Avril Lavigne: Keeping her head above water

Thursday 8th November 2018

Tony Cummings reports on a surprise new entry to Billboard's Christian Airplay chart, AVRIL LAVIGNE

Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne

The entrance into Billboard's Christian Airplay chart of the comeback single by Canada's Avril Lavigne has shocked a lot of churchgoers. Isn't this the same singer who once cavorted onstage in micro mini and suspender belt, singing hits like "Hot" and "Girlfriend"? But the lyrics of her new hit song make it pretty clear that something profound has happened to the 34-year-old singer/songwriter.

The lyric goes, "God, keep my head above water/Don't let me drown, it gets harder/I'll meet you there at the altar/As I fall down to my knees/Don't let me drown, drown, drown/Don't let me, don't let me, don't let me drown."

On the release by BMG of "Head Above Water", which is the title track of her upcoming album, her sixth, Avril wrote about the powerful song written by Lavigne, Stephan Moccio and Travis Clark. "Those were the worst years of my life as I went through both physical and emotional battles. I was able to turn that fight into music I'm really proud of. I wrote songs in my bed and on the couch and recorded there mostly as well. Words and lyrics that were so true to my experience came pouring out of me effortlessly."

On 6th September, Lavigne posted a lengthy letter to her fans on her website, detailing her struggle with Lyme disease, and how she overcame it. She wrote in the letter, "I had accepted death and could feel my body shutting down. I felt like I was drowning. Like I was going under water and I just needed to come up for air. Like I was in a river being pulled in a current. Unable to breathe. Praying to God for him to help me just keep my head above the water. To help me see through the stormy weather."

Critical response to "Head Above Water" has been phenomenal. Marina Pedrosa of Billboard wrote that the song "is a powerful, spiritual epiphany detailing the Canadian singer's journey through her battle with Lyme disease." Robin Murray of Clash complimented the track's production and deemed it "[a] highly personal note." Murray described the song's lyrics and production in detail: "Now, we've never been 100% behind Avril Lavigne's music, but we can't help but be touched by the way she's approached what must be an enormously challenging situation." Writing for Spin, Anna Gaca described the track as a "dramatic piano ballad of resilience." Madeline Roth of MTV Canada named "Head Above Water" an "emotionally charged comeback." Roth was impressed with the fact that the song wasn't "just metaphorical" because "it documents a culminating moment in Lavigne's years-long struggle with Lyme disease." Katherine Gillespie from Paper wrote that "Head Above Water" is "heavy piano ballad about just that: trying to stay alive."

Lindsay Elizabeth of Faithwire gave the song a positive review, called it a "powerful worship ballad." Elizabeth further praised that "Lavigne details her relationship with God, and how he saved her when she thought she was at the end of her life." Michael Foust of Christian Headlines described the song as a "God-centric song" that even could be labelled "praise and worship", while Jody Rosen of Jezebel considered the song's nature as "dramatic Christian rock vibes" and comparing it to Rachel Platten's 2015 single "Fight Song". The song peaked at number one in 23 countries on iTunes Worldwide. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


 

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