There’s a small but determined group of Twitter activists who firmly believe that Avril Lavigne died in 2004 and has been replaced by an actress named Melissa Vandella. The theory was first put forward in 2015 by a Lavigne fan in Brazil who runs a website dedicated to the Canadian singer. The blog, tastefully titled “Avril Is Dead,” cites a whole bunch of questionable evidence. Those includes, subliminal messages, birthmarks and an “abrupt and sudden change of personality.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Hoax Is Back in the News Thanks to a Twitter User Named Givenchy
In 2002, it’s alleged that Lavigne was having a hard time with the trappings of fame just after her debut album, Let Go, dropped. Her management then hired a lookalike actress named Melissa Vandella as a decoy. During this time, Lavigne and Vandella became friends. Then, in 2003, Lavigne’s grandfather died and she plummeted into a depression, hanging herself in British Columbia. Vandella stepped into the breach and nobody was any wiser.
On May 12, a Twitter user from Brazil named Givenchy issued a rant lasting for 50 tweets. The rant opined that Lavigne wasn’t allowed to just die by her management company because her career was so hot in 2003. Givenchy says that Lavigne’s second album had already been recorded at the time of her death so Vandella didn’t have to sing, yet.
One message board conspiracy theorist cited some of Lavigne’s lyrics as evidence of her death. A song, “Nobody’s Home,” includes the lyrics:
She wants to go home, but nobody’s home
It’s where she lies, broken inside
With no place to go, no place to go to dry her eyes
She’s fallen from grace
She’s all over the place.
While another song, “Slipped Away,” is allegedly Vandella singing about the real Lavigne’s death:
… It wasn’t fake
It happened, you passed by
No you are gone, now you are gone
There you go, there you go
Somewhere I can’t bring you back.
Finally, one of Lavigne’s most famous songs, “My Happy Ending,” apparently offers further clues:
Don’t leave me hangin’
In a city so dead
Help up so high
On such a breakable thread.
2. The ‘Avril Is Dead’ Page Was Created ‘to Show How Conspiracy Theories Can Look True’
A disclaimer on the Avril is Dead website it states that the blog was set up “to show how conspiracy theories can look true.” Despite this, the rumor spread across Twitter and Facebook in 2014 and 2015. It got so far that Lavigne even addressed the hoax in an interview on Brazilian TV in 2014. Buzzfeed’s Rick Broderick was the first to catch on to the theory, it was from his reporting that Vice’s music blog Noisey and Paper Mag picked up on the story. Broderick cleared up that the story had been an inside joke out of Brazil.
The New York Daily News reported in October 2015 that the now-deleted YouTube clip of the interview was titled, “Proves that Avril lied in the interview.”
Givenchy had said in his May 12 Twitter rant that Lavigne was “nervous” when asked on TV about the hoax.
3. Lavigne Was Subject to Separate Death Hoax in January 2012
In January 2012, a prank website titled Global Associated News, via Gossip Cop, spread death hoax about Lavigne. It said that the singer had died in a snowboarding accident where she “died instantly from the impact of the crash.” According to Snopes, the snowboarding death hoax has appeared multiple times and has “claimed the lives” of Mickey Rourke, Russell Brand and George Clooney. It stems from a site named Media Fetcher that allows users to create faux death stories about ski or snowboarding related deaths.
4. A Facebook Page for Melissa Vandella Says She’s in a Relationship With ‘McLovin’ From Superbad
There is a Facebook page for Melissa Vandella that appears to have been set up by a Brazilian person. The page gives Vandella’s home as Brooklyn, New York. Among the stranger pieces of information on the page is the allegation that Vandella is in a relationship with Superbad star Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin.
While there is also a Twitter account for Vandella that uses the moniker Avril Is Dead.
5. In Reality, Lavigne’s Only Health Concern In Recent Years Was a Battle With Lyme Disease
At the rumor’s height in 2015, Lavigne was in reality battling an acute case of Lyme disease while also divorcing husband Chad Kroeger, of Nickelback, following a two-year marriage. Lavigne told People Magazine about her condition saying:
I could barely eat, and when we went to the pool, I had to leave and go lie in bed. My friends asked, “What’s wrong? I didn’t know. I had no idea a bug bite could do this. I was bedridden for five months.
Lavigne contracted the disease when she was bitten by a tick during the Spring of 2014.
During that time, Lavigne admitted that she had been “MIA” from the spotlight. The People piece concludes with Lavigne saying, “I really just want to enjoy life from here on out.”