Let Go (20th Anniversary Edition)
When Let Go came out in June 2002, Avril Lavigne was framed as a pop-punky alternative to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera—a real, authentic voice in a sea of entertainers and industry plants. It’s more complicated than that, of course (Let Go wasn’t exactly an indie project), but you get the gist: Avril played guitar and largely wrote her own songs. In retrospect, the album’s legacy wasn’t just in pushing alt-rock further into the pop space (see: Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” but also “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and the explosion of Fall Out Boy); it’s the way Lavigne balanced her angsty side (“Sk8er Boi,” “Complicated”) with the drama and sensitivity of a conventional singer-songwriter (“Tomorrow,” “I’m With You”): a blend that has influenced mainstream artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish, and more indie-leaning ones like Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy. Like Alanis Morissette before her, Lavigne’s triumph wasn’t that she was a mess—it’s that she had the guts to admit it.