Best known for her 2002 singles “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi,” Avril Ramona Lavigne is a Canadian pop singer who rose to fame at the age of 16. With career accolades that include five top-ten hits, three platinum albums, and eight Grammy Awards nominations, she has distinguished herself as a seminal figure in pop. But what if some of her accomplishments were not her own? Enter the Avril Lavigne imposter conspiracy.
What Is the Avril Lavigne Imposter Conspiracy?
According to the theory, “the real Avril” died in 2003. She committed suicide due to the rising pressure of fame, as well as the passing of her grandmother. Her record label, not willing to let go of one of their best-selling artists, hired a body double to record and perform as “Avril Lavigne.”
Who Is Melissa Vandella?
Prior to her death, Avril supposedly requested that a body double be hired for public appearances, as the stress of stardom was weighing on her. Her label hired a body double named Melissa Vandella. While on tour together, Avril and Melissa became especially close. Avril even went as far as to teach her new friend how to sing and dance to her songs.
After Avril’s death, her label replaced her with Melissa. Out of respect for her departed friend, Melissa gave up her own identity to become Avril, essentially keeping the singer’s career and legacy alive.
Lyrical Messages Alluding to Avril’s Death?
If she died in 2003, this would mean that the only album “the real Avril” recorded was 2002’s Let Go. Melissa recorded all subsequent albums. Believers point to certain lyrics on 2004’s Under My Skin as proof of the theory.
The song “Slipped Away,” for example, contains the lyrics, “It wasn’t fake / It happened, you passed by / Now you are gone, now you are gone / There you go, there you go / Somewhere I can’t bring you back.”
Additionally, the song “Nobody’s Home” features the lines, “Well, I couldn’t tell you why she felt that way / She felt it every day / And I couldn’t help her / I just watched her make the same mistakes again.”
Sure, these lyrics are vague enough to be about anything, but never underestimate the imaginations of internet-based conspiracy theorists. It doesn’t help that a photoshoot from the album cycle depicts Avril with the name “Melissa” written across her hand. Now, this detail is a bit harder to explain.
The Subtle Differences Between Avril and Melissa
Believers in the theory point to the fact that in the early stages of her career, Avril dressed exclusively in “skater clothes.” Melissa, on the other hand, adopted a more traditionally feminine aesthetic. The music has shifted as well. It originally contained a guitar-oriented pop rock sound and now conforms to the current conventions of pop music.
Side-by-side photos of the two supposedly different people reveal a difference in nasal structure. And distinguishing freckles that Avril once had on her arm seem to have disappeared. Does this really prove that the role of Avril Lavigne has been played by an imposter for nearly two decades?
Evidence Against the Avril Lavigne Imposter Conspiracy
Obviously, people change over time. In what world would Avril Lavigne’s fashion choices stay the same forever? And why would she continue making the same style of music amidst an ever-evolving musical landscape?
And with regard to the physical differences between Avril and the so-called Melissa, is it not possible that she simply had plastic surgery done on her nose? Also, consider the ways in which makeup, lighting, and the type of camera used all affect how certain features (i.e. freckles) appear in photos.
It also seems strange that a record label would go to such lengths to replace Avril following her death. Think of Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Amy Winehouse, Juice WRLD, etc… As dark as it is, the deaths of music stars have proven to be quite lucrative for labels.
The Conspiracy’s Creator Comes Clean
The Avril Lavigne imposter conspiracy gained traction in 2011 after the publication of a Brazilian blog Avril Está Morta (“Avril Is Dead”). According to the Washington Square News, “The original blogger who started the ‘Avril is Dead’ campaign owned up to fabricating the theory in 2015 to see if fans would jump on the bandwagon. The creator stated, ‘Avril Lavigne never died and was replaced by a lookalike. I created this theory to see if people would believe it, and thousands of people believed it was a fact.’”
So, there we have it. The Avril Lavigne imposter conspiracy is just that, a conspiracy. Despite the creator’s confession, however, the rumor never really went away. Perhaps fans don’t want to believe that the Avril they know and love would ever marry the guy from Nickelback.