She may be responsible for one of the ultimate cheerleader anthems, but Avril Lavigne's material is hardly suited to floor-filling dance routines, which makes this latest compilation from the Essential Mixes series seem rather superfluous. Indeed, perhaps mirroring her recent acknowledgment that she had to fight against record label interference to prevent her recent album, Goodbye Lullaby, from taking a more dance-led direction, these ten tracks are hardly a club-friendly affair. Only Wolfadelic's generic Euro-house remix of "Hot" and Junkie XL's surprisingly effective extended remix of "Girlfriend," which adds dirty electro basslines, industrial beats, and early-'90s acid-rave synths to the existing bratty chanting, attempts to steer the source material into anthemic Ibiza territory. The Matrix's mix of debut single "Complicated" doesn't veer too far from their initial composition, just slightly toning down the guitars in favor of a stripped-back Stargate-esque R&B sound, while the Dr. Luke Mix of "Girlfriend" features exactly the same production as the original, but substitutes Lavigne's verses with a rather pedestrian rap from New York MC Lil Mama. The other six tracks aren't remixes as such but just live acoustic performances of some of her biggest hits. The passionate renditions of emotive ballads "When You're Gone" and "Nobody's Home" prove that Lavigne is far from the manufactured pop puppet her early critics suggested; however, "He Wasn't" and "Sk8er Boi" don't really translate outside their punk-pop origins. Despite the series' title, this hit-and-miss compilation is anything but essential, and although Lavigne fans might want to track down a couple of its inclusions, the lack of genuine remixes means it's rather puzzling why it even exists in the first place.
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