By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Canadian pop-rock/punk-rock star Avril Lavigne returns to Rio’s Citibank Hall on Friday, May 2nd as she continues to tour Brazil and South America in support of her 2013 self-titled album. She was last in Rio for a July 2011 performance at the same venue during The Black Star Tour.
Released on November 1st last year, Lavigne’s fifth studio ablum, Avril Lavigne, has a slightly less punk/edgy sound and is more pop with momentary nods to Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Lavigne’s husband, Chad Kroeger of the band Nickelback, helped with the albums production, music and lyrics as well as added occasional vocals.
While Lavigne has matured from the bratty and rebellious teenager who at seventeen debuted the album Let Go in 2002, she has maintained a sense of individuality and defiance throughout her career while growing a strong international fan base.
To date, her five studio albums together have sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. Six of her singles; “Complicated”, “Sk8er Boi”, “I’m with You”, “My Happy Ending”, “Nobody’s Home”, and “Girlfriend”, also topped international charts. Combined, they sold more than fifty million copies worldwide.
Fresh off her most recent single release “Hello Kitty” and the controversy the song’s video stirred including accusations of fetishising Japanese culture, the now 29-year-old Lavigne comes to Rio in the middle of a five show tour of Brazil, a country with the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.
There are an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians, with the majority of that population living in and around São Paulo, where Lavigne opened her Brazilian tour playing two shows on April 29th and 30th. Released a little over a week before the shows on April 21st, the video for “Hello Kitty”, received an almost instantaneous backlash from critics.
The song includes some Japanese lyrics (“mina saiko arigato kawaii” which loosely translates to ““you rock, thank you, thank you, cute”) and the video features four Asian woman as backup dancers/Lavigne’s entourage.
Scenes depict Lavigne singing with brightly colored plush cupcakes and then excitedly being served sushi. Next she walks through the streets of Tokyo waving to fans and finally Lavigne uses an instant camera to take a photo of the four woman.
In response the critics, Lavigne tweeted on April 24th; “RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!! I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video…” She then added in a second tweet; “…specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.”
While many critics were quick to find fault with the video, many fans and others on social media responded with puzzled reactions to the critiques. Some could not see what was racist about the video, while others saw it as a tribute to Japanese culture.
Views of the video skyrocketed, reaching over seven million by Sunday, April 27th. Additionally, if video sales are any indication, Brazilian fans were undaunted by the controversy. As of April 26th, “Hello Kitty” was the number one top selling video on iTunes in Brazil. It also ranked number two in Canada and number four in the United States.
Friday promises to be a night not to miss for both new and old fans of Lavigne. Citibank Hall’s gates will open at 10PM.
Who: Avril Lavigne
When: Friday, May 2nd, 10PM
Where: Citibank Hall, Av. Ayrton Senna, 3000, Barra da Tijuca. Tel.: (21) 2156-7300
Entrance: R$220- R$450 Available online at the Tickets For Fun website.