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, released first on 2 March 2011, being her last release under RCA Records. The album was released four years after the release of her earlier album The Best Damn Thing (2007), being pushed back several times. Recording sessions began in November 2008, and took place over a period of almost two years, concluding in October 2010.

"Goodbye Lullaby" themes deal mainly with heartbreak, exploring what it means to push through the tough times and emerge stronger for it, containing mainly stripped down instruments, such as the piano and acoustic guitar. Lavigne co-wrote every track on the album, with herself producing two song alone. She also worked with producers Max Martin, Shellback, Butch Walker and her former husband Deryck Whibley.

The album received generally mixed reviews from music critics, with some calling it "one of her most personal and introspective albums to date", while many criticized it for being "unfun, affected and an ineffectual attempt at a serious pop record." The album debuted inside the top five in over 15 countries such as the United States and Canada, topping the charts in over eight countries, such as Australia, Greece, Hong Kong and Japan.

Three singles were released from the album. The album's lead single, "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". Lavigne promoted the album with a series of live performances, including her The Black Star Tour (2011).

Background and release[edit]

"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[5]

After releasing her fourth studio album, The Best Damn Thing (2007), Avril Lavigne enjoyed a lot of commercial success, mainly due to its lead-single, "Girlfriend" (a number-one hit in over six countries)[6] and its successful worldwide tour, The Best Damn Tour (2008). In September 2009, it was reported that Lavigne and husband Deryck Whibley were separating. The same day, MTV News reported that he was working with her on the follow-up album to The Best Damn Thing.[7] They used their home studio to produce eight of the nine tracks she initially recorded for the album. "I think this is taking the spirit of what she’s done on previous records so much further," he said. "It’s way more meaningful, has more of an impact, more emotional. It makes me feel something more than the other stuff. And I wanted to match that musically with the track."[8]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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."[10] In August 2010, Lavigne returned to Henson Recording Studios[11] with producer Alex da Kid. During these sessions, Lavigne had strep throat, and the people involved were required to wear surgical masks.[12] 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."[11] She revealed that she had been "trying new stuff" and that she was "exploring". Lavigne added that she had enough material for two records.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] 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".[5] The entire track listing for the album was revealed on 21 December 2010,[15] after some were announced in early December.[16][17]

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.[8] 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. Recording began with minimal instruments, usually starting with Lavigne singing only to acoustic guitar, with additional instruments added later. 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."[16]

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."[18] By July 2009, nine tracks had been recorded,[8] 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.[19] 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."[20]

In addition to working with Deryck Whibley in the majority of the songs, Lavigne also produced two songs on her own and worked for the first time with Max Martin and Shellback. "What was really great about working with Max was, I flew out to Sweden for a couple weeks, sat down, played him my record, got to know each other, wrote some songs together, and then I was out," she told MTV News. "It switched it up for me. It was a new creative space, a new relationship, and we got a lot done. He's very talented."[21] Lavigne's longtime collaborators Evan Taubenfield and Butch Walker co-wrote and produced some of the tracks as well.[19] 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".[22] 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".[23]

Composition and themes[edit]

Lavigne during a performance in Florida, May 2011.

"Goodbye Lullaby" deals with themes of heartbreak and was heavily influenced on Lavigne's relationship with her ex-husband Deryck Whibley. Lavigne described the album as being about how we all go through difficult experiences, whether it’s ending a relationship, losing a job, or just missing someone.[16] 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."[24] The album serves as a return to Lavigne's older musical style and is largely acoustic.[19] 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".[25] 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."[24] For Adam R. Holz of Plugged In, "these mellow acoustic songs paint a mournful, lamenting picture of a woman trying to sort through why her marriage failed."[26]

Songs[edit]

The album opens with the intro "Black Star", which lasts for 1 minute and 34 seconds, and was described by Rolling Stone as "an ethereal lullaby that turns epic with tinkling Coldplay-like pianos and soaring strings."[24] The second track and first single off the album, "What the Hell", was described by Lavigne herself as "a broad message about personal freedom",[27] calling it her "most pop track on the record", the least personal song from the album[14] and the song most reminiscent of her previous work.[20] In "Push", she forcefully tells a guy to stop complaining about how hard it can be to make a relationship work,[26] while the power ballad "Wish You Were Here"[28] shows Lavigne's vulnerable side,[29] and according to Spin's Mikael Wood, "talks about her recent divorce from Deryck Whibley.[30] The other upbeat, pop rock track "Smile", finds Lavigne referring to herself as a "crazy bitch"[31] and expressing her gratitude for special people in her life.[29] The sixth track "Stop Standing There", written only by herself, has been described as having an "early- '50s girl-group feel", while lyrically it finds Lavigne imploring a hesitant suitor to confess his affection.[26]

The seventh track "I Love You" fondly reminisces about how Avril loved getting drunk with her ex, among other things, while "Everybody Hurts" ponders why things turned out as they have and longs for a second chance.[26] For Andy Greenwald of Entertainment Weekly, "Not Enough" is a raw confessional track,[32] while "4 Real", written and produced by herself, concerns about authenticity in a lover, with Lavigne insisting that her partner be "4 real," because everything feels right.[33] Acoustic guitar and piano, as well as an orchestra are used in "Darlin'", "Remember When" and "Goodbye". "Darlin'" was written when Lavigne was 14 years old.[34] "Whenever I hear ‘Darlin,’ I think of the family room I wrote it in and playing it for my mom," she says. "So it’s really special for me to have it on the album."[16] "Remember When" realizes that the breaking of what's supposed to be an eternal bond has serious emotional consequences as it captures the ache of post-divorce loneliness.[26] The final track "Goodbye" talks about finding the strength to close one chapter of her life and move on to the next.[29] Lavigne stated that it was the most personal song she has ever wrote and was the inspiration for the album's title.[23] The hidden track "Alice" was made for Tim Burton's film fantasy Alice in Wonderland, which was included on the compilation album Almost Alice.[16] The album's version differs lyrically from the soundtrack's.[26]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (58/100)[35]
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 3/5 stars[33]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[36]
The A.V. Club (C-)[37]
Digital Spy 4/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B-[32]
The Globe and Mail 1.5/4 stars[38]
PopMatters (5/10)[39]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[28]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[31]
Spin (5/10)[30]

Goodbye Lullaby received most mixed reviews from music critics based on aggregate score of 58 from Metacritic.[35] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic compared Goodbye Lullaby to Under My Skin, citing the divorce from Deryck Whibley as "the occasion for introspection". However, he noticed 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."[36] Likewise, Andy Greenwald of Entertainment Weekly thought that the album "seeks a balance," since "the first half is loaded with glossy confections, while the second consists of quieter reflections clearly inspired by Deryck Whibley, her ex-husband." Giving a grade of B-, Greenwald found out that the singer "seems to be desperate to share her artistic interior, which is far from fully formed."[32] Bill Lamb from About.com echoed the same thought, writing that the album is "very downbeat and subdued," praising the two songs produced by herself, but ultimately calling it "a bit like a wasted moment in time."[33] Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars, calling it "a strident, ineffectual attempt at a serious pop record."[31] Josh Langhoff of PopMatters found problems with its lyrics, pointing out that "she’s an artist who benefits from collaboration."[39] Writing for the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail Robert Everett-Green also criticized the lyrics, writing that, "The songs contain little to catch the ear of anyone who isn’t already a fan. This is disposable, industrial pop, short on invention and buffed to a high gloss."[38]

In contrast to the mixed reviews, Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, highlighting its production, calling it "a solid collection of tunes that neatly ties together the sounds of her last three records: the angst of 'Let Go', the raw emotion of 'Under My Skin' and the pop hooks of 'The Best Damn Thing'."[1] Billboard Magazine was also favorable, naming the album "the songstress' most intimate and soul-baring set to date."[40] Jon Pareles from The New York Times was also positive, expressing that "on Goodbye Lullaby, she's trying to be a little more expansive, vocally and emotionally, without leaving pop territory". Pareles positively pointed out 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".[41] Giving 3 stars out of 5, Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone was impressed that the album "is lovelorn and introspective, full of gusty tunes with a surprising message: Avril cares".[28] Margaret Wappler of Los Angeles Times found issues "when Lavigne compartmentalizes her softer side, to the point where it eclipses her finger-jabbing cheekiness."[42]

Commercial performance[edit]

Upon its release, the album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of over 87,000.[43] It became her first studio album to not debut inside the top-three.[43] In its second week, the album dropped to number 7 on the chart selling over 32,000 copies.[44] In its third week, the album dropped to number 24.[45] The album has spent a total of twenty six weeks on the Billboard 200,[46] and has sold over 362,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, as of March 2013.[47] While in the United Kingdom, where all of her three consecutive albums debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart, "Goodbye Lullaby" only managed to debut at number 9, remaining on the chart for only six weeks; her lowest was 'Under My Skin' with 34 weeks.[48] As of May 2012, the album has sold around 74,000 copies in the UK.[citation needed]

On 10 March 2011, Goodbye Lullaby debuted at number two[49] on the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart, with sales of 130,000 copies in its opening week[50] – 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. During the first three months, the album sold over 250,000 copies in Japan, receiving Platinum certification.[51] As of June 2011, the album had sold over 336,000 copies.[52] In Canada, the album also ended her strike of consecutive number-one albums, debuting at number 2, with sales of 13,000 copies.[53]

In Australia, the album topped the ARIA Albums Chart, becoming her third non-consecutive number-one album and her first since "Under My Skin".[54] Likewise, in Portugal, the album became her best album on the charts since "Under My Skin", peaking at number 5. In Spain, the album performed well, debuting at number 4, becoming her highest charting-album there.[54] "Goodbye Lullaby" was the 39th best-selling album worldwide of 2011, with sales of 1,300,500 copies.[55] As of late 2013 it has sold over 2.000.000 copies worldwide.[citation needed]

Promotion[edit]

Lavigne during a performance in Belo Horizonte, August 2011

To promote the album, Lavigne went to a lot of TV shows, such as The Today Show, on March 8, 2011, The View, on March 9, 2011. The singer also went to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, on March 14, 2011, and Jimmy Kimmel Live, on March 15, 2011. In all TV shows, she performed the single "What the Hell". She also went to Chelsea Lately for an interview, on March 21, 2011.[56] She also promoted the album in Australia, performing at the World Famous Rooftop.[57] Lavigne also travelled to the United Kingdom to perform on the BBC'S Radio 1 Live Lounge, singing "What the Hell" and Kesha's "Tik Tok".[58]

To further promote the album, Lavigne embarked on her fourth worldwide tour, The Black Star Tour, in April 2011, starting in Asia. Lavigne completed the tour in February 2012, bringing the Goodbye Lullaby album cycle to a close.[59]

Singles[edit]

Lavigne premiered the lead single, "What the Hell", on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on 31 December 2010[17] during a pre-taped segment along with a performance of "Girlfriend".[23] 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."[20] The following day, "What the Hell" was available as a free download for 48 hours from Lavigne's official Facebook page.[60] The video for the single was released in January 2011.[14] The song was a success in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, reaching the top-ten, while it reached the top-twenty in France, the United Kingdom and the United States.[61]

Lavigne asked her fans via Twitter what the next single should be, giving the choices between "Push" and "Smile",[62][63] with "Smile" ultimately being chosen as the second release.[63] It was released worldwide on 6 May 2011[64] and its music video features scenes of Avril on a studio set which she decorated herself with color spray bombs, posters and a few props, while she goes around picking up the pieces of broken hearts in people who are otherwise unhappy.[65] The song was a very moderate success on the charts, only reaching the top-forty in Australia, Austria, Germany and New Zealand. In the U.S., it only reached number 68.[66]

Lavigne confirmed in July 2011 that "Wish You Were Here" would become the third and final single from Goodbye Lullaby, released on 9 September 2011.[67] Previously charting in the US and Canada through downloads alone, when the album was released in March 2011, the song performed very modesty as a single, only reaching number 64 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart and number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100.[68] The song's music video, directed by Marc Webb, features Avril very emotional in a room, looking sad, lighting flora on fire and dunking her head underwater in a bathtub.[69]

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.[70] 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.[71]

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
14. "Alice" (hidden track) Lavigne Walker 5:00
Notes
  • Song lengths, writing credits and producing credits taken from the Goodbye Lullaby liner notes and Allmusic.[78][36]
  • 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.[79]

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

Release history[edit]

Date Region Label
2 March 2011 Japan[116][117] Sony Music Japan
4 March 2011 Australia[118] Sony Music
Germany[119]
Ireland[120]
Netherlands[121]
Sweden[122]
7 March 2011 Brazil [123] Sony Music
Russia[124]
United Kingdom[125] Columbia Records
8 March 2011 Canada[126] RCA Records
Indonesia Sony Music
Mexico[127]
South Korea[128]
Taiwan[129]
United States[130] RCA Records
15 March 2011 Philippines[131] Sony Music
Ivory Music and Video
Chile Sony Music

References[edit]

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