Avril Lavigne and Her Mall Pop Hordes
Avril didn't quite turn out to be the Joan Jett of the Hot Topic generation, but she still has plenty of great songs. And many of those tracks -- like "Sk8er Boi," "Girlfriend," "What the Hell," "The Best Damn Thing" and the gorgeous new "17" -- define the mall pop sound: a scene of teen-pop women brandishing guitars (and sometimes skinny ties), portrayed as rawer, grittier answers to the Britney-Backstreet boom of fluff and fantasy. Singers such as Skye Sweetnam, Cheyenne Kimball, Bonnie McKee (who's now an A-list songwriter for Katy Perry and others), Fefe Dobson and, later on, Care Bears on Fire all presented a nice anti-Disney Channel image with realer lyrics and harder riffs than say, Michelle Branch. Kelly Osbourne's short tenure as a pop punk is remembered by her exemplary single "Shut Up," and Avril's most famous (infamous?) competitor, Ashlee Simpson, spun off some genuine classics when no one was looking. It's time to give "Little Miss Obsessive" and "Autobiography" the credit they've long been due.