By RANI CHOR
It is hard to “keep calm” about Avril Lavigne’s new single.
On Sept. 19, Canadian guitarist and “Pop Punk Queen” Avril Lavigne dropped her latest track, “Head Above Water.” The single gives a glimpse of Lavigne’s forthcoming sixth album for which no details have been released.
Although it has been five years away from the spotlight, Lavigne has recaptured her audience with this heartbreaking song inspired by her difficult struggle against lyme disease —a severe bacterial infection spread by ticks that causes serious pain and chronic fatigue.
In totality, “Head Above Water” is an ethereal sounding ballad that soulfully illustrates her rise from the ashes, and how she grew stronger from that fight.
In the song, dramatic piano music in the background combined with the intense emotion behind her voice makes the melody as fluid as the title suggests. The lyrics are powerful and deeply emotional, relating Lavigne’s sickness to the feeling of drowning.
“I’ve gotta keep the calm before the storm,” Lavigne sings. “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.” Every voice break and breath is heard above the somber music, suggesting that she is healthier and stronger than ever.
However, Lavigne is positive that the remarkable recovery this song suggests is not over yet. In an interview earlier this month, Lavigne says that she “will do everything to get back up on stage” but expects fans to be “patient” along the way. Her statement not only shows her devotion to her music, but her perseverance in life.
Moreover, this song exemplifies how Lavigne’s experience has affected her music career. Essentially, the song is a beginning of a new era that consists of self-healing.
Though “Head Above Water” is about Lavigne’s battle with Lyme disease, anyone who has ever been bedridden or dealt with a chronic illness should be able to relate. Despite this, the song lacks substance. At times, the song proves to be predictable, and the lyrics generic. Nevertheless, unlike other songs that are substantially based on the aim of public sympathy, Lavigne’s song comes from a vulnerable place.
Diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015, Lavigne was in between the Asia and South America part of her tour when symptoms began to occur. The disease is usually treatable with antibiotics, leaving most patients to recover in just a few months. However, Lavigne was not as fortunate. She became bedridden for 15 months, and says during that time she experienced “some of the worst pain” she had ever felt in her life.
Yet, like the lively artist she is known to be, Lavigne is not willing to give up on her music career or her life.
Ultimately, with the release of “Head Above Water,” Lavigne hopes to promote her self titled foundation, which offers grants and resources to help those with Lyme disease. The Avril Lavigne Foundation has helped countless victims and recently raised $150,000. All the proceeds will be going towards Lymelights granting program to provide future research and treatment for Lyme.
In the end, Lavigne’s ongoing battle and her dedication to music once more demonstrates her strength and most importantly her willpower to overcome any obstacles that come her way.