In today’s world, it’s never been simpler to check in with a cherished celeb. Just write their name into Google, press “search” and sit back as a million results flood your computer screen. But for singer Avril Lavigne, internet ubiquity may be a bad thing; well, for her fans at least…
Born in 1984, Avril Lavigne grew up in an era when the World Wide Web – let alone Google – was in its infancy. Without the distraction of the internet, the rambunctious musician began writing and singing her own songs as a teenager. And pretty soon her interests took her on a path towards fame and fortune.
At the tender age of 14, Lavigne won the chance to sing alongside fellow Canadian singer Shania Twain onstage. Certainly, this early brush with fame gave Lavigne a thirst for the big leagues, and just four years later, she moved to New York to start her career in full.
Bolstered by a skater-punk-influenced sound and look, Lavigne released her debut album, Let Go, in 2002. And thanks to her edgier image, the singer stood out in the pop scene. So much so, in fact, that her record would eventually sell 20 million copies the world over.
Besides the record’s commercial success, Let Go also brought about its fair share of critical acclaim. Indeed, the album swept the boards at the Juno and Teen Choice awards, and it also led to Lavigne receiving a slew of Grammy nominations, including two for hit single “Complicated.”
What’s more, although Let Go was released in a climate of Napster, Limewire and similar file-sharing websites, after six months the album had sold four million units. As a result, Lavigne became one of 2002’s biggest and most talked about popstars.
After her chart success, the “Sk8er Boi” star did much to gain music lovers’ attention, and fans were now more than ever drawn to their computers for gossip. In 2006 she married fellow punk-pop musician Deryck Whibley from the band Sum 41. However, their pairing ended in divorce just three years later.
As technology’s role on stardom increased, Lavigne – like many celebrities – turned to social media to keep her fans informed of her life. For instance, the singer announced her 2015 separation from second husband Chad Kroeger via Instagram. Together since 2012, the couple were married for two years.
But the internet hasn’t always been as kind to Lavigne. You see, since 2005 conspiracy-minded fans have even alleged that the “real” Lavigne was replaced by a doppelganger named Melissa. And despite its dubious origin, the story has recently gained momentum on Twitter.
But although that story is an obvious hoax, Lavigne has actually been dangerously close to death’s door in recent years. Yes, in 2015 the singer revealed that she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease shortly after her 30th birthday. The illness left her so weakened, in fact, that she was bedridden for five months.
But through it all, Lavigne managed to hang on via her fans’ love on social media. “They were asking about me since I was MIA, so I mentioned to one fan directly that I wasn’t feeling good,” she told People in 2015. “The get-well messages and videos they sent touched me so deeply.”
Naturally, then, the star’s fan base has a far-reaching presence on the World Wide Web. But it turns out that their online admiration may not always be repaid in kind. In fact, Lavigne’s legion may more often than not find their love returned with a computer virus.
You see, it seems that as a result of the high level of Google searches for Lavigne, she has been targeted by online cyber criminals. According to anti-virus company McAfee, there is a 14.5 percent likelihood that search results for the star’s name will throw up websites which contain bugs and malware. Moreover, the figure rises to 22 percent for fans looking for free MP3s.
Yet while this may not be good news for Team Lavigne, it’s at least given the singer a new title. Yes, McAfee has in fact given her the dubious honor of being 2017’s most dangerous star to search for online. And she’s beaten out other celebs such as Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Calvin Harris, too.
Previous “winners” include Amy Schumer, whose increased endorsement of gun control made her an obvious choice in 2016. Meanwhile, melody-minded DJ Armin van Buuren walked away with the title in 2015. But Lavigne – who previously peaked at second in 2013 – is the first female musician to make it to the top.
Astonishingly, musicians make up the entirety of the list. Following on from Lavigne’s lead is Bruno Mars, who was ranked in second place. Furthermore, Lavigne is joined by several other Canadian singers, including Justin Bieber and Celine Dion.
Perhaps most surprising of all, though, is the fact that Lavigne placed so highly despite having released her self-titled last album back in 2013. Her health issues and internet rumors have, of course, certainly stoked the fires of public interest, though. And a recent announcement from the singer herself may have also played a part.
You see, in August 2017 Lavigne revealed on Twitter that a new album is in the works. “It’s been a long road to recovery and I want to make sure that this is perfect for you guys!!” she wrote. “I can’t wait to share the new music I’m working on, I promise it’ll be here before you know it!!”
McAfee, meanwhile, has also advised fans to be aware of sites offering “sneak peaks” at an artist’s new material. “It’s imperative that [consumers] slow down and consider the risks associated with searching for downloadable content,” said spokesperson Gary Davis. “Thinking before clicking goes a long way to staying safe online.”
Needless to say, though, fans shouldn’t stop searching for their favorite celebs online just because of cyber criminals. But it always pays to stay smart and stay safe when browsing the web – even if that first-look MP3 seems too tempting to ignore.