Chart success for pop singer's new single sets a promising stage for L.A. Reid-helmed Epic debut.
Before Avril Lavigne performed her new single, "Here's to Never Growing Up," on NBC's "Today" on May 17, the pop singer/songwriter smiled and waved to a special fan in the audience: Antonio "L.A." Reid, chairman/CEO of her new label, Epic Records. Although Reid doesn't drop by every Epic artist's TV performance, he made a special point of being there for the 29-year-old Lavigne, whom he signed to Arista when she was a teenager and whose 2002 debut album, "Let Go" (6.8 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan), he executive-produced.
A decade later, Reid is overseeing Lavigne's return to pop prominence, after the singer left RCA Records and joined Epic in late 2011. The brilliantly bratty "Here's to Never Growing Up" jumped 60-30 on last week's Billboard Hot 100 (it's now No. 31), while Lavigne returned to the top 10 of the Social 50 chart for the first time in two years, with 15 million overall plays to her name. And those accomplishments occurred before Reid watched Lavigne tear through the lead single from her forthcoming fifth album.
"My relationship with her has been this way since the day I met her, and my guess is that it will always be this way," Reid says. "She's a superstar. I think she's motivated now, and I expect that she'll do really well."
Thanks partly to the "Today" stop, "Here's to Never Growing Up" notches its second-biggest sales frame this week with 79,000 downloads, up from 62,000, according to SoundScan. The single's cumulative sales stand at 329,000 downloads since its April 9 release, but the longevity of the song -- and perhaps of Lavigne's stateside comeback in general -- will depend on radio. "What the Hell," the lead single from Lavigne's 2011 album "Goodbye Lullaby," peaked at No. 27 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and No. 8 on Mainstream Top 40, failing to repeat the success of her last big hit, the Hot 100-topping "Girlfriend" in 2007. "Here's to Never Growing Up" moves up two spots on the Mainstream Top 40 chart, and shifts 67-66 on Hot 100 Airplay.
"It's just getting going," WHTZ (Z100) New York PD Sharon Dastur says of "Here's to Never Growing Up." Z100 has played the song 85 times through May 20, according to Nielsen BDS, and Dastur believes the guitar-laden track fits comfortably next to rock-tinged top 40 fare like Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons and Icona Pop. "It's still in a newer rotation because we want to make sure it's familiar," Dastur says, "but the early signs we're seeing look really strong, and we're seeing the same thing at some of our sister stations around the country."
As Epic hopes to turn a corner of sorts and deliver the first major hit of the Reid era, Lavigne has relentlessly promoted her new radio offering: She asked fans to submit photos and videos for the song's lyric video in March, released its official music video on May 9, performed the track on "Dancing With the Stars" on May 14 and did extensive radio promotion following her "Today" performance. Lavigne is also beguiling pop fans with a love story: She and Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, who co-wrote "Here's to Never Growing Up," got engaged after sharing the studio for Lavigne's new album. "Our relationship started off by writing songs together," Lavigne says. Reid adds that Kroeger "has been one of the greatest songwriters of the last 10 years."
Also crucial for Lavigne is releasing an album with more hits than just its lead single -- after all, "Let Go" became the singer's top seller on the strength of such top 10 hits as "Complicated," "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You." However, manager Larry Rudolph is optimistic about her Epic debut. "The second single is equally as strong and has an equal amount of edge," he says. "We're going to hit two home runs in a row."
Lavigne's still-untitled new album is due in September, with touring details in support of the full-length still being discussed.