"What The Hell," the first single from Avril Lavigne's fourth album, Goodbye Lullaby, is reminiscent of her signature upbeat, tongue-in-cheek boy-bashing anthems "Sk8er Boi," "Complicated," and "Girlfriend." But it isn't reflective of the entire album.
"The rest of the album overall is more raw and vulnerable and deep," Avril explained during an interview with Yahoo! Music at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills. "It's more acoustic guitars and pianos, so it kinda showcases another side that people maybe haven't seen."
Last year, Lavigne suggested a new focus when she debuted the power ballad "Alice" on the Alice In Wonderland soundtrack. A few of the Goodbye Lullaby songs ("Not Enough," "Remember When," "Goodbye") go after a similar massive pop vocal performance backed with prominent pianos.
"I love to rock out and have fun," Lavigne explained, "but I also love to sit down at a piano and sing."
The timing is perfect, considering the pop market has become crowded with a slew of new princesses since Lavigne released her last album, 2007's The Best Damn Thing. The alternate course allows her to set herself a part from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Rihanna, who currently dominate the top 10 singles chart. (Avril, however, loves that Rihanna's latest album Loud samples her song "I'm With You" on "Cheers.")
While it has been four years since Lavigne's last album, she hasn't been on an extended vacation. She has been working. She toured the world for two years, spent another two working on the album, released a new fragrance (Forbidden Rose), and a website for her Abbey Dawn clothing line.
In her personal life, she divorced her husband/producer Deryck Whibley last November, after four years of marriage. But they have continued to work together.
"I have so much respect for him," Lavigne said about Whibley, who is also a member of band Sum 41. "He produced seven songs on this record. I was really lucky to get to work with someone as talented as him because he's not just a producer ... he's an artist."
Goodbye Lullaby also features the song "Darlin" that Lavigne wrote when she was 15. "I used a couple other choruses or verses that I took from the past and kinda worked with those and reworked some sections in those," she said. "And I produced for the first time. I produced a song called 'Goodbye.'"
Some of Lavigne's fans may not be aware that she grew up singing country music. "The funny thing is if I tried to sing a country song I actually could," said the singer who has shared the stage with country star Shania Twain. "I sang a couple country songs at some fairs when I was like 12. ... I think what that did for me it helped develop my voice and it was good for my singing."