominating music that has come to form a genre unto itself. These are the songs and artists that the fixed-gear bike crowd requires a smirk to sing along to, but we believe are genuinely worthwhile. Like, among the best music ever.

Which brings us to Avril.

Yes, it's true that I am forever and hopelessly in love with Avril — so much so that I rejoiced at news of her divorce. It's true that I consider her the pinnacle of feminine beauty, that she's the reason I've maintained my Maxim subscription all these years. Hell, I once argued in a pro/con Avril debate with my former colleague Mike Seely. The only problem was that we were both so smitten, it turned into a pro/pro debate.

But none of that has anything to do with why I adore her music. Anyone can drunk karaoke “My Happy Ending,” but I've stuck with her through some really difficult singles. Rest assured I was firmly on her side during the whole “Girlfriend” plagiarism debate (The Rubinoos can lay an egg), and I thought “What The Hell” was supremely underrated. I even call up “Hot” on YouTube not for the video but for the song, which has to be some kind of record.

She co-writes most of her hits, and has been doing so for ten years! “Complicated” was released in May 2002 — a few months ahead of “Sk8er Boi” — and it, like many of her songs, accurately captures the experience of how annoying people you're sleeping with can be. (Or people you're trying to sleep with, or friends of the people you're trying to sleep with.) The initial ecstatic rush of new relationships exits suddenly when the other person's baggage gets unpacked.

But, like most any major label artist, what makes Avril's songs great goes well beyond Avril herself. Her producers — Dr. Luke, the Matrix, that annoying guy from Sum 41 she exchanged rings with — have done A-1 work fashioning big, meaty ballads for her. Ballads that (with the exception of the crap off Goodbye Lullaby) are more pathos-driven than saccharine.

There isn't a lot of room on the dial for rock-based pop stars these days, as most songs on top 40 radio incorporate dance or hip-hop beats. But, somehow, Avril still carries the torch.

And, of course, I still carry a torch for her. <3

LA Weekly