Avril Lavigne Is Back. If You Believe That.

Goodbye, online conspiracy theory. Welcome back, Avril Lavigne.

Lavigne — the Canadian singer whose hits like “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” made her a mainstay of the early 2000s — appeared on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast this week to promote a greatest hits album out next month, a new tour and a performance at Glastonbury, Britain’s biggest music festival.

She also used the appearance to tell fans that she is alive and herself.

And that she was most definitely not replaced by a body double named Melissa Vandella after dying more than 20 years ago.

The bizarre conspiracy theory has popped up occasionally, yet consistently, around the internet for much of Lavigne’s career, and the publicity around her new tour has ignited another round of attention.

Many online explainers have traced its origin to Brazil, and a 2011 blog post that uses Lavigne’s lyrics and photos of her to make an argument that “Melissa” took Lavigne’s place after the success of her debut album “Let Go.”

After a BuzzFeed News report drew attention to the theory, it appeared in mainstream press roundups of conspiracy theories, from the Guardian, to Rolling Stone, to the BBC. It also has its own Wikipedia entry.

For the record: There is no proof for this conspiracy theory.

On “Call Her Daddy,” hosted by Alex Cooper — herself an icon of the 2020s who said she grew up listening to Lavigne’s music — the singer said she didn’t think the conspiracy theory was that bad in the grand scheme of things.

“I mean, it’s just funny to me,” Lavigne said. “Like, on one end, everyone’s like, You look the exact same. You haven’t aged a day. But then other people are like, you know, there’s a conspiracy theory that I’m not me.”

But, she said, things could be worse.

“I feel like I got a good one,” she said. “I don’t think it’s, like, negative. It’s nothing creepy.”

Cooper replied, “Avril, this conspiracy theory about you is a little creepy, come on.”

Lavigne has not often commented on the conspiracy theory. In 2019, she told Entertainment Weekly that she was “flabbergasted that people bought into it. Isn’t that so weird?”

On the podcast this week, she expressed a similar sentiment.

“Obviously I am me,” she said. “It’s so dumb.”

Paul McCartney was not killed in a car accident in the 1960s. Elvis is definitely dead. But conspiracy theories, however ridiculous, have a way of lodging themselves in people’s subconscious, which helps their staying power in the face of overwhelming proof to the contrary.

Even Cooper couldn’t resist a few follow-up questions.

“Why do you think people think that?” she asked.

“I think that they’ve done that with other artists,” Lavigne answered. “I’m not the only one. I think, like, other people have that.”

Cooper: “I feel like yours is, like, really prominent.”

“Oh, I mean, I feel like you might believe it?” Lavigne said, as both of them barely contained their laughter.

Still, Cooper went for a final fact check: “So. Your name is Avril Lavigne.”

Through more giggles and a confirmation of her identity, Lavigne exclaimed: “I knew you half-believed it!”

While Lavigne is no longer at the extreme heights of her early 2000s fame, her music has endured. The words to “Sk8er Boi” remain permanently etched in the memories of many millennials.

The greatest hits album will be her first since “Love Sux” in 2022. On Thursday night, she debuted the single “Bulletproof” with the country singer Nate Smith at the American Country Music Awards.

Lavigne is not only live and kicking, but she says she is also nowhere near done with her career. On “Call Her Daddy,” she said that besides her coming tour, she was looking forward to branching out creatively and turning “Sk8er Boi” into a movie.

“It’s been so long, it’s been 22 years,” she said, “and I feel like I have another 22 years ahead of me.”

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