“She can do it all, from heartfelt ballads to in-your-face pop-punk rebel songs.” Every Avril Lavigne album ranked from worst to best

Avril Lavigne
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Avril Lavigne was seemingly inescapable during the early noughties, after gatecrashing charts worldwide with her debut album Let Go, and its brilliant unholy trinity of opening singles, Complicated, Sk8er Boi and and I'm With You

It was the perfect start for the young Canadian star, who'd first auditioned for American record executive L.A. Reid at just 15 years old, securing a lucrative two-record, million-dollar-plus deal with Arista.

Six albums down the line, as she proved with her recent acclaimed Glastonbury festival performance, Lavigne continues to be an iconic presence in the music scene, hailed as an influence by a generation of younger artists, including Olivia Rodrigo, Rina Sawayama, and Billie Eilish, who posted a picture of the pair on Instagram in July 2019 with the caption 'THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME WHAT I AM.'

Here are the singer/songwriter's seven studio albums ranked from worst to best.

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7. Head Above Water (2019)

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Head Above Water

(Image credit: BMG)

A battle with Lyme disease forced Lavigne out of the public eye following the release of her self-titled fifth album in 2013, which helps explain the sombre, therapeutic mood of her comeback album.

The emotional title track Head Above Water is the album's highlight, gently revisiting her past trauma, while Tell Me It’s Over too is a captivating listen, especially if you’re looking for a vulnerable Taylor Swift-sounding melody. An unexpected collaboration with Nicki Minaj on Dumb Blonde, motivated by a past incident of misogyny, also works better than you might imagine.

A necessary and important album for the singer, Head Above Water is the medicine she needed to heal and find fun in music again, but, understandably, she’s far from fully firing here.

Avril Lavigne - Dumb Blonde (featuring Nicki Minaj) (Official Video) - YouTube Avril Lavigne - Dumb Blonde (featuring Nicki Minaj) (Official Video) - YouTube
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6. Avril Lavigne (2013)

Avril Lavigne

(Image credit: Epic)

Inconsistent, slight immature, and heavily shaped by the singer's high-profile relationship with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, who she married four months prior to its release, the highlight of Avril Lavigne is Let Me Go, a power ballad duet between the Canadian lovebirds, long since gig-retired for understandable reasons.

Martin Johnson, of Boys Like Girls, also worked on the album, contributing to songs such as 17 and the anthemic, rebellious Here’s to Never Growing Up. But, in contrast to what opening track Rock N Roll hints at, the album leans heavily into bubblegum pop, exemplified by the uninspiring Bitchin’ Summer, which lists almost every American high-school cliché you can think of. It's all easier to like than to love.

Avril Lavigne - Let Me Go (Official Video) ft. Chad Kroeger - YouTube Avril Lavigne - Let Me Go (Official Video) ft. Chad Kroeger - YouTube
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5. Goodbye Lullaby (2011)

Goodbye Lullaby

(Image credit: RCA)

Lavigne's fourth album saw a subtle transition into a new chapter for the singer as she hit her mid-20s, incorporating gentler, acoustic tones. While the energetic What the Hell showcases her signature troublesome swagger and a bratty cover of Joan Jett's Bad Reputation is an inspired choice, the likes of Wish You Were Here, Everybody Hurts and Push, possibly influenced by Lavigne nursing a broken heart, are some of the best non-punk tracks in her back catalogue.

With superstar hit maker Max Martin, Swedish producer Shellback, Butch Walker and Sum 41's Deryck Whibley all involved, presumably at considerable expense, Goodbye Lullaby is a solid consolidation of the Lavigne brand, but there are more exciting entries elsewhere in her catalogue.

Bad Reputation - YouTube Bad Reputation - YouTube
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4. Love Sux (2022)

Love Sux

(Image credit: DTA Records)

Returning to pop-punk for the first time in a decade and a half, Love Sux, largely co-written by Goldfinger's John Feldmannis very consciously redolent of Lavigne’s earlier days. The only problem being that it’s never quite the same second time round.

Bite Me was a major nostalgia blast, bolstered by her increasing TikTok following, while F.U. with Blink-182’s Travis Barker, boss of Lavigne's new label DTA Records, drumming, also stands out due to its chaotic approach. Blink's Mark Hoppus also gets a feature on upbeat throwback All I Wanted.

Sure, it’s a little cheesy at times, with Lavigne, now in her mid-30s, singing repetitive lyrics about boys lying and love sucking, but after such a wait, it's nice to have a reminder of what made the world fall in love with the pop punk princess.

Avril Lavigne Performs ‘Bite Me’ ft. Travis Barker - YouTube Avril Lavigne Performs ‘Bite Me’ ft. Travis Barker - YouTube
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3. The Best Damn Thing (2007)

The Best Damn Thing

(Image credit: Sony BMG)

Following on from the 10-million-selling Under My Skin, the bar couldn’t have been higher for The Best Damn Thing.

After significant band personnel changes, the record steers away from previous post-grunge themes, exemplified by the ultra-hooky Girlfriend, co-written with Pink/Kelly Clarkson/Katy Perry songwriter/producer Dr. Luke, both the best and worst decision Lavigne ever made. One on hand, it matched Complicated as her most successful hit, on the other, it brought her rock reputation into question, planting her in the same bracket as other generic pop stars. HotContagious and I Can Do Better are all far more credible individually. Whatever, it sold five million copies in a year, and it was a while before we got another record of this quality.

Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend (Official Video) - YouTube Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend (Official Video) - YouTube
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2. Under My Skin (2004)

Under My Skin

(Image credit: Arista)

Featuring some of Lavigne’s finest material to date, Under My Skin had the almost-impossible job of following the 16-million-selling Let Go. Deciding where to go next would undoubtedly have been a real predicament for the young Canadian: management were whispering pop superstar dreams in her ear, while distancing from her previous record would have guaranteed carnage. Ultimately, Lavigne  managed to locate the middle ground, evolving into a darker and raw sound, whilst holding onto the magic ingredients that made her debut such a phenomenon.

Crowd-pleasers My Happy Ending and Nobody’s Home pushed Under My Skin to number one on the US Billboard 200, with under-appreciated gems Fall To Pieces and Freak Out helping to justified the album’s dominance. It does feel slightly uncomfortable not putting this one top spot, but...

Avril Lavigne - My Happy Ending (Official Video) - YouTube Avril Lavigne - My Happy Ending (Official Video) - YouTube
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1. Let Go (2002)

Let Go

(Image credit: Arista)

Let Go shook the music scene when it emerged in 2002, not only providing a welcome, alternative getaway from Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera but also rivalling pop-punk stars Good Charlotte and The Offspring.

Lavigne could do it all, from heartfelt pop ballads like I’m With You and Tomorrow to in-your-face pop-punk rebel songs, such as the iconic Sk8er Boi. Then there’s Complicated,  it's legendary millennial status secured through lyrics such as “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated? / I see the way you’re actin’ like you’re somebody else / Gets me frustrated.” The addition of I Don’t Give, heard in American Pie: The Wedding, and Why, originally a Japan-only bonus track, make the 20th Anniversary Edition even better. Not that the original, a fusion of pop-punk and alternative rock, is anything less than a masterpiece.

Avril Lavigne - Sk8er Boi (Glastonbury 2024) - YouTube Avril Lavigne - Sk8er Boi (Glastonbury 2024) - YouTube
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Owen Cummings

Owen Cummings is a Herefordshire-based freelance music journalist, sports writer, broadcaster and guitarist. Specialising in modern-classic rock bands of the ’90s and post-millennium including the Foo Fighters and Oasis, he is also an upcoming local musician and gear expert, favouring the Gibson Les Paul and PRS SE models.