Before there was Justin Bieber, there was another teenager from Canada who released a huge debut, turned heads and created a seismic shift in pop music. On this day in 2002, 17-year-old Avril Lavigne released her debut album Let Go, which brought together elements of sugary teen pop, anthemic arena rock and a healthy dose of punk style and attitude.
Lavigne first hit it big with the gigantic single "Complicated," a pop-punk power ballad that came bundled with a now-iconic video that laid out everything that Lavigne was back in '02: There was a mall, some skateboarding, general teenage mayhem and Lavigne's trademark tank top and neck tie combination. "Complicated" was a revelation, as even though it was as produced as the rest of the pop music on the radio, it had a fresh lack of self-consciousness and a delightfully snotty edge.
Let Go also represented the first big breakthrough for Scott Spock, Lauren Christy and Graham Edwards, the production team known better as the Matrix. Their streamlined approach to studio craft (and their ability to hard rock and radio pop sensibilities) turned them into an instantly in-demand source for writing and producing radio hits. Since the success of Let Go, they have collaborated with the likes of Shakira, Liz Phair, Korn, Ashley Tisdale, Katy Perry, Tokio Hotel and Britney Spears.
Lavigne's debut album spawned two more huge singles in "Sk8ter Boi" and "I'm With You," and it went on to sell nearly seven million copies. Lavigne's music has continued to evolve over time, further pushing the boundaries of her particular brand of pop. But even if she never sells another copy of another album, she'll always have "Complicated," rightfully lauded as one of the best singles of the past decade.