What the Hell

Album: Goodbye Lullaby (2011)
Charted: 16 11

Songfacts®:

  • This upbeat embrace of fun and freedom is the lead single by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne from her fourth studio album, titled Goodbye Lullaby. The song was premiered during a performance on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.
  • Lavigne first revealed details of the single in an open letter to fans on her website. She wrote, "My first single off this record is called: 'What The Hell.' This song is the least personal song to me off this album. It's a fun and funny anthem. It has a broad message about personal freedom. It is the most pop track on the record."
  • The song's music video was directed by Marcus Raboy and shot in 3D. Lavigne explained the clip in an interview with MTV News; "It's kind of a guy chasing me around, and I hop into a random cab, and he's chasing me. And I go through a clothing store and he chases me, but at the end of the video, it's really just me having a bunch of fun with him, and he's my boyfriend, so I like him in the end." The singer added: "My favorite part of the video is the rock-out scene at the end where I jump onstage and I'm with my band. When we shot it and I got to watch it back in 3D with the glasses and actually you can see the crowd's hands and it felt like you were live in a crowd, so it was kind of cool."

    A more technical analysis of the video came from the editor Jerry Steele, who told the trade publication Studio Daily that it was done on a Quantel Pablo 4K editor, and could be seen only on 3Net Channel and certain stores displaying the technology. Look for more artists to follow Avril's lead, however, as Steele points out: Music videos have always represented a creative playground for directors and talent, and it's where we expect the most exciting 3D to emerge."

    As for the actual process of creating a 3D video, Steele says: "The entire video is in 3D. There are five distinct acts, and the 3D was prepared for each individually. On only a few occasions, the 3D was gratuitous — to satisfy audiences still requiring the wow factor. Mostly, the video was designed more as an "immersive" experience — that's a new cliché for the 3D sector — without the need for flying objects that give audiences whiplash. The video was designed primarily for TV release, not theaters, so the depth budget was kept low with the majority of convergences occurring on or behind the screen plane."
  • Lavigne was asked by Artist Direct what got her into the sassy mood for this song. She replied: "Well, 'What the Hell' is more pop rock and a lot of my sassy, like you said, style. It's lighter and fun and the rest of the album is more raw and vulnerable and it's deeper and stripped down. My vision, production wise, for this album, was that. I wanted acoustic guitars and for it to be stripped down with pianos. I wanted to go there more. All my records are pop rock and upbeat, and I was ready to do something a little different. As far as lyrics and the subject matter, it is a bittersweet. I didn't know what I was going to write; I just knew what I wanted the production to sound like and what I wanted the style to be. Then, the lyrics just come and it was bittersweet lyrically."

Comments: 2

  • John from Chino, CaMy daughter got me into Avril when I wondered what in the hell is she listening to? Reminds me of Lita Ford.
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlJust when you think Avril can't top herself! She's amazing!! Love her new album!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock Photography

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock PhotographySong Writing

One of rock's top photographers talks about artistry in photography, raising funds for a documentary, and enjoying a County Fair with Tom Waits.

Yoko Ono

Yoko OnoSongwriter Interviews

At 80 years old, Yoko has 10 #1 Dance hits. She discusses some of her songs and explains what inspired John Lennon's return to music in 1980.

American Hits With Foreign Titles

American Hits With Foreign TitlesSong Writing

What are the biggest US hits with French, Spanish (not "Rico Suave"), Italian, Scottish, Greek, and Japanese titles?

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat WorldSongwriter Interviews

Jim talks about the impact of "The Middle" and uses a tree metaphor to describe his songwriting philosophy.

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillian

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillianSong Writing

A Soul Train dancer takes us through a day on the show, and explains what you had to do to get camera time.

Michael Sweet of Stryper

Michael Sweet of StryperSongwriter Interviews

Find out how God and glam metal go together from the Stryper frontman.