Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends

Avril Lavigne is dead

Yup, that’s right. In fact, Avril Lavigne’s been dead for years. A lookalike called Melissa Vandella has been impersonating the Canadian ‘Pop Punk Queen’ since 2002…

2002 was the year Avril Lavigne blew up the teen music scene. Her debut album Let Go was certified 6 x platinum in the US while hitting the number 1 spot in Canada, the UK, Australia, Argentina and a bunch of other places. She was winning awards left, right and centre. Meanwhile teens the world over were warbling the words to catchy smash hit singles Complicated and Sk8er Boi.

Ah, but that was the problem. According to a popular conspiracy theory that recently saw a wild resurgence online, Lavigne decided before 2002 was done that she just couldn’t handle the attention, the pressure, or the fame. And so her record label, Arista, hired lookalike and ‘best friend’ Melissa Vandella to pretend to be her in public.

Things went from bad to worse for Ms Lavigne. In 2003, she killed herself while at the very height of her fame. The money-hungry bosses at Arista Records weren’t about to let all that profit go down the crapper, so they decided to cover up her death and continue recording and releasing songs using Melissa.

Now where have I heard this before? Ah yes, a similar thing is said to have happened to Paul McCartney. Some people believe that he was killed in a car crash in 1966 and secretly replaced with a lookalike to maintain the Beatles’ continued success. They cite hidden clues in song lyrics and album covers, cryptic statements made by Heather Mills, and even the assassination of John Lennon as evidence for the conspiracy. (It’s a legend that forms the basis of my short story Paul, one of the Million Eyes Short Stories.)

There’s also the Hillary Clinton conspiracy from last year, in which it was alleged that she’d been replaced by a body double after collapsing and dying at a 9/11 Memorial ceremony.

But let’s get back to poor Avril and take a look at the evidence for her untimely demise…

The Under My Skin clues

In 2004, Avril Lavigne released her second album, Under My Skin. The title was the first clue. This meant that the new/fake Avril was hiding ‘under the skin’ of the real one. Obvious, really.

Then there’s the fact that the colours on the front cover represent mourning and blood. (Like no other rock album ever did ever.)

Oh, and the sorts of lyrics listeners are getting at this point are “Don’t leave me hanging in a city so dead”, which are a tad darker than “He was a skater boy, she said see ya later boy”. Which must mean, therefore, this is a different Avril and she’s trying to tell us something.

And the clincher? In the song Together, she sings, “The truth comes to me and I’m living a lie”.

Her face, voice, look and, er, height

It was decided that because Lavigne had dropped her punk rock aesthetic after the first album and gone with a more mainstream middle-of-the-road pop star vibe for the second, that means it was two different people.

What’s more is that apparently the official Avril Lavigne website listed her height as 1.58m back in 2002, yet Google now says she’s 1.55m tall. What gives? Did she lie about her height? Has she shrunk? No. The 3cm difference is because she’s a different person.

And people argue that there are facial differences between pre- and post-2003 Lavigne. Something about her nose. And apparently the tone of her voice changed too, or her singing’s got worse.

Avril (left) and Melissa (right)

Who’s Melissa Vandella?

Good question. The idea that someone called Melissa has been playing the role of Avril Lavigne appears to stem from a photo in which Lavigne has the name ‘Melissa’ scrawled on her hand (below). I’ve no idea where her surname ‘Vandella’ came from, but I’d be willing to bet that somebody made it up. There’s zero evidence on the internet that this mysterious actress exists.

Creative as all this is, it sounds like pareidolia again, much like “Paul is dead” before it. Pareidolia is seeing patterns and meanings where there aren’t any. It’s an actual psychological condition.

And come on, folks, ‘Melissa’ looks exactly like Avril. Surely no lookalike has ever bore such an uncanny resemblance, which means, let’s face it, they’re the same person.

Now, if you want to talk about lookalikes replacing celebrities, may I present a much more likely candidate…

Oof, they did a really rubbish job with this one. Quick, somebody, expose the truth! Cher is dead!

Next week: the mysterious case of Karen Silkwood

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