Girlfriend (Avril Lavigne song)

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"Girlfriend"
Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend.png
Single by Avril Lavigne
from the album The Best Damn Thing
B-side"Alone"
Released27 February 2007 (2007-02-27)
Recorded2006
Genre
Length
  • 3:37 (album version)
  • 3:25 (Dr. Luke Remix)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Avril Lavigne singles chronology
"Keep Holding On"
(2006)
"Girlfriend"
(2007)
"When You're Gone"
(2007)
Music video
"Girlfriend" on YouTube

"Girlfriend" is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne. The song was written by Lavigne and Dr. Luke; the latter is also the producer. "Girlfriend" was released as the lead single from her third studio album, The Best Damn Thing (2007) on 27 February 2007 by Columbia and RCA Records.[1] Lyrically, the song revolves around its protagonist having a crush on someone who is in a relationship, proclaiming she should be his girlfriend. The song has been noted to have similarities to Toni Basil's 1982 single "Mickey", and The Rubinoos' 1979 single "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend". The songwriters of "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" sued Lavigne and Dr. Luke for copyright infringement; the suit was later settled.

"Girlfriend" received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its catchiness. The song was a worldwide success, peaking at the top spot of the charts in eight countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and was Lavigne's first number-one song in the United States, reaching the top on Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Top 40 Mainstream. It additionally charted in the top ten of most other countries. The song's accompanying music video, directed by The Malloys, sees Lavigne portraying three alter-egos, with all of them fighting over the same guy. In June 2007, the song's official remix, featuring American rapper Lil Mama, was released. Lavigne performed the song a number of times, including at the 2007 MuchMusic Video Awards, the 2007 Teen Choice Awards, and the 2008 Juno Awards.

The song's success made it a mainstay of pop music in the late 2000s. "Girlfriend" was certified multi-platinum in Australia and the United States. It was among the top-selling songs of 2007, with over 7.3 million worldwide sales. In 2008, the song became the most viewed video on YouTube, and was the first video on the site to reach 100 million views. Rolling Stone ranked the song number thirty-five on their "Top 100 Songs of 2007" list. Several versions of the song were released with the chorus sung in multiple languages. In 2010, the song was named the ninety-fourth most successful song on the Hot 100 in the 2000s decade. Allmusic highlighted the song as one of the most significant punk-pop songs of all time.[2] The song also received several awards, including Most Addictive Track at the MTV Europe Music Awards, Song of the Year at Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica, Choice Music: Single at Teen Choice Awards, the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Song and was nominated for Single of the Year at the Juno Awards.

Background and composition[edit]

Dr. Luke produced the song.

Following the release of her second studio album, Under My Skin (2004), Lavigne wanted to record more "fun and upbeat" music.[3] "Girlfriend" was written by Lavigne and Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, with Dr. Luke also producing the track. The song was written while Lavigne was intoxicated, with Lavigne commenting that the chorus only took two minutes to write.[4] Lavigne was initially hesitant to release "Girlfriend" as the lead single from The Best Damn Thing, referring to the song's conception as "just a joke."[5] The song was not based on a personal experience, with Lavigne opting to write about general topics to appeal to a wider audience. In December 2006, Lavigne announced the song as the lead single from her then-upcoming album:

Hey guys! I keep getting asked about my record and what it is called [...] so I wanted to give u guys all the info directly [...] I'm calling the record The Best Dam Thing, and the first single is called "Girlfriend", the single comes out February and the record in April. I promise you guys will love this record, it is my favorite one!!! And I can't wait! It is really fast, fun, young, bratty, aggressive, confident, cocky in a playful way [...] all the good stuff.[6]

In an effort to appeal to non-English markets, Lavigne recorded the song's chorus in seven different languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Japanese, and Mandarin.[7] Lavigne spent hours studying these different languages in order to ensure a correct pronunciation with her various deliveries. A Hindi version of the song was recorded twice, although it was scrapped due to issues with the diction and meter when converting the song's chorus from its Western rhythms to Hindi.[8] "Girlfriend" is a moderately fast pop punk,[9][10][11] and power pop[11] song. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Alfred Publishing, the song is written in the key of D major[12] and is set in time signature of common time with a tempo of 152 beats per minute.[13] Lavigne's vocal range spans two octaves, from A3 to D5.[13] Lyrically, the song is about wanting to steal someone's boyfriend.[4] Pop Matters compared the song with "Mickey" by Tony Basil.[14]

Songwriting claim[edit]

On 2 July 2007, the Rubinoos frontman Tommy Dunbar and songwriter James Gangwer filed a lawsuit for infringement of copyright against Lavigne, Dr. Luke, RCA Records, and Apple.[15] Dunbar and Gangwer alleged that "Girlfriend" plagiarized the Rubinoos' 1979 single "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend".[16] Lavigne denied these accusations and noted the common usage of the lyrics employed in both songs; she cited the Rolling Stones' "Get Off of My Cloud" and the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" as songs with similar lyrics.[15] Dr. Luke claimed that neither he nor Lavigne had heard of the Rubinoos prior to the lawsuit and that he would be willing to take a polygraph if doing so would help to disprove Dunbar's claims.[17] Lavigne's manager, Terry McBride, similarly refuted the allegations, referring to Dunbar and Gangwer's claims as baseless.[18]

Both Dunbar and McBride consulted musicologists to prepare reports on the similarities and dissimilarities between the songs. Dunbar's musicologist reported that there was an "unusually high degree of similarity" between the songs while McBride's musicologist reported that they do not share any significant lyrical or melodic content.[17] While McBride contended that the songs were dissimilar, he acknowledged that Lavigne would be willing to settle the case to avoid expensive legal proceedings.[18] In January 2008, Dunbar and Gangwer's attorney, Nicholas Carlin, confirmed that a confidential settlement had been reached between the two parties, but refused to comment further.[19] However, Dunbar and Gangwer later released a joint statement on 15 January 2008 in which they claimed to "completely exonerate" Lavigne and Dr. Luke from any wrongdoing.[20] Following the settlement, Lavigne commented: "Well, [Dunbar and Gangwer] didn't win. But that happens all the time in the music business. I am not the first artist nor will I be the last to go through this."[21]

Critical reception[edit]

"Girlfriend" was compared with "Mickey" by American singer Toni Basil.

Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone called it a "hypercatchy, giant-sounding 'Hey Mickey' tribute", and commented that the song is one of the album's "monster pleasures".[22] Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly noted the popularity of the song, referring to Lavigne as an "alpha female out to steal a stud from a meek rival who’s 'like, so whatever'".[23] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic highlighted the song as a 'track pick' in a review of the album, The Best Damn Thing.[24] He praised the album for opening with "Girlfriend", describing the song as a "bright bubblegum blast".[24] Jon Pareles of The New York Times also highlighted "Girlfriend" as the best song off of The Best Damn Thing, commenting that it used "cleverly manipulated echoes and attacks to sound as if Ms. Lavigne were charging in from all directions".[25] Jody Rosen of Slate referred to "Girlfriend" as "brash and catchy", praising the song's "shout-along vocals, power chords, [and] hand claps amplified to sound like an army on the march".[26]

According to Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine, the song employs "a catchy, cheerleader stomp a la Tony Basil's 'Mickey'", although Lavigne's "attempts at sounding irreverent ... just wind up sounding juvenile".[27] Laura Snapes of The Guardian also compared "Girlfriend" to "Mickey", referring to the song as a "deadpan cheerleader banger". Also from The Guardian, Alex Macpherson labeled the song as "brilliantly addictive".[28] Tim O'Neil of PopMatters felt that the chorus of the song "blatantly rips the hook from Toni Basil's 'Mickey'", although he also stated that the song has a "torturous propensity to get stuck in your head".[29] Joan Anderman of The Boston Globe praised the catchy hook of "Girlfriend", commenting that "It sounds great -- fizzy and snotty and unbelievable catchy".[30] MuchMusic attributed the success of the song to the mix of various genres, stating: "[Lavigne] can succeed in punk, rock and pop with her bubblegum anthem 'Girlfriend'".[31] At the Juno Awards of 2008, "Girlfriend" garnered Lavigne a nomination in the Single of the Year category. The song also garnered Lavigne two wins at the 2008 Japan Gold Disc Awards in the Mastertone of the Year and Single Track of the Year (Mobile) categories. The song was ranked at number 35 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.[32] MTV Asia ranked the song as the 77th top song of 2007, while MTV Latin America listed "Girlfriend" as the number one song of 2007.[33] Billboard ranked the song as the twelfth best song of 2007.

Chart performance[edit]

Because of digital download sales in excess of 122,000, the song debuted at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, the highest debut of her career.[34] Afterwards it became Lavigne's first song to reach number one on the Hot 100, in the issue dated 5 May 2007; her previous highest peak on the chart was with 2002's "Complicated", which reached number two.[35] It remained in the top ten for 18 weeks, which was two more than the year-end number-one single of 2007, Irreplaceable.[36] It became the last number one hit on that chart by a Canadian female artist until 2012's "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen. In Canada, the song debuted at number 1. As of September 2015, "Girlfriend" has sold 3.8 million copies in the United States.[37]

In Japan, the song has been certified Million for more than 1,000,000 sales through ringtones and 3× Platinum for 750,000 sales. Thus, the song has sold more than 3,000,000 copies there making it the best-selling single by a western female artist of all time on Japan.[citation needed] "Girlfriend" debuted on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart at number three. The following week it reached number-one, and it remained at the top for six non-consecutive weeks, equalling Lavigne's previous number-one single on the ARIA Charts, "Complicated". After three weeks on the charts, it was certified gold by ARIA, then platinum after seven weeks for sales in excess of 70,000 copies.[38] It was then certified double platinum, with sales in excess of 140,000. In 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum for sales of 280,000.[39] On the UK Singles Chart, "Girlfriend" peaked at number two, surpassing "Complicated" as Lavigne's highest-peaking single on the chart. The song ended 2007 as the years 20th biggest-selling single in the UK and spent 28 weeks inside the chart and is Lavigne's biggest hit in the UK to date.[40] It became the best selling song of 2007 worldwide with around five million copies outside the US. To date, "Girlfriend" has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Music video[edit]

Development and concept[edit]

Lavigne as three of her alter-egos in the video for "Girlfriend".

The music video was directed by The Malloys and filmed at Golf N' Stuff in Norwalk, California. They praised the video for "sounding different than most female artist at the time and for its very punk rock-pop feel, something she does better than anybody."[41]

The music video features two girls both played by Lavigne: one with glasses and red hair, and one with a rebellious persona and black hair. The video begins inside a family fun entertainment center where the red-haired Lavigne and her boyfriend are walking together. The black-haired Lavigne sees her and shows her an intimidating disposition, to which the former ignores. As the couple walk away, the black-haired Lavigne begins to sing the song and tries her luck on the red-haired Lavigne's boyfriend. Featured in the video are scenes of black-haired Lavigne fighting over the man with the red-haired Lavigne and trying to outdo her repeatedly. Between the scenes we see Lavigne, now with pink-streaked blonde hair, singing with her band accompanying her at the back. The video also featured this Lavigne and her friends dancing in a restroom.

After the starting scene, the video shows them at Li'l Indy, where they ride go-carts. Here, black-haired Lavigne is seen viciously bumping the car of the red-haired Lavigne, causing her to spin around and lose control. Next, the red-haired Lavigne and her boyfriend get inside a photo booth where black-haired Lavigne slips in and pulls the red-haired Lavigne out of the booth before the booth takes the pictures. Black-haired Lavigne's friends then block the red-haired Lavigne's way (by positioning themselves at the booth entrance) to give the black-haired Lavigne time in the booth.

The couple are now seen sharing a churro stick together, where black-haired Lavigne sees them yet again, throws the churro stick away and kisses the red-haired girl's boyfriend, much to the latter's surprise and anger. It is nighttime when the couple decide to head over to a miniature golf course to while away some time playing, where the red-haired Lavigne cheerfully wins.

Unfortunately for her, the black-haired Lavigne and her friends happen to be present at the venue as well. As soon as she and her friends see them, black-haired Lavigne hits her in the head with a golf ball, resulting in the red-haired Lavigne splashing down into the water. Her boyfriend tries to grab her hand but misses, to black-haired Lavigne's amusement. Finally, the man, who eventually develops feelings for black-haired Lavigne, is seen waiting for her. As she comes toward him, they soon hold hands together, but red-haired Lavigne sees this and attempts to seize black-haired Lavigne. But black-haired Lavigne and the man manage to dodge her, and in her attempt to win back her boyfriend, she tumbles all the way down and lands in a portable toilet ahead, where she gives a look of desperation towards the camera, showing she has failed to do so, and signalling that black-haired Lavigne has finally won the man's affections. Blonde Lavigne then takes her new boyfriend into a bathroom stall and slightly opens the door after a moment and pumps her arm in victory.

Lavigne's boyfriend in the video is played by American model Bryan McMullin and dresses similarly to the "rocker" Lavigne in the video. The video features Lavigne's previous guitarist Evan Taubenfeld, and Lavigne's brother Matt on bass.[42]

Lil Mama and Lavigne shot a video for the remix of "Girlfriend", which was directed by R. Malcolm Jones.[43]

Reception[edit]

On 18 July 2008, "Girlfriend" became the most viewed video at that time on YouTube[44] and in August of that year, surpassed 100 million views, becoming the only YouTube video available at that time to reach that milestone (although CSS's "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex" had reached that milestone a couple months before, it has been removed from the website under accusations that the views had been fraudulent).[45][46] The YouTube video of the song was accused of having an exaggerated number of views due to the use of a web link posted by AvrilBandaids, a fansite devoted to Lavigne.[47] Clicking on the link would automatically reload the YouTube video of "Girlfriend" every fifteen seconds. Fans of Lavigne were encouraged to: "Keep this page open while you browse the internet, study for exams, or even sleep. For extra viewing power, open up two or more browser windows at this page!"[48] However, the fansite later revealed that no "cheating" had taken place, and that the link had merely been a ruse to draw more attention to the video, thereby attracting additional views. It is expected that Lavigne's YouTube video views have earned in excess of US$2,000,000.[citation needed] In November 2009, RCA Records removed the video of the song from YouTube, by which time it had received around 130 million views.[49] A new upload of the music video uploaded on 3 October 2009 is now officially hosted on Lavigne's official channel on YouTube, with over 570 million views and 3 million likes as of October 2021.[50]

The song is featured on the soundtrack to the video game Burnout Dominator in four different languages which includes Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin and English.[51] The song is also featured in Burnout Paradise which only includes the English Version.[52]

The BBC Chart Show reported a sharp divide in reaction to the video.[53] A criticism of the video was that it was damaging to Lavigne's claims to integrity by imitating younger girls' fashions and encouraging poaching of boyfriends from other girls.[53]

Accolades[edit]

Awards for "Girlfriend"
Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2007
Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica Song of the Year Won [54]
MTV Europe Music Awards Most Addictive Track Won [55]
MTV Video Music Awards Monster Single of the Year Nominated [56]
MuchMusic Video Awards Best International Video By A Canadian Won [57]
People's Choice Favourite Canadian Artist Won
Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards Fave Song Nominated [58]
Nickelodeon UK Kids' Choice Awards MTV Hits Best Music Video Won [59]
Planeta Awards Pop/Hip Hop Song of the Year Nominated [60]
Premios Oye! Main English Song of the Year Nominated [61]
Radio Disney Music Awards Best Song Nominated [62][63]
Best Song to Dance Won
Best Song to Sing to an Ex Nominated
Best Video That Rocks Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Music: Single Won [64]
Virgin Media Music Awards Best Track Nominated [65]
2008
ASCAP Pop Music Awards Most Performed Song Won [66]
Capricho Awards Best Video at YouTube Nominated [67]
Japan Gold Disc Awards Mastertone of the Year Won [68]
Single Track of the Year (Mobile) Won
Juno Awards Single of the Year Nominated [69]
MTV Asia Awards Best Hook-up Nominated [70]
MTV Italian Music Awards Best Number One of the Year Nominated [71]
MTV Video Music Awards Japan Best Pop Video Won [72]
Best Karaokee! Song Nominated
MuchMusic Video Awards MuchMusic.com Most Watched Video Nominated [73]
Myx Music Awards Favorite International Video Nominated [74]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Song Won [75]
RTHK International Pop Poll Award Top Ten International Gold Songs Won [76]
SOCAN Awards SOCAN Salutes Indicates non-competitive categories Won [77]
Pop/Rock Music Award Won

Live performances[edit]

Lavigne performed the song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on 15 June 2007.[78] She also performed on Saturday Night Live.[citation needed]

Track listings and formats[edit]

1 A code was included on the CD to download the ringtone online.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits and personnel are adapted from The Best Damn Thing album liner notes.[85]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[141] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[142] Gold 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[143] Gold 25,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[144] Platinum 60,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[145]
Ringtone
2× Platinum 80,000*
Italy 25,000[146]
Japan (RIAJ)[147] Million (Ringtone) 1,000,000^
3× Platinum (Track) 750,000^
Gold (PC) 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[148] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[150] Platinum 535,000[149]
United States (RIAA)[151] 2× Platinum 3,800,000[37]
Platinum (Ringtone) 1,000,000^
Summaries
Worldwide (IFPI) 7,300,000[128]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States March 20, 2007 Contemporary hit radio RCA [152]
Japan March 21, 2007 CD single Sony [153]
Germany March 30, 2007 [154]
United Kingdom April 2, 2007 [155]

Zebrahead version[edit]

"Girlfriend"
Zebrahead Girlfriend.png
Single by Zebrahead
from the album Panty Raid
Released20 September 2009
RecordedMarch–April 2009
GenrePop punk, rap rock
Length3:05
LabelSony BMG
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Cameron Webb, Matt Beckley
Zebrahead singles chronology
"The Juggernauts"
(2008)
"Girlfriend"
(2009)
"Underneath It All"
(2010)
Music video
"Girlfriend" on YouTube

In September 2009, American punk rock band Zebrahead released "Girlfriend" as the first single off their album Panty Raid, which was released on 4 November 2009 in Japan and 8 December in the rest of the world. It peaked in the Hot Modern Rock Tracks in the first week in the No. 84 position.

The music video of the song was released in 2009 and is a parody of the original "Girlfriend" video, with band members Ali playing the "Bad Avril" and Matty playing the good one.[156]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
position
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[157] 83

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]