about what the hell
Album: Goodbye Lullaby
Released: January 10, 2011
Genre: Pop Punk, Pop Rock, Pop
Writers: Avril Lavigne, Max Martin, Shellback
Producer: Max Martin
"What the Hell" is a song by Canadian recording artist Avril Lavigne. The song was written by Lavigne with Max Martin and Shellback, and produced by Martin for Lavigne's upcoming fourth studio album, Goodbye Lullaby (2011). "What the Hell" was released on 10 January 2011 as the lead single from Goodbye Lullaby. The song received generally positive reviews from music critics, with many complimenting its catchiness and comparing it to her previous single "Girlfriend" (2007).
In November 2010, Lavigne announced, via a blog on her official website, that her fourth album, Goodbye Lullaby, had been completed for a year and cited her record company as the reason for the album's delays. She revealed in the blog that "What the Hell" would be the first single from the album. The song premiered on 31 December 2010 on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve during a pre-taped segment along with a performance of "Girlfriend". Lavigne described "What the Hell" as "a really fun, upbeat party song, so it worked out really well to play it for the first time on 'New Year's Rockin' Eve." The following day, "What the Hell" was available as a free download for 48 hours from Lavigne's official Facebook page.
Although Lavigne simply described the song as "a broad message about personal freedom", critics have interpreted the song in a number of different ways; Gil Kaufman of MTV.com suggests that the song is a "declaration of independence from a former teen star who is storming back onto the scene". Kaufman suggests Lavigne's public divorce from Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley and friction between her and her record company are also possible themes within the song. Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone magazine calls "What the Hell", "an anthem about a good girl who goes on a crazy-bender, staying out late, swapping boys and exacting psychological revenge." Bill Lamb of About.com also suggests that the song is about Lavigne and Whibley's divorce, but goes on to say "the song leaves significant room for interpretation which does add to its intrigue." Heather McDaid of Stereoboard.com was critical of the song's theme being about Whibley, stating "with such an upbeat song it's hard to envisage divorce as the underlying subject matter as you listen." Holly Thomas of Frost Magazine suggested that the lyrics are about being "starved of affection from the one she truly loves."
Lavigne describes the song as "more reminiscent of some of my old pop rock stuff" and calls it her "most pop track on the record" and the least personal song from the album.