Let Go (Avril Lavigne album)

Let Go (Avril Lavigne album)
Let Go
Studio album by Avril Lavigne
Released 4 June 2002 (2002-06-04)
Recorded May, 2001 – March 29, 2002
Genre Rock, pop
Length 48:41
Label Arista, Hi Fi
Producer Antonio "L.A." Reid (executive), The Matrix, Clif Magness, Curt Frasca, Peter Zizzo
Avril Lavigne chronology
Let Go
Under My Skin
Singles from Let Go
  1. "Complicated"
    Released: 14 May 2002 (2002-05-14)
  2. "Sk8er Boi"
    Released: 27 August 2002 (2002-08-27)
  3. "I'm with You"
    Released: 19 November 2002 (2002-11-19)
  4. "Losing Grip"
    Released: 1 April 2003 (2003-04-01)

Let Go is the debut album by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne, released on June 4, 2002. For a year after signing a record deal with Arista, Lavigne struggled due to conflicts in musical direction. Lavigne relocated to Los Angeles, California, and recorded there her earlier materials for the album, the kind of sound of which the label was not amenable. She was paired to the production team The Matrix, who understood her vision for the album.

The album was credited as the biggest pop debut of 2002. It was released to generally positive critical reviews, although Lavigne's songwriting received some negative comments. Let Go was 6x platinum in the United States. It also did extremely well in Canada, receiving a diamond certification from the Canadian Recording Industry Association,[1] as well as reaching multi-platinum in many countries around the world, including the UK in which she became the youngest female solo artist to have a number-one album in the region.

As of May 2008, Let Go had sold over 17 million copies worldwide,[2] becoming Lavigne's highest-selling album to date.[2] According to Billboard Magazine the album was the number 21 top-selling album of the decade. A Rolling Stone readers poll named Let Go as the fourth best album of the 2000s.[3][4]



After being signed to Arista Records in November 2000 upon the authorization of the label's CEO, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Lavigne moved to New York with the assistance of Reid. There, she began working on her debut album, Let Go, collaborating with a host of prime songwriters and producers.[5] For six months, the label set up Lavigne with two co-writers, who worked with her upon Arista's instructions. Reid expected Lavigne to record folk songs because she auditioned to them in a "balladic, 'new country'" type. However, the collective failed to click "with a girl who'd just discovered guitar-based rock".[6] For a year, nothing was working for Lavigne and was on the verge of getting dropped off Arista.[7] The management pitched her songs written by other songwriters, but she declined, insisting she wanted to write songs herself.[8]

Lavigne relocated to Los Angeles, California, where she collaborated with songwriter-producer Clif Magness, who gave her ample creative control in the writing process. Lavigne and Magness wrote "Losing Grip" and "Unwanted", songs that she deemed reflective of her vision for the entire album.[9] However, Arista was not thrilled with the heavy-guitar laden songs that Lavigne was writing, prompting the label to look for another producers to match their demands.[10]

Now two years since she signed the deal, Lavigne, who was then unknown, came to the attention of the three-piece production team The Matrix. Arista could not find the right direction for Lavigne, so the team's manager, Sandy Roberton, suggested that they work together: "Why don't you put her together with The Matrix for a couple of days?"[11] According to member Lauren Christy, they had been listening to Lavigne's early songs and felt they contained "a Faith Hill kind of vibe". As soon as they saw Lavigne coming into their studio, The Matrix felt that her musical direction was incongruous to her image and attitude.[11] After talking to Lavigne for an hour, "we cottoned on that she wasn't happy but couldn't quite figure out where to go".[11] The Matrix played her songs with Faith Hill influences, because it was those kind of songs the label wanted Lavigne to sing. But Lavigne dismissed it, saying she wanted songs with punk rock inclinations.[6] Lavigne played The Matrix a song that she had recorded and really loved, a track with sounds in the likes of the rock band System of a Down. Fortunately, prior to forming The Matrix, its members' early projects were in the pop-rock type, so they readily figured out what Lavigne wanted to record and knew exactly what to do with her. They told her to come back the following day, and in the afternoon during that day, they wrote a song that evolved into "Complicated" and another song called "Falling Down" (Falling Down appears on the Sweet Home Alabama Soundtrack). They played it to Lavigne when she came back the following day, inspiring her what path she should take.[11]

When Josh Sarubin, the A&R executive who signed Lavigne to the imprint, heard the song, he knew it was right for her. Lavigne presented the song to Reid, who agreed the musical direction Lavigne and The Matrix were taking, and set "Complicated" as the album's lead single.[11] Reid sent Lavigne back to The Matrix to work with them, initially for a month.[6][10] Arista gave the team carte blanche to write and produce 10 songs, which took them two months.[11] Reid suggested Lavigne to name the album Anything But Ordinary, after the track of the same name that The Matrix produced, but she refused.[9]

Writing and recording

With The Matrix, Lavigne recorded tracks in Decoy Studios, situated in a Los Angeles suburb known as Valley Village.[10] She also worked with producer-songwriter Curt Frasca and Peter Zizzo, whose Manhattan studio Lavigne was checked in prior to securing a record deal with Arista, and where Lavigne also recorded some of the tracks.[5][6] The Matrix member Scott Spock was their principal engineer for the project, while Tom Lord-Alge was assigned to mix the tracks.[10] Lavigne recorded complete takes "against the largely finished instrumental tracks". Spocks revealed Lavigne normally recorded each song in five or six takes, "and probably 90 percent of what was finally used came from the first or second takes". The Matrix also contributed backing vocals.[10]

Introduced as a singer-songwriter, Lavigne's involvement produced significant issues. Lavigne has implied that she is the primary author of the album. In an article published in Rolling Stone magazine, Lavigne stated that while working with The Matrix, one member would be in the recording studio while they were writing, but did not write the guitar parts, lyrics, or the melody. According to Lavigne, she and Christy wrote all the lyrics together. Graham would come up with some guitar parts, "and I'd be like, 'Yeah, I like that,' or 'No, I don't like that.' None of those songs aren't from me."[9]

The Matrix, who produced six songs for Lavigne, five of which appear in the album,[10] had another explanation of how the collaboration went. According to them, they wrote much of the portions in the three singles: "Complicated", "Sk8er Boi", and "I'm with You", which were conceived using a guitar and piano. Christy said, "Avril would come in and sing a few melodies, change a word here or there."[9] Reid complemented the issue over the credits: "If I'm looking for a single for an artist, I don't care who writes it. Avril had the freedom to do as she really pleased, and the songs show her point of view. ... Avril has always been confident about her ideas."[9]

Although she needed pop songs "to break" into the industry, Lavigne felt "Complicated" does not reflect her and her songwriting skills. Nonetheless, she was grateful for the song as it successfully launched her career. She favors more "Losing Grip", because "it means so much more when it comes straight from the artist".[9] Due to Lavigne's mix of pop and rock influences when writing the album, Let Go has been identified with a variety of genres such as Alternative rock,[12] pop punk,[13] pop rock,[14][15][13] post-grunge[16][15] and rock.[15]

Release and promotion

Avril Lavigne in concert for the album's promotion.

The album was released on June 4, 2002, in Canada and the United States. Later, on July 22, Let Go hit record stores worldwide, and on August 26 in some parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom and Ireland. A DataPlay version of the album was released in September 2002. Arista had established a deal with DataPlay earlier in 2002, and included Let Go alongside albums by rock singer Santana and singer Whitney Houston in the release.[17]

Although Lavigne was targeted to the teen audience, a marketing strategy attributed to the successful launch of her career;[9][18] Lavigne performed on a host of radio-sponsored multi-artist holiday shows throughout the United States,[19] a marketing strategy that induced higher sales of the album during the season. She embarked on her first headlining tour, Try To Shut Me Up Tour, which took place on January 23, 2003, and ended on June 4, 2003. Lavigne toured with her band—drummer Matthew Brann, bassist Mark Spicoluk, and guitarists Jesse Colburn and Evan Taubenfeld—which she had grouped after signing the deal.[5] In the tour, she included all songs off Let Go, B-sides, and cover versions of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan and "Basket Case" by Green Day.[20]

Lavigne filmed her performance in Buffalo, New York, on May 18, 2003, the final date of her five-week headlining North American tour. The tour DVD My World was released on November 4, 2003, on joint venture by Arista Records and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD features the concert, a behind-the-scenes featurette, five music videos and a six-song bonus audio CD that includes four unreleased tracks.[21]


  • "Complicated" was released by Arista as the album's lead single, which was seen as an across-all-age-groups introduction to Lavigne.[6] Thought to produce wide cross-demographic appeal, however, the music video to the single features Lavigne and her band wreaking havoc in a mall, "the sort of imagery that might have grown-ups thinking 'Clean that mess up!' more than clamoring for the record".[18] the song was a worldwide #1 hit and was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
  • "Sk8er Boi" The follow-up single was aimed at pop-punk oriented kids.[6] The release of "Sk8er Boi" created disagreement among many radio programming directors. However, their impressions were diverted as listeners help changed their minds; early rotation of the single proved successful, showing it was as popular with post-collegiate listeners as with teens the song even went to #1 in the U.S. mainstream.[18]
  • "I'm with You" The adult ballad hit record stores in late November 2002, directed at holidays to remind parents about the album to, if not buy it themselves, purchase it for any children in their family.[6][18] The song ended up being another hit for Lavigne reaching #4 in the Billboard Hot 100, #1 in mainstream, top 10 in UK and Canada. It was not officially released in Australia but received radio and television airplay, this song was also nominated for two Grammy Awards the same categories as "Complicated". The arrangement of singles, with "I'm With You" as the third, was regarded "controversial choices", given that "I'm With You" was "thought by some to be the biggest potential smash on the album", and could have established Lavigne as a more mature artist if it was released first.[18] According to Reid, "Some people just really didn't get that. And with the first video, there was some concern that maybe because it's so young and so playful, it might alienate more serious music lovers."[18]
  • "Losing Grip" was released as the fourth single off the album, "to act as a bridge into her next album”, which Lavigne stated would be “harder-rocking” than her debut.[18] However, it was the least successful single on the album.

Other songs

Other songs were released as regional radio-only singles. "Mobile" was only released in Australia and New Zealand as a radio-only track. It was later used in 2003's The Medallion, the 2004 film Wimbledon, and a brief appearance in the film Just Married. In 2011, a music video for the song leaked onto the internet made from official footage that was never finished.

"Things I'll Never Say" was released as radio-only single in Italy. "Unwanted" was released as radio-only single in the UK. The song "Tomorrow" was played in one episode of the second season from the Warner Bros. series Smallville and has become popular between its fans.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 68[22]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[23]
Blender 4/5 stars[24]
Entertainment Weekly (neutral)[25]
Q 3/5 stars[22]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[26]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[27]
Stylus Magazine (B)[28]

Critical reaction

Let Go received generally favorable reaction from critics, earning 68 points on metacritic based on the collated reviews from 7 publications.[22] Rolling Stone magazine's music critic Pat Blashill wrote that the album "comes fully loaded with another dozen infectious hymns of Total Request angst". Blashill complimented Lavigne on having a "great voice", adding she crafted the album with "a qualified staff of hitmakers".[26] Christina Saraceno of Allmusic noted that Lavigne "handles a variety of styles deftly", while also complimenting her as "a capable songwriter with vocal chops". Nonetheless, Saraceno opined that "at her age, one imagines, she is still finding her feet, borrowing from the music she's grown up listening to".[23] John Perry of Blender magazine summarized Let Go into an "outstanding guitar-pop debut".[24] A review in Q magazine praised Lavigne for displaying "a musical guile way beyond her years".[22] For Jon Caramanica of Entertainment Weekly magazine, "Lavigne's monochromatic debut set of unimaginative guitar rock is saved only by the earnestness of her songs."[25]

Some reviewers had similar sentiments toward the quality of the lyrics to some songs in the album. Saraceno said that Lavigne "still has some growing up to do lyrically", asserting "Sk8er Boi" shows her "lyrical shortcomings" and calling the phrasing in "Too Much to Ask" "awkward and sometimes silly".[23] Perry noted the lyrics to "Sk8er Boi" as "endearingly naive".[24]

The album earned Lavigne numerous awards from organizations around the world. The success of the album's commercial performance led Lavigne to be named Best New Artist at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards[29] as well as winning a World Music Award for Best-Selling Canadian Singer.[citation needed] She won three awards—Favorite Female Artist, Favorite Breakthrough Artist, and the Style Award—the most of any performer at the 2003 MTV Asia Awards.[30] She received five nominations for the album at the 2003 Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album. The album's singles "Complicated" and "I'm With You" were nominated Song of the Year at the 2003 and 2004 ceremony, respectively, accumulating eight nominations for the album.[31][32] Lavigne was nominated for six categories at the 2003 Juno Awards—which was presented in Ontario, Canada—winning four including Best Album and Best New Artist.[33]

Commercial performance

Let Go was commercially successful in the United States, gaining praise from Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the biggest pop debut albums of 2002.[18] The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 8 on the strength of 62,000 unit sales. Its high debut was fueled by the success of "Complicated", which was in heavy rotation on MTV.[34] Increasing weekly sales allowed the album to stay inside the chart's top 10 for 37 weeks.[35] The album sold at least 100,000 copies straight until late 2002, easily accumulating over two million unit sales.[6] In a December 2002 report by Entertainment Weekly magazine, the album had sold 3.9 million copies, becoming the third top-selling album of 2002 in the United States.[36] Year-end figures released by Nielsen SoundScan revealed that Let Go had sold over 4.1 million copies in the United States, sales accumulated in 30 weeks of the album's release.[37][38] Let Go was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[39] This earned Let Go the distinction as the highest-shipped debut of 2002 and best-selling album by a female artist.[40] On April 30, 2003, RIAA certified the album six-time platinum, denoting shipments of over six million units.[41] It remains Lavigne's best-selling album to date, with sales of over 6,724,000 copies sold in the United States, as of July, 2009.[42]

Chartwise, the album reached higher peak positions notably during and after the holidays. Following her show-opening performance at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, Let Go continued to be one of the holiday's top sellers with sales that week of 272,000.[43] Although it had peaked at number two in September 2002, Let Go rose from 3 to 2 on the Billboard 200 on the issue dated February 1, 2003.[44] The increase of sales was the offshoot to Lavigne's appearance on January 11 at Saturday Night Live as the show's musical guest. During this time also, Lavigne received much media coverage due to her nominations at the 2003 Grammy Awards and for embarking on first North American tour.[45] In the United Kingdom, the album took longer to reach the summit of the UK Albums Chart. In its 18th week on the chart year 2003, the album reached number one, rising to the top spot over the holiday. The album's international sales upsurge was attributed to the continuing success of "Sk8er Boi".[46] Let Go is the 12th best-selling album of 2003 in the United Kingdom.[47] The album has been certified five-time platinum by the British Phonographic Industry.[48]

Let Go was also selling well in Canada, surpassing sales of over one million unit sales in less than a year. The Canadian Recording Industry Association certified the album diamond in May 2003.[49] In Australia, Let Go had been certified seven-time platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association in 2003, based on the sales of over 490,000 units from wholesalers to retailers.[50] The album is the tenth best-selling album of 2002, and the third in the following year.[51][52]

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) [12] Length
1. "Losing Grip"   Avril Lavigne, Clif Magness Clif Magness 3:53
2. "Complicated"   Lavigne, The Matrix The Matrix 4:03
3. "Sk8er Boi"   Lavigne, The Matrix The Matrix 3:23
4. "I'm with You"   Lavigne, The Matrix The Matrix 3:42
5. "Mobile"   Lavigne, Magness Magness 3:31
6. "Unwanted"   Lavigne, Magness Magness 3:40
7. "Tomorrow"   Lavigne, Curtis Frasca, Sabelle Breer Curtis Frasca, Sabelle Breer* 3:48
8. "Anything But Ordinary"   Lavigne, The Matrix The Matrix 4:10
9. "Things I'll Never Say"   Lavigne, The Matrix The Matrix 3:43
10. "My World"   Lavigne, Magness Magness 3:26
11. "Nobody's Fool"   Lavigne, Peter Zizzo Peter Zizzo 3:56
12. "Too Much to Ask"   Lavigne, Magness Magness 3:44
13. "Naked"   Lavigne, Frasca, Breer Magness, Frasca, Breer* 3:28

(*) Additional production

Standard CD enhanced media content
  • Biography
  • "Complicated" (music video)
  • EPK
  • "I Don't Give" (bonus track)
  • Lyrics (songs playing in the background)
    • "Complicated"
    • "Sk8er Boi"
    • "Mobile"
    • "Unwanted"
Japan tour edition bonus DVD
  1. "Complicated" (video)
  2. "Sk8er Boi" (video)
  3. "I'm With You" (video)
  4. "A Day in the Life" (video)
Tour edition bonus VCD
  1. "Get Over It"
  2. "Why"
  3. "Unwanted" (live)
  4. "I'm With You" (live)
  5. "Nobody's Fool" (live)
  6. "Day in the Life" (NYC EPK)
  7. "Footage"
  8. "Complicated" (music video)
  9. "Sk8er Boi" (music video)
  10. "I'm With You" (music video)
  11. "Losing Grip" (music video)
Japan special bonus edition
  1. "Complicated" TV track version – 4:05
  2. "Sk8er Boi" TV track version – 3:34
  3. "I'm With You" TV track version – 3:46
  4. "Losing Grip" TV track version – 3:53


This list of credits is based on barnesandnoble.com.[53]

Performance credits
  • Avril Lavigne: Primary artist, Guitar, Background vocals
  • Sabelle Breer: Backings vocals
  • The Matrix: Backings vocals
  • Clif Magness: Bass, Guitar, Electric guitar, Keyboards, Drum loop
  • Dennis Johnson: Beats & Scratching
  • Jeff Allen: Bass
  • Suzie Katayama: Cello
  • Joe Bonadio: Drums
  • Josh Freese: Drums
  • Alex Elena: Drums
  • Curt Frasca: Guitar, Multi instruments
  • Gerry Leonard: Guitar
  • Peter Zizzo: Guitar
  • Corky James: Guitar
Technical credits
  • Clif Magness: Programming, Producer, Engineer
  • L.A. Reid: Executive Producer
  • Rick Kerr: Engineer
  • Leon Zervos: Mastering
  • Curt Frasca: Programming, Producer, Engineer
  • Peter Zizzo: Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Pro-Tools
  • Jon Berman: Engineer
  • Avril Lavigne: Art direction
  • Jen Scaturro: Programming, Pro-Tools

Charts and certifications


Chart (2002) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[54] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[55] 2
Argentina CAPIF 1
Canadian Albums Chart[54] 1
Colombia 1
Dutch Albums Chart[56] 4
French Albums Chart[57] 13
German Albums Chart[58] 2
Italian Albums Chart[59] 6
Japanese Oricon Albums Chart[60] 6
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart[61] 1
Norwegian Albums Chart[62] 3
Swedish Albums Chart[63] 6
Swiss Albums Chart[64] 2
UK Albums Chart[54] 1
U.S. Billboard 200[54] 2

Sales and certifications

Chart Certification
Australia[50] 7x Platinum[65] 500,000+
Brazil (ABPD)[66] 3x Platinum 375,000+
Canadian Albums Chart[49] Diamond 1,000,000+
Colombia 5x Platinum 100,000+
Europe 2x Platinum 3,670,000+
French Albums Chart 2x Platinum 450,000+
German Albums Chart 3x Gold 450,000+
Greek International Albums Chart[67] Gold 15,000
Sweden Platinum 40,000+
Finland Platinum 30,000+
Norway Platinum 30,000+
Denmark (Hitlisten) Platinum 30,000+
Austria Platinum 20,000+
Portugal (AFP) Platinum 20,000+
Belgium (Ultratop) Gold 15,000+
Poland Gold 15,000+
Hungary Gold 3,000+
Hong Kong Gold 10,000+
Indonesia Gold 200,000+
Ireland 9x Platinum 140,000+
Japan (RIAJ) Diamond 1,000,000+
Mexican Albums Chart Gold 75,000+
Netherlands Gold[68] 80,000+
New Zealand (RIANZ) 5x Platinum 75,000+
Italian Albums Chart Diamond 500,000+
Spain Platinum 200,000+
Philippines (PARI) 6x Platinum 100,000+
Russia Gold 50,000+
Singapore Platinum[69] 100,000+
South Africa Platinum 100,000+
South Korea 6x Platinum 300,000+
Switzerland 2x Platinum[70] 80,000+
Taiwan Platinum 50,000+
UK Albums Chart[48] 5x Platinum 1,500,000+
U.S. Billboard 200[41] 6x Platinum 6,761,000+

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
Escapology by Robbie Williams
UK number one album
January 11, 2003 – January 31, 2003
Succeeded by
Justified by Justin Timberlake
Preceded by
The Last Time by John Farnham
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
December 9, 2002 – January 26, 2003
Succeeded by
8 Mile (soundtrack) by Various artists


At the 2003 Grammy Award, received five nominations Best Pop Vocal Album for Let Go, Song of the Year & Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Complicated", Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Sk8er Boi", Best New Artist. At the 2004 Grammy Awards received three nominations Song of the Year & Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "I'm with You", Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Losing Grip".

Year Awards ceremony Award Results
2002 Billboard Music Awards Best Album Nominated
2003 Juno Awards Best Pop Album Won
Best Album of The Year Won
Gold Disc Award Hong Kong Best 10 Albums Won
Japan Golden Disc Awards Rock&Pop Album of the Year Won
Brasil Music Awards Best Album Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Music Album Nominated
Premios Oye! Main English Female Won
Grammy Awards Best Pop Vocal Album Nominated


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