Avril Lavigne’s “Here’s to Never Growing Up” Lyrics Breakdown: Why Radiohead?

Radiohead Avril Lavigne Never Growing Up Feature

Posted by on 04/11/2013 at 1:51 PM Lyrics

The Popdust Files: avril lavigne, here's to never growing up, katy perry, radiohead

Despite being 28 years old, having been world-famous for over a decade, and having gone through a marriage and a divorce (and with another marriage upcoming), Avril Lavigne has never exactly seemed like an artist likely to go through a difficult, mature phase–the first single off her last album was called “What the Hell,” and the second single started with the lyrics “You know I’m a crazy bitch / I do what I want when I feel like it.” Avril’s defiant immaturity has been a hallmark of her music for as long as she’s being around, and as she approaches her 30s (!!) it appears to be getting more willful than ever, as evidenced by her latest release, “Here’s to Never Growing Up.”

The song is basically what it sounds like from its title–an acoustic power ballad-type, Peter Pan-like manifesto about Avril and her buds staying “forever young” against all odds, promising that “we’re never gonna change.” Whether the song is inspiring or kind of depressing is fully up to listener interpretation, but at the very least, it’s a fairly rich portrait of youthfulness-at-all-costs, including spending a weekend partying “for no damn reason, “drinking “a bottle of whatever,” and, of course, “yelling kiss my ass” at just about anyone who will listen. It’s a song more high school kids will relate to than those who have been out of college for over a half-decade, but it’s a feeling most people will at least be able to recognize, if only wistfully or nostalgically.

But there’s one lyrical detail from Avril’s unwilling-adult anthem that puzzles, and the lyric that most will immediately recall from the song, not just because it’s memorable, but because it’s the first lyric in the song and a repeating refrain in the chorus: “Singing Radiohead at the top of our lungs / With the boombox blaring as we’re falling in love…” Now, the memory of singing along to a band or artist at the top of your lungs with all your best friends is doubtless a critical part of just about anyone’s youth. But most fans of the band will hear that lyric and immediately wonder to themselves: Why Radiohead?

It’s been a long time, certainly, since Radiohead were the sort of band you would sing along with at the top of your lungs, you could certainly try belting along to recent-ish Radiohead songs like “Morning Mr. Magpie” or “Videotape,” but you probably wouldn’t be inspired to put your lighter up while doing so. It’s probably been at least 15 years since Radiohead recorded music that could be described as “anthemic,” and even then, the lyrics were still mostly esoteric comments about alienation from modern society and general distrust of the people in charge–subjects with vague connections to youthful rebellion, but you don’t exactly picture lead singer Thom Yorke drinking a bottle of whatever or yelling for anyone to kiss his ass. Even the group’s most famous song, the low-self-esteem classic “Creep,” wouldn’t be a good drunken singalong unless you all then planned on spending the rest of the night in buzzed self-pity.

It’s especially weird because Avril’s music in particular seems almost antithetical to Radiohead’s sound and career arc. The two artists might have started out with superficial sonic similarities–up-tempo, aggressive guitar-based rock music, though separated by a decade chronologically and an ocean geographically–but whereas Avril has determinedly kept the sound, look and feel of her music from youth until adulthood (and for the forseeable future), Radiohead has taken great pains to eschew both their early sound and their early image,fighting against being pigeonholed as anything and coming to be virtually unrecognizable in both respects from their earlier selves.You’d think Avril would find much more of a kinship with a group like Green Day or Weezer, a group more defined by their enduring connection to youth culture. Not only would Radiohead not toast to never growing up, they’ve made a point of growing up about as fast as humanly possible.

So why Radiohead? Well, I think a clue of sorts can be found in another unexpectedly Radiohead-referencing pop song of recent years, Katy Perry‘s “The One That Got Away,” which includes Katy remembering “Summer after high school when we first met / We’d make out in your Mustang to Radiohead.” Now, as unnatural as Radiohead may be for lighters-up singalong jams, they’re an even weirder choice for makeout music–you could count the number of Radiohead songs scattered throughout their discography that could be seen as even abstractly romantic or sensual on one hand, and it’s hard to imagine how you could neck to songs like “Paranoid Android” or “Everything in Its Right Place” without lyrics about “kicking screaming Gucci little piggy” or “yesterday I woke up sucking on a lemon” completely killing the mood.

But here’s the thing with the use of Radiohead in both songs–it’s not so much about the band and its music, as much as what they represent for both artists. Even if neither Katy Perry or Avril Lavigne have much in common musically with Radiohead’s brand of skeptical, progressive art-rock, they still both came of age in the late ’90s and early ’00s, a period during which Radiohead were largely considered the best band in the world, though rarely one of the most popular. Even if the band was never close to defining what it felt like to be young and vital and alive, it makes sense that they would remind both Katy and Avril of the time in their life when they felt the most young and vital and alive, and that they’d have memories of the band’s music that were a good deal more rose-colored than Radiohead’s actual music ever was.

It’s still weird to think of Radiohead as the band of a generation, the kind that would represent happier, younger times for so many people, and you have to wonder if the band themselves would blanch at that sort of status. But clearly for Avril, the words she’s singing along to when she sings along with Radiohead aren’t as important as the feeling she gets when she and her friends sing them, the memories they evoke, and the emotions that still resonate with them. And for those purposes, “Fake Plastic Trees” or “Karma Police” may as well be “Forever Young.”

The full lyrics are below. You can play the song at the bottom of the post!

Singing radiohead at the top of our lungs
With the boom box blaring as we’re falling in love
I got a bottle of whatever, but it’s getting us drunk
Singing here’s to never growing up

Call up all our friends
Go hard this weekend
For no damn reason,
I don’t think we’ll ever change

Meet you at the spot,
Half past ten o’clock
We don’t ever stop,
And we’re never gonna change

Say, won’t you stay forever stay
If you stay forever hey
We can stay forever young

Singing radiohead at the top of our lungs
With the boom box blaring as we’re falling in love
I got a bottle of whatever, but it’s getting us drunk
Singing here’s to never growing up

We’ll be running down the street, yelling kiss my…
I’m like yeah whatever, we’re still living like that,
When the sun’s going down, we’ll be raising our cups
Singing here’s to never growing up
Oh woah oh woah here’s to never growing up
Oh woah oh woah here’s to never growing up

We live like rock stars
Dance in every bar
This is who we are,
I don’t think we’ll ever change

They say just grow up but they don’t know us
We don’t give a f…Forget, we’re never gonna change

Say, won’t you stay forever stay
If you stay forever hey
We can stay forever young

Singing radiohead at the top of our lungs
With the boom box blaring as we’re falling in love
I got a bottle of whatever, but it’s getting us drunk
Singing here’s to never growing up

We’ll be running down the street, yelling kiss my…
I’m like yeah whatever, we’re still living like that,
When the sun’s going down, we’ll be raising our cups
Singing here’s to never growing up
Oh woah oh woah here’s to never growing up
Oh woah oh woah here’s to never growing up

Say, won’t you stay forever stay
If you stay forever hey
We can stay forever young

Singing radiohead at the top of our lungs
With the boom box blaring as we’re falling in love
I got a bottle of whatever, but it’s getting us drunk
Singing here’s to never growing up

We’ll be running down the street, yelling kiss my…
I’m like yeah whatever, we’re still living like that,
Whe the sun’s going down, we’ll be raising our cups
Singing here’s to never growing up
Oh woah oh woah here’s to never growing up
Oh woah oh woah here’s to never growing up

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THIS
  • YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
  •