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Avril Lavigne - My World (DVD & CD)
Avril Lavigne: My World is a combination DVD/CD set based around Lavigne's 2003 Try To Shut Me Up tour, in particular the Buffalo, NY concert. Given that Lavigne has released only one album so far, it's no surprise that all but three of the songs come from Let's Go. Here, as well as in the album, her work is solid if a bit uneven. Her best pieces are the punchy ones like "Sk8er Boi" and "Complicated"; some of the others (like "Knocking on Heaven's Door") slide off into more generic-sounding territory, but on the whole it's a reasonably satisfying collection of songs.
Her live performance does offer a different experience than just listening to the songs on her studio album. Certainly one of the draws for getting the DVD is getting to see the concert experience, for those viewers who like that sort of thing. Personally, I'm mainly interested in the music, and Lavigne satisfies on that count. She moves from one song to the next with minimal fuss, focusing her concert performance on her music rather than putting on an "act" in general.
Lavigne's main distinction, this early in her music career, is her youth: she signed her record deal at the tender age of 16, debuting with the 2002 album Let's Go. What's really fascinating about the Try To Shut Me Up concert is how it demonstrates how Lavigne has grown... and I don't mean in an artistic sense. Her voice is distinctly different in concert than it is in her Let's Go recordings, which is hardly surprising given the fact that at her age, her voice is still maturing along with the rest of her body. Lavigne's voice here is significantly deeper and huskier than in her studio recordings of the same songs; to a certain extent this can be attributed to the fact that the Buffalo performance was the final stop on the tour, but I doubt that tiredness alone is responsible for the different sound. (And she did seem energetic enough out on stage.)
The CD offers six more songs, all live performances (though it's not indicated from what concert). Four of these are the same songs as are performed in the concert ("Basketcase," "Unwanted," "Sk8er Boi," and "Knocking on Heaven's Door") and two are new ("Fuel" and "Why," which is listed as a UK B-side).
The concert covers the following songs:Sk8er Boi
Anything but Ordinary
Too Much to Ask
I Don't Give
I'm with You
Knocking on Heaven's Door
Things I'll Never Say
Avril Lavigne: My World is a two-disc set. The first disc is a DVD, with the concert and special features; the second disc is a CD with six additional songs.
The concert footage on the DVD appears in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which appears to be how it was filmed. The image quality is reasonably good, but certainly could have been better. The print is squeaky-clean and free of any noise or dirt, and colors and contrast are strong, and close-up shots of Lavigne are nicely detailed, but more distant shots are quite blurry. What is most annoying is the large number of digital compression artifacts, which are omnipresent, obvious, and quite distracting.
I don't expect a concert DVD to match the audio quality of a DVD-Audio recording, since it has video as well as audio information on the disc. However, it's not a good sign when an MP3 that I listen to on my computer offers better overall sound quality than the soundtrack on the DVD when I play it on my home theater system. The sound is flat and strongly center-focused, and lacks the vibrancy and richness that I'd hope for. The default Dolby 5.1 soundtrack will also leave you wondering why they bothered; there's essentially no use of the surround channels and no sense of immersion, despite the audience noise. The Dolby 2.0 option is even flatter than the 5.1 track.
The audio quality on the CD is significantly better than on the DVD, with a general fuller, more vibrant sound; it's still not an exceptional soundtrack, but it's quite good.
The special features on the DVD are clearly aimed at the "devoted teenage fan" segment of the audience; there's nothing so dull and adult-oriented like an actual documentary or interview...
The first featurette is something called "Avril's Cut," and appears to be a montage of concert clips, music, and behind-the-scenes images, mainly focusing on Avril and her band acting silly. "Outtakes" is pretty much the same thing, except that it's not set to music. I can't see as these segments would have any interest value whatsoever to anyone except a fanatical 14-year-old who gets ga-ga over just seeing the star offstage.
The most worthwhile section of the special features is a set of music videos: we get the full music video for "Complicated," "I'm With You," "Knocking on Heaven's Door," "Losing Grip," and "Sk8er Boi." Other miscellaneous features are a photo gallery, information on how to purchase Avril-related merchandise, and information on the Avril Lavigne fan club.
On the one hand, Avril Lavigne: My World offers an interestingly different performance of the songs from her Let's Go album; if the sound quality were better on the DVD, it would probably merit a "recommended" on that grounds. However, with only so-so sound quality, and rather pointless special features, there's not much to make this DVD/CD set a better purchase than a CD of Let's Go. It's a reasonable rental choice for adults who enjoy Lavigne's music. I'll note, though, that this set has "gift for Avril-crazy 14-year-old girl" stamped all over it: the younger set will probably appreciate it.