Hard-won experience of life has crushed poor Avril’s enthusiasm: the instrumental hook of “My Happy Ending” is the hook of “Sk8er Boi” stuck in a sulky tar-pit. I’m grateful for my fuzzy grasp of American indie history but as I understand it getting from the crisp slap of punk to the precious moping of grunge took 14 years: with a copywriter’s gift for summary Lavigne has managed it in two albums. 2 (Tom)

Donald Judd was asked once by an interviewer what he called his work, and he called them specfic objects, and then he was asked what he looked for in other peoples work, and he said that it had to be interesting.

What happens when we stop looking at music to be authentic and start looking for work to be interesting? We get abstract specfirc objects like Toxic by Britney or Dirrty by Xtina.

What happens when we claim that the big 5 media companies can give us filthy female empowered punk authenticity? Well, bullshit like this. 0 (Anthony Easton)

“All this time you were pretending so much for my happy ending”

Avril you’re 19 for God’s sake. Life for you should be a joyous flux, not heading towards “ending” and premature middle age. This maturity is joyless, like the sex-educative bits of a teenage soap opera. The words are heavy and laboured, as if she’s been locked in a room, sweating blood to get these lyrics out. It gets 1 pt solely because her voice does not cause me the same degree of internal haemoraging as Anastasia. 1 (Derek Walmsley)

This sounds like if Alanis Morrisette needed to collaborate with Jarabe De Palo in order to have a hit record. 2 (Diego Valladolid)

Somehow I’ve managed to miss Avril’s music completely and now that I’m finally forcibly introduced, I still feel like I miss Avril’s music completely. Formulaic in the extreme, Creed-y inflection, running-in-place lyrics and a rhythm that sounds like it was put together by a corporate computer; this would’ve sounded derivative and uninteresting ten years ago, much less now. This isn’t even really deserving of disdain, just apathy. Why bother? 3 (Forksclovetofu)

Oh, Canada. Your pop songs, much like yourself, are blandly comforting. “My Happy Ending” has me skimming though my Handbook of Faint Praise for adjectives like “serviceable”, “competent” and “perfectly acceptable”. The chorus hook is sticky, but if Avril is one-tenth the punk she makes herself out to be, she’d ditch the corporate production team. She’s too young to sound so polished. I do like the line about her “darn friends”, though I suppose that’s the radio-editers at work. 5 (Henry Scollard)

Ah, Avril Lavigne. My mothers middle name is Averil, a mispelling I believe so I have always had a soft sport for the narky teen and her tie wearing antics (it pays to wear a suit to a job interview but that attitood just means she never gets the job). Bit early to say, but I think it is clear that Avril saves the better tracks for the second single, and whilst this is no lexical feat of ingenuity like Sk8ter Boi, neither is it a complete pile of festering poo.

I like the moans which sit in for a chorus. They are the kind of moans not made by people who have ever really had to moan about something, which of course make them all the more plaintive. Your eighteen my’dear, you don’t get a happy ending. You haven’t even had the trying middle bit yet. 6 (Pete)

Again, Avril Version 2.0 brings a box of sardonic whine to the party, giving her not-so-complicated fella the “shyeah thanks a LOT” kissoff. The orchestra chugging away in the background seems redundant, but you can’t expect AL to trump punk rock horns by copping moves from Michelle Branch – a little Train is U&K, too. All snark aside (and believe it or not there’s something left once I shelve the snark), it’s a grower – Avril Co. is getting really good at this. Perhaps a mature, less pwecious & pwecocious AL might not be what Devon X. Sk8er (or Devon’s pervy dad) was expecting, but it’s a development that augurs well for her future. At the very least, tapping her angst early and often now offers hope that she won’t exploit her future love troubles the way Alanis cashed in on her tryst with Brat Pack waterboy Dave Coulier. 7 (David Raposa)

Wednesday afternoon, half past one. Work is boring today, and I’m trying to think of some words to say about “My Happy Ending”, essentially it’s a song about how crap being a teenager is, and the general lameness of relationships. Poor Avril, she can’t find the right guy at all, if her past singles are anything to go by. I like this song, it’s one of the stronger tracks on “Under My Skin”, angsty and anthemic, rising and falling, pre-chorus, all great elements! – I even like the totally Alanis breakdown at around 2 minutes 20 seconds. It’s a sad song. 9 (Jel)

All loves are first loves: all endings are the same ending. All endings hurt like the first one. So love ends, over and over. But belief in truth dies only once: the first time. When happy endings become only stories, and you realise, sickening, that your happy ending was only ever a story, a trap that you set for yourself, YOUR happy ending. Yours. Not only do we deceive each other – ‘you were pretending’ – but we have to deceive ourselves to be taken in – ‘you were all the things I thought I knew’ because ‘all I ever wanted’.

Which doesn’t mean we’ll stop believing in happy endings, unless we never love again, but from now on they can only be stories, never truth. This could itself just be a mawkish story, but what convinces is the disparity between teen angst and schlocky AOR ballad. Avril finds herself caught up in a story that everyone else already knows – it’s passed into cliche. But in the space between the over and over and the for the first time, truth, which dies, flashes up. 10 (Alext)

EDITORIAL NOTE: This is the end of Round 1 of the Square Table. Round 2, with a handful of new participants and most of the old ones, will kick off soon and hopefully there will be a little statistical fannydangle beforehand too.