The real reason you don't hear from Avril Lavigne anymore

Avril Lavigne burst onto the pop music scene with her hit track "Complicated" in 2002. With her powerful voice and catchy hooks, it wasn't long before she became the industry's pop punk princess. Since then, the Canadian singer-songwriter has enjoyed a string of hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Sk8er Boi," "I'm With You," and "Girlfriend," but we have to admit, she's been pretty quiet lately. 

Behind the scenes, Lavigne has battled serious mental and physical challenges, and when she has made the news, it's been for all the wrong reasons. Her romances have become the stuff of tabloid fodder, and she was even entangled in an outrageous conspiracy theory that just won't quit. Then there's her music, or lack thereof. 

What's the real reason we don't hear from Lavigne anymore, and will she stage a comeback? We've got your answers.

That strange conspiracy theory

Lavigne hasn't made headlines for her music of late, but she has attracted some really weird PR, thanks to a bizarre conspiracy theory. According to The Guardian, a rumor originated on a Brazilian fan page called Avril Esté Morta in 2011, claiming Lavigne committed suicide in 2003 and was replaced by a lookalike actress named Melissa. 

Long after the hoax went viral, Buzzfeed determined that it was merely an elaborate (and incredibly morbid) joke meant to parody how easy it is to make conspiracy theories seem true, but to this day, some remain convinced the conspiracy is true. In May 2017, the rumor resurfaced with "evidence" to prove that the Lavigne we know and love is an imposter. The conspirators noted alleged changes in height, image, and darker song lyrics. 

And if that's not wild enough for you, there's also a conspiracy theory about Lavigne being a reptilian shape-shifter.

Nice try, internet.

She was accused of racism

As Avril Lavigne tumbled down the charts in 2014, the struggling pop star released "Hello Kitty" as the album's fourth and final single. That move prompted a PR disaster.

The song's music video was slammed by the press; Lavigne was accused of racism and cultural appropriation over the video's stereotypical depiction of Japanese culture. Billboard lambasted it as "abhorrent" and "lazy." GQ called it an "act of digital cruelty." Yikes.

To add fuel to the fire, Lavigne didn't seem to take the backlash very seriously. "RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!! I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan," she tweeted in response, adding, "I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan."

As Lavigne told Digital Spy the year prior, "I didn't want it to sound like anything I'd done before." Well, mission accomplished, but we're guessing not quite the way she intended.

Her hidden health problems

While dealing with setbacks in her career, Lavigne also grappled with a private health crisis. After suffering flu-like symptoms for months and seeing multiple specialists, she was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014. Facing a long recovery, she disappeared from the spotlight and took a three-year hiatus from music.

"I was bedridden for five months," she told People in 2015. "I felt like I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk and I couldn't move. I thought I was dying."

With a treatment regimen of antibiotics and lots of rest, Lavigne was expected to make a full recovery. While she focused on getting healthy, she also raised awareness about the disease. "I feel like I have a responsibility — I can't just sit on my a** and do nothing," she told Billboard. "I need to talk about Lyme disease, because it's real, it's out there, it was a simple bug bite and it could happen to anybody. People need to know about it, because it's not talked about that much and a lot of the information that's out there is inaccurate."

According to an E! News source, Lavigne was doing much better by 2017. "Avril is in a really good place right now," the insider said. "Her recovery has been going well and she's been getting stronger and stronger. She has more energy and has even been exercising."

Her relationships became tabloid fodder

Lavigne may have gained popularity early on as a pop singer-songwriter, but as is often the case in the music biz, it wasn't long until her personal life began to overshadow her professional endeavors.

With a string of high-profile relationships, including her failed marriages with Sum 41's Deryck Whibley and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, longtime romances with Brody Jenner and Ryan Cabrera, and a short-lived hookup with Wilmer Valderrama, Lavigne became a fixture in the tabloids.

At the time of this writing, the "Losing Grip" singer was most recently linked with music producer J.R. Rotem. According to E! News, rumors of their budding romance swirled when the two were spotted holding hands in August 2017. The pair, who collaborated on Lavigne's comeback album earlier that year, appeared to be still going strong that October — the duo looked smitten while out on a date in West Hollywood.

Her second marriage fizzled

Lavigne shared a seemingly perfect union with Nickelback frontman Kroeger, but when their two-year marriage crumbled in 2015, the "Let Me Go" singer was forced to focus even more of her time and energy on her personal life rather than her professional endeavors.

"It is with heavy heart that Chad and I announce our separation today," she shared on Instagram along with a sweet snapshot of the former couple. "Through not only the marriage, but the music as well, we've created many unforgettable moments. We are still, and forever will be, the best of friends, and will always care deeply for each other. To all our family, friends and fans, thank you sincerely for the support." 

While Kroeger was spotted packing up his car in the days following their split, speculation that the estranged pair was actually back together circulated in 2016, leading us to question the status of their complicated (sorry, we had to) relationship.

According to Lavigne, their status is purely platonic. "We started working together in the studio, and we do still work together, and we've maintained our friendship like we love each other deeply," she told the the Daily Mail. "And that's something we want to keep, and that's important to us."

She became a rocker-chic fashionista

Lavigne tried on a new hat when she launched her own clothing line, Abbey Dawn, in 2008. As the singer told MTV News at the time, she was inspired to break into the world of fashion after seeing young fans imitate her signature rocker-chic style at her shows.

"So we're designing like crazy — like, tons of stuff — and it's so much fun," she said. "It's totally my style and everything I would wear. It's absolutely my wardrobe."

After the line's initial partnership with Kohl's ended in 2010, Lavigne branched out on her own, growing Abbey Dawn into an international apparel company. As her business expanded to include t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, and fragrances, the pop star told Inc. Magazine that she remained "deeply involved" in the designing process.

"Our main goal right now is to make our clothes available to fans all over the world," Lavigne said. "When I see girls wearing Abbey Dawn, it's awesome."

Her dwindling album sales

At the time of this writing, Lavigne's last album was 2013's Avril Lavigne — her least successful work to date. 

Despite boasting a hit lead single, "Here's to Never Growing Up," the singer's fifth studio album peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and suffered the lowest sales of her career. The eight-time Grammy nominee doubled down on what she does best — fun, rebellious anthems set to soaring pop melodies — but critics grew tired of the act and responded with mixed reviews.

Billboard said the record "encapsulates everything worth loving about the 29-year-old's long-running artistry," but The Guardian called it a "bratty nostalgic trip." Rolling Stone said the whole thing consists of "soggy ballads, sometimes vaguely goth or R&B, and tries in vain to keep up with Taylor Swift." Ouch.

Making new music has been a 'slow promise'

Between her divorce and illness, Lavigne understandably took her time working on a comeback album. As a source told E! News in 2017, "It's been a slow process. She writes her own material and she's been through a lot with her marriage and her illness. She has a lot to say."

Around that time, the "Don't Tell Me" singer did share an exciting update with her fans. "I just want to thank everyone for their patience as I work on putting together this new album," she wrote on Instagram. "It's been a long recovery and I want to make sure that this is perfect for you guys! … I promise it will be here before you know it."

At the time of this writing, there's been no news about a release date, but Lavigne did tell fans that her sixth studio album (and first with record label BMG) will be "Personal, dear, intimate, dramatic, raw, powerful, strong and unexpected. This record is a true emotional journey," reported Billboard.

She's trying to turn it around

Lavigne announced her highly anticipated return to music in December 2016, before officially hitting the studio to work on her sixth studio album in May 2017.

Months later, she performed for the first time in years during a surprise appearance at a Nickelback concert in Los Angeles. "Good to be back on stage!" she captioned a video of the show on Instagram. "Feeling excited, happy and grateful." 

"I've started mixing my album and all of the pieces are finally coming together," she revealed on Instagram in early 2018. "These songs are so close to my heart. Wish me luck while I throw every last drop of me into these final stages. Time is power. And I needed this time. To live. To write. To go through my ups and downs."

After spending years out of the spotlight, it looks like Lavigne is gearing up for a musical comeback that will finally get her career back on track!