For the last five years, Canadian Pop Punk Queen, Avril Lavigne, has been keeping a low profile. Her last studio album, “Avril Lavigne,” featuring singles like “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” was released five years ago in 2013. In 2014, after several months of deteriorating health, she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease. Lyme disease, caused by a tick bug bite, can become a debilitating disease if left untreated or undiagnosed.

At first, Lavigne did not share her diagnosis with the world. She continued touring countries in 2014, but fans soon began to speculate about her physical health and wellbeing. In April 2015, she shared in an interview with People Magazine that she had become mostly bedridden due to the disease and that it was preventing her from performing. In a heartfelt letter to fans released on September 6, Lavigne wrote: “I want more than ANYTHING to be back up on stage. To be holding my guitars and running around. To sing my heart out and travel around the world to see all of my fans.”

After battling the disease for four years, Lavigne is ready to return to her first true passion: making music. Last year she asked fans to share their #AvrilThrowbacks to inspire her and keep her spirits up during her creative process (where we participated with our list of top ten Avril Throwbacks). She hinted that our sixth studio album would be released by the end of the year.

While things may not have gone exactly according to her timeline, today she released her first single “Head Above Water,” marking her return to music after five years. That’s an accomplishment in itself. While there is still no set release date for the upcoming album, Lavigne asks her fans for patience in her open letter: “I have to always listen to my body and keep a healthy balance, so please be patient as we go.”

If the rest of the album is anything like the powerful single “Head Above Water,” then it will be well worth the wait. The song begins as a slow, emotional ballad, but as it builds to the chorus, it combines both Lavigne’s fear and fierceness, something previously unprecedented in her music. While Lavigne has proven herself to be a mature singer-songwriter and a fun, quirky pop singer, rarely are the two combined in one single. “Head Above Water” is serious in nature, as the lyrics demonstrate: “God, keep my head above water / don’t let me drown / it gets harder.”

Lavigne shares that the album was born from the moment where she had “accepted death.” “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began.”

While the raw, emotional energy of the single makes it impactful, the buildup to the chorus and the chorus itself have enough upbeat energy and hope to prevent the single from being a monotonous sad ballad. Lavigne previously shared with Billboard that she intended to go back to her “roots” with her upcoming music, and she certainly did that. There’s something reminiscent of her other powerful singles like “Nobody’s Home” and “My Happy Ending.”

“Head Above Water” marks the triumphant return of the Pop Punk Queen.

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