Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 2002

Complicated by Avril Lavigne

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Avril Lavigne turned this well written song into a breakthrough hit that crossed a touch of youthful punky attitude with middle of the pop.

Song: Complicated
Artist: Avril Lavigne
Album: Let Go
Songwriter: Avril Lavigne and the Matrix
Producer: The Matrix and Antonio Reid
B000066NW0

Concept
Singer berates a boyfriend who covers up who he is making things needlessly complicated

Lyric
Excellent perceptive teen lyric about the needless games people lay to cover up the feelings and pretend to be someone they are not.

Tell me why d'you have to go and make things so complicated,

See the way you're acting like you're somebody else gets me frustrated,

Life's like this, you, you fall, and you crawl and you break,

and you take what you get and you turn it into honesty,

and promise me I'll never gonna find you fake it

Groove
A halftime 16th feel is overlaid on top of a rock 8th note groove, giving the recording a hip hoppish rhythmic style, though the rest of hte elements are molre alternative rock, an interesting and very commercial blend. Avril phrases very well in this shuffle beat strongly pushing and syncopating the melody.

Melody
The first time I heard this melody I knew it was going to be a hit song. The architecture is very unusual and distinctive with several intervallic leaps which repeat so the listener gets used to them. The different song sections each have different meldic ideas, all of which are strong. The scale is 7-tone major which gives the songs a pop sound rather than a more basic pentatonic or rock feel.

Harmony
The chord progressions are basic alternative rock, all variations of I vi IV and V, but not necessarily in this order. However, the guitar voicings add 2nds and occassional sus4s to give a more abstract more modern rock sound. Also the melody sometimes lands on one of these abstract tones emphasizing this effect.

Structure
Classic contemporary pop ABCABC structure.

Verse1 - PreHook1-Chorus1-Verse 2-PreHook2-Chorus2-Short Breakdown-Verse3-PreHook3-Chorus3-Repeat Chorus

Signature
Effective guitar figure in introduction. However it does not repeat as the song is too long to have it included again.

Production
Production is as good as alternative pop gets. The track is infectious, the vocal performance strong, and the structure easy to follow for such a complicated tune.

Performance
Lavigne gives the snotty teen edge the song calls for.

Predicted Longevity
This was a big hit and launched Lavigne's career. It has all the elements to reamin a popular radio favorite for quite a few years and will most certainly be remembered as one of the best songs of 2002

Album Cover: Let Go

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