Goodbye Lullaby

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Goodbye Lullaby
Studio album by Avril Lavigne
Released 2 March 2011 (2011-03-02)
Recorded November 2008 – October 2010
Genre Pop rock[1]
Length 51:13
Label RCA[2]
Producer
Avril Lavigne chronology
The Best Damn Thing
(2007)
Goodbye Lullaby
(2011)
Avril Lavigne
(2013)
Singles from Goodbye Lullaby
  1. "What the Hell"
    Released: 7 January 2011 (2011-01-07)
  2. "Smile"
    Released: 6 May 2011 (2011-05-06)[3]
  3. "Wish You Were Here"
    Released: 9 September 2011 (2011-09-09)[4]

Goodbye Lullaby is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne, her last to be released by RCA Records. The album was first released on 2 March 2011, four years after the release of her earlier album The Best Damn Thing. Recording sessions began in November 2008, and took place over a period of almost two years, concluding in October 2010. The album's songs contain mainly stripped down instruments, such as the piano and acoustic guitar. Every song on the album was written by Lavigne, with half of the album being written with co-writers.

The album debuted inside the top five in over 15 countries such as the United States and Canada, topping the charts in Japan, Australia, Greece, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Czech Republic. The lead single of the album, "What the Hell", was released on 7 January 2011, and achieved worldwide chart success; reaching the top twenty in the United States and United Kingdom, the top ten in Europe and Australia and the top five in Asia. The following singles, "Smile" and "Wish You Were Here", had moderate chart success worldwide. The album also includes an extended version of the soundtrack single for the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, titled "Alice".

By November 2013, the album sold around 1.8 million copies, out of which over 425,000 in Japan and over 373,000 in the U.S.

Background and development[edit]

The album and lead single's release dates had been pushed back several times. The album was originally scheduled for release on 17 November 2009.[5] Later, in January 2010, Lavigne stated that the album cover had been photographed and the first single would be released in April followed by the album in June.[6] In May, Lavigne said that she considered the album too serious and "mellow" and would return to the studio to balance the album out, "With an album, I don't want to rush it out.... I have a very serious record, so I think I need to put a couple upbeat, fun songs on it."[7]

In August 2010, Lavigne returned to Henson Recording Studios[8] with producer Alex da Kid. During these sessions, Lavigne had strep throat, and the people involved were required to wear surgical masks.[9] Despite her doctor's warning, Lavigne recorded vocals, "I wasn't able to sing for the last forty-eight hours because I could do permanent damage to the vocal cords."[8] She revealed that she had been "trying new stuff" and that she was "exploring". Lavigne added that she had enough material for two records.[9]

"My record company was being a typical record company and trying to give me their version of how it should be – trying to get me to go in a different direction. I had to fight with them over and over. I was like, 'No, this is a really special record to me and this is what I'm doing'."

—Lavigne, Digital Spy[10]

In October 2010, Lavigne was featured in Maxim for the November issue. During the interview she revealed that she had finished Goodbye Lullaby after two and a half years.[11] However, in November, Lavigne announced that her album had been completed for a year, citing her record company as the reason for the album's delays.[12] Lavigne stated that her record company wanted something more upbeat to keep up with mainstream radio, "Radio's very rhythmic and urban and dance today. I think they wanted me to do something more like that, but that's not what my vision was for this album".[10]

The entire track listing for the album was revealed on 21 December 2010,[13] after some were announced in early December.[14][15] It was also announced that two songs on the album, "4 Real" and "Goodbye", were both written and produced solely by Lavigne herself. The remaining tracks were either written by Lavigne or co-written with longtime collaborators Evan Taubenfeld, Butch Walker, and Max Martin.[14][15] Lavigne stated that her vocals were the most important instrument to her during the album's recording, "Typically the lead vocal gets buried in the track and you can't always hear the quality, character, or emotion after a certain point. I wanted my voice to be the main instrument."[14]

Recording[edit]

Lavigne began recording in her home studio in November 2008 with the song "Black Star", only a month after completing The Best Damn Tour.[5] To help promote her first fragrance, Black Star, Lavigne needed a short theme that would be used for the TV spots. "Black Star" was composed in a Malaysian hotel during her tour. The jingle was eventually expanded into a short introduction to the album, which Rolling Stone later described as "an ethereal lullaby that turns epic with tinkling Coldplay-like pianos and soaring strings."[16]

"I always had material, but some people that I worked with didn't really care, because they wanted to write the stuff."

—Lavigne, Entertainment Weekly[5]

Recording began with minimal instruments, usually starting with Lavigne singing only to acoustic guitar, with additional instruments added later. Lavigne described the process: "It’s stripped down. I love performing that way, so I really felt like it was time to make a record like that. To just make it all about the vocal and the performance, and the vibe, and the emotion." Because she has a studio in her home, Lavigne was able to compose and record at her leisure. She also used the piano to compose the majority of the songs. "The piano is more of an emotional instrument. It stirs up different emotions for me and moves me in a different way than the guitar can."[17] By July 2009, nine tracks had been recorded,[5] including the songs "Fine", "Everybody Hurts" and "Darlin'", the latter being the second song Lavigne wrote as a 15-year-old while living in Napanee, Ontario.[18] Lavigne stated that this album would be different from her previous work, "The other albums I've done, the songs are all over the place. This is the most consistent album all the way through."[19]

Composition[edit]

Lavigne during a performance in Florida, May 2011.

Lavigne described the album as being about "life". She stated, "It's so easy for me to do a boy-bashing pop song, but to sit down and write honestly about something that's really close to me, something I've been through, it's a totally different thing."[16] The album serves as a return to Lavigne's older musical style and is largely acoustic.[18] With the exception of the album's lead single, Lavigne describes the songs on the album as different from her earlier material, "I'm older now, so I think that comes across in my music, it's not as pop-rock and it's a little more mellow and it's deep".[20] She said, "[For] this record, I just really, really wanted to sing.... I just wanna have silence around me, and have these acoustic songs and really deliver."[16] In November 2010, British producer Alex da Kid, who worked with Lavigne beginning in August 2010, stated that some songs on the album will have a hip-hop sound, "We've got some things that are hip-hop leaning, and we've got some things that are more pop/rock leaning".[21] In December, it was announced that the songs produced by Alex da Kid would not be on the album but Lavigne stated, "we're gonna do something with that stuff, I'm just not sure what yet".[22]

Lavigne described the first single off the album, "What the Hell", as "a broad message about personal freedom", calling it her "most pop track on the record", the least personal song from the album[12] and the song most reminiscent of her previous work.[19] Another song, "Stop Standing There", has been described as having an "early- '50s girl-group feel" and "Smile" is about Lavigne's gratitude for special people in her life. "Push" is about relationships and "Wish You Were Here" shows Lavigne's vulnerable side.[23] Lavigne described the song "Everybody Hurts" as "different...but not different to stray away from who I am and what I am."[24] "Goodbye" is one of the two songs Lavigne wrote and produced on her own. She says it's about moving on in life, and leaving something secure.[23] Lavigne stated that "Goodbye" is the most personal song she has ever wrote and was the inspiration for the album's title.[22]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (58/100)[25]
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 3/5 stars[26]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[27]
The A.V. Club (C-)[28]
Digital Spy 4/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B-[29]
The Globe and Mail 1.5/4 stars[30]
PopMatters (5/10)[31]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[32]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[33]
Spin (5/10)[34]
Billboard 69/100[35]

Goodbye Lullaby received mixed reviews from music critics based on aggregate score of 58 from Metacritic.[25] Andy Greenwald of Entertainment Weekly, a partner of CNN, said Goodbye Lullaby seeks a balance, "The first half is loaded with glossy confections, while the second consists of quieter reflections clearly inspired by ... Deryck Whibley", her ex-husband. The review ends by giving a grade of B- with the justification that the singer seems to be desperate to share her artistic interior, which is far from fully formed.[29] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic compares Goodbye Lullaby to Under My Skin, also citing the divorce from Deryck Whibley as "The occasion for introspection". He concludes that Lavigne "seems to be grappling with emotions just beyond her reach, never articulating her angst or crafting a melancholy melody, making Goodbye Lullaby feel affected, not genuine."[27]

The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail compared Lavigne, in 2002, to a "younger, sassier version of Alanis Morissette", but that her old niche as the punky pop star been taken over by Ke$ha and that Goodbye Lullaby contains little to catch the ear of anyone who is not already a fan. The reviewer, Robert Everett-Green, criticizes the progression found within six songs: "it’s the basis of Pachelbel's Canon and about a jillion other pop songs." "Goodbye" was described as "a ballad with strings and piano that is the only thing Lavigne did all by herself, including the production. It's high in her register, and she sounds a bit like an angel with tattered wings. It's pretty slick, but it's just genuine-sounding enough to hint at what Lavigne might be able to do if she scraped off the production makeup".[30]

Bill Lamb from About.com gave to the album a rating of 3 stars, opining that: "Goodbye Lullaby leaves us waiting for the next chapter in Avril Lavigne's recording career. Perhaps with this album she has purged the weight of sadness and regret to prepare herself for the next steps forward. It sounds like we would all benefit if she has the courage to move forward in writing and producing songs on her own. The two tracks here indicate that she can be a very solid, compelling pop-rock artist when in complete control of the artistic vision. Mediocre Avril Lavigne remains more compelling than many artists, but Goodbye Lullaby feels a bit like a wasted moment in time".[26]

Jon Pareles from The New York Times was positive, expressing that "on Goodbye Lullaby, she's trying to be a little more expansive, vocally and emotionally, without leaving pop territory". Pareles saw, positively, that: "It’s the pop-factory material, not Ms. Lavigne’s own presumably more personal songs, that offers details, humor and a sense of letting go. Her grown-up seriousness could use a little more of them".[36]

Giving 3 stars out of 5, Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone stated that "Goodbye Lullaby is lovelorn and introspective, full of gusty tunes with a surprising message: Avril cares".[32]

Josh Langhoff of PopMatters criticised Lavigne's songwriting, stating "If you wanna know how NOT to do it, listen to the last five tracks on Goodbye Lullaby". However, Langhoff and Rosen both praised "Stop Standing There", one of the seven songs Lavigne wrote on her own.[31][32]

Commercial performance[edit]

Upon its release, the album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of over 87,000.[37] As of January 2013, Goodbye Lullaby had sold over 373,000 copies in the US. In its second week, the album dropped to number 6 on the chart selling over 65,000 copies and returned to number 4 in its third week selling 23,000 copies, but fell to number 14 and number 32 in its fourth and fifth week. The album has spent a total of twenty six weeks on the Billboard 200, including a couple of re-entries.[38][39]

On 10 March 2011, Goodbye Lullaby debuted at number two[40] on the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart, with sales of 135,410 units in its opening week – the largest opening of the album in a particular country. This was particularly impressive since it was released during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, which cut off all promo. By January 2013, the album had sold over 410,000 copies in Japan, receiving Platinum certification in November 2012. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number nine, selling over 22,500 copies, ending Lavigne's streak of consecutive number-one albums in the UK at three holding the record for the most consecutive number one albums by a female artist. As of May 2012, the album has sold around 74,000 copies in the UK. In Canada, the album reached the 2nd position with sales of 13,000 copies. In Australia, the album topped the album's chart, selling over 15,000 copies. By February 2014, it had sold over 2 million copies, out of which over 430,000 were sold in Japan and over 375,000 were sold in the U.S. – a worldwide moderate success. However, it paled in comparison to her first three albums.

Promotion[edit]

Lavigne during a performance in Belo Horizonte, August 2011

To promote the album, Lavigne embarked on her fourth worldwide tour, The Black Star Tour, in April 2011. Lavigne completed the tour in February 2012, bringing the Goodbye Lullaby album cycle to a close.

Singles[edit]

Lavigne premiered the lead single, "What the Hell", on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on 31 December 2010[15] during a pre-taped segment along with a performance of "Girlfriend".[22] Lavigne said the song is "a really fun, upbeat party song, so it worked out really well to play it for the first time on New Year's Rockin' Eve."[19] The following day, "What the Hell" was available as a free download for 48 hours from Lavigne's official Facebook page.[41] The video for the single was released in January 2011.[12] Lavigne asked her fans via Twitter what the next single should be, giving the choices between "Push" and "Smile",[42][43] with "Smile" ultimately being chosen as the second release.[43]

Lavigne confirmed in July 2011 that "Wish You Were Here" would become the third and final single from Goodbye Lullaby.

Other songs[edit]

On 1 March 2012, Lavigne released an exclusive music video for the closing track of the album "Goodbye". The video was directed by Mark Liddell, and was released as a thank you towards her fans. It was filmed at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. The track "Push" was released on 20 February 2012 as a promotional radio single exclusively in Japan, reaching a peak of 25 on the Japan Hot 100.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Black Star"   Avril Lavigne Deryck Whibley 1:34
2. "What the Hell"  
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
3:40
3. "Push"  
Whibley 3:01
4. "Wish You Were Here"  
  • Lavigne
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
3:45
5. "Smile"  
  • Lavigne
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
3:29
6. "Stop Standing There"   Lavigne Butch Walker 3:27
7. "I Love You"  
  • Lavigne
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
4:01
8. "Everybody Hurts"  
  • Lavigne
  • Taubenfeld
Whibley 3:41
9. "Not Enough"  
  • Lavigne
  • Taubenfeld
Whibley 4:18
10. "4 Real"   Lavigne Lavigne 3:28
11. "Darlin"   Lavigne Whibley 3:50
12. "Remember When"   Lavigne Whibley 3:29
13. "Goodbye"   Lavigne Lavigne 4:29
Notes
  • Song lengths, writing credits and producing credits taken from the Goodbye Lullaby liner notes and Allmusic.[50][27]
  • Co-writer and friend of Lavigne, Evan Taubenfeld provided the bridge vocals on "Push".
  • Japanese Deluxe Edition of album from iTunes store doesn't include What the Hell (Bimbo Jones remix).

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Goodbye Lullaby adapted from Allmusic.[51]

Release history[edit]

Date Region Label
2 March 2011 Japan[52][53] Sony Music Japan
4 March 2011 Australia[54] Sony Music
Germany[55]
Ireland[56]
Netherlands[57]
Sweden[58]
7 March 2011 Brazil [59] Sony Music
Russia[60]
United Kingdom[61] Columbia Records
8 March 2011 Canada[62] RCA Records
Indonesia Sony Music
Mexico[63]
South Korea[64]
Taiwan[65]
United States[66] RCA Records
15 March 2011 Philippines[67] Sony Music
Ivory Music and Video
Chile Sony Music

Charts and certifications[edit]

Awards[edit]

Year Awards ceremony Award Results
2011 MTV Fan Music Awards Album of the Year Nominated
Gold Disc Award Hong Kong Best 10 Albums Won
2012 Japan Gold Disc Awards Best 3 Albums Won
Junior Awards Pop Album of the Year Nominated
Album of the Year Nominated

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