Complicated (Avril Lavigne song)
International CD cover
|Single by Avril Lavigne|
|from the album Let Go|
|B-side||"I Don't Give"
|Released||14 May 2002
(see release history)
|Format||CD single, digital download|
|Writer(s)||Avril Lavigne, Lauren Christy, Scott Spock, Graham Edwards|
|Certification||2× Multi-Platinum (ARIA Charts)
Platinum(ABPD – Brazil)
|Avril Lavigne singles chronology|
"Complicated" is the debut single by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne, released in 2002 from her debut album, Let Go. It was written by Lavigne and The Matrix (Scott Spock, Lauren Christy, and Graham Edwards), and produced by The Matrix. The single reached number one in Australia (for six weeks), New Zealand and Mexico (for nine weeks), number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three in the United Kingdom. Based on its chart performance, the song is Lavigne's second most successful single (only behind her 2007 single "Girlfriend") and was one of the most successful releases of 2002. Lavigne broke a record set by Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" when "Complicated" held the number one spot on the Adult Top 40 chart for 16 weeks in a row. "Complicated" was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Background and release
After being signed to Arista Records in November 2000 upon the authorization of the label's CEO, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Lavigne moved to New York with the assistance of Reid. There, she began working on her debut album, Let Go, collaborating with a host of prime songwriters and producers. For six months, the label set up Lavigne with two co-writers, who worked with her upon Arista's instructions. Reid expected Lavigne to record folk songs because she auditioned to them in a "balladic, 'new country'" type. However, the collective failed to click "with a girl who'd just discovered guitar-based rock". For a year, nothing was working for Lavigne and was on the verge of getting dropped off Arista. The management pitched her songs written by other songwriters, but she declined, insisting she wanted to write songs herself. Lavigne relocated to Los Angeles, where she collaborated with songwriter-producer Clif Magness, who gave her ample creative control in the writing process. Lavigne and Magness wrote "Losing Grip" and "Unwanted", songs that she deemed reflective of her vision for the entire album. However, Arista was not thrilled with the heavy-guitar laden songs that Lavigne was writing, prompting the label to look for other producers to match their demands.
Two years since she signed the deal, Lavigne came to the attention of the three-piece production team The Matrix. Arista could not find the right direction for Lavigne, so the team's manager, Sandy Roberton, suggested that they work together. According to member Lauren Christy, they had been listening to Lavigne's early songs and felt they contained "a Faith Hill kind of vibe". As soon as they saw Lavigne coming into their studio, The Matrix felt that her musical direction was incongruous to her image and attitude. After talking to Lavigne for an hour, the singer said she wanted songs with punk rock inclinations. They told her to come back the following day, and in the afternoon during that day, they wrote a song that evolved into "Complicated" and another song called "Falling Down". They played it to Lavigne when she came back the following day, inspiring her what path she should take.
When Josh Sarubin, the A&R executive who signed Lavigne to the imprint, heard the song, he knew it was right for her. Lavigne presented the song to Reid, who agreed the musical direction Lavigne and The Matrix were taking, and set "Complicated" as the album's lead single.
Composition and lyrics
"Complicated" is a song about how people can feign or pretend in front of others. Lavigne said about the song: "People sometimes bother me how they're not real and how they're just, like, putting on a face and being two-faced". Lavigne stated that she experienced this with both boyfriends and female friends.
The video, directed by The Malloys, starts with Lavigne asking her bandmates if they want to "crash" the mall. They respond with enthusiasm, and skateboard there. The video features Lavigne and the band harassing shoppers and employees, generally causing havoc around the mall; for example, Lavigne watches her band try on humorous clothing which is fittingly shown as Lavigne sings the line "You come over unannounced, dressed up like you're something else".
This is intercut with footage of Lavigne performing the song at a skatepark while playing the guitar, with her band performing with her. People can be seen skateboarding around Lavigne as she and her band perform the song. As the line "You fall and you crawl..." is sung, a skateboarder can be seen falling over.
The video was shot at Eagle Rock Plaza, Los Angeles, in 2 days. During the shooting, the mall remained open.
In 2009, Rolling Stone Magazine readers voted "Complicated" as the eighth Top single of the decade. "Complicated" also ranked at #197 in Blender magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born". Billboard ranked it at No. 83 of the 'Top 100 Singles of the Decade'. In an AOL Radio listener's poll, "Complicated" was voted Lavigne's sixth best song.
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave the song a B- and said "Avril Lavigne's not kidding about that title, she's the epitome of the blossoming anti-Britney movement". Christina Saraceno of Allmusic described 'Complicated' as "a gem of a pop/rock tune with a killer chorus" and noted similarities between it and the Pink song "Don't Let Me Get Me". Saraceno highlighted the song as a "track pick" in a review of the album, Let Go.
On a more negative note, Sal Cinquemani of Slant magazine described 'Complicated' as "infectious" and "more poser than punk". In a review of Lavigne's second album, Under My Skin, David Browne of Entertainment Weekly noted that "Complicated felt like strung-together bits of Morissette songs".
As of September 2015 "Complicated" has sold 1.1 million digital copies in the US.
The Canadian single of "Complicated" has shipped over 100,000 copies in Canada, where the song has been awarded the gold and platinum single certifications by the CRIA for, respectively, shipments of at least 50,000 and 100,000 singles shipped.The single was certified 2× Platinum in Australia.
Awards and nominations
Lavigne won Best New Artist in a Video at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards for "Complicated". "Complicated" won in the Single of the Year category at the 2003 Juno Awards. In the United States, the song was nominated at the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Song of the Year; it lost both awards to Norah Jones's "Don't Know Why". In Brazil it was nominated in the category of best international video at the 2003 MTV Video Music Brazil.
|2002||MTV Video Music Awards||Best New Artist in a Video||Won|
|2003||Grammy Awards||Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Juno Awards||Single of the Year||Won|
|MTV Video Music Awards Japan||Best New Artist Video||Won|
|Video of the Year||Won|
|Best Female Video||Won|
|BMI Awards||Best Pop Song||Won|
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards||Best Pop Song||Won|
|Radio Music Awards||Song of the Year (Modern Adult Contemporary Radio)||Won|
|Ivor Novello Awards||International Hit of the Year||Won|
|Canadian Radio Music Awards||Best New "CHR" Solo||Won|
|Best New Solo "Mainstream AC / Hot AC"||Won|
|Socan Awards||Pop Music Award||Won|
|MTV Video Music Brasil||Best International Video||Won|
|2011||EVMA 2011||Video of the Decade||Won|
|Australia CD single|
|2.||"I Don't Give"||3:39|
|Canada, Mexico and United Kingdom CD single|
|2.||"I Don't Give"||3:39|
|4.||"Complicated" (music video)||4:14|
|Japan, France, Italy and Netherlands CD single|
|1.||"Complicated" (the Matrix remix)||4:08|
|2.||"I Don't Give"||3:39|
|United States CD single|
|1.||"Complicated" (Tom Lord-Alge remix)||4:08|
|2.||"Complicated" (the Matrix remix)||4:03|
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||15,000x|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000*|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Platinum||10,000*|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||20,000x|
|United States (RIAA)||1,100,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|United States||14 May 2002||Arista Records||CD, digital download|
|Europe||8 July 2002||Sony BMG|
|United Kingdom||23 September 2002||Arista Records|
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