The record as a whole is a performatively fun-loving PG-13 '00s high-school movie. It's largely inoffensive; it plays to our most individualistic, carefree impulses. Records like these only do well when it's the kind of music the year is open to: The Best Damn Thing becoming the best-selling record of 2007 speaks to the climate of the year, at least culturally. Playful escapism and whimsy reigned supreme. It's easiest to see in film: the highest-grossing movie of the year was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End followed closely by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. On the indie side of things, Juno entered our hearts, making space for oddball women to become leads. This is before the sort of commercial popularity of feminism (not that it was purer then, or now) but pop culture opened itself up to uncommon characters -- and where escapism failed, personalities prevailed. It's easy to envision Avril watching a movie like Juno, turning to a friend and saying, "She's exactly like me." So many of us young women did, too.
And still, 2007 was undeniably an incredible and weird time for music. The year was soundtracked and choreographed by Kanye's "Stronger," Soujia Boy's "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," T.I.'s "Big Things Poppin' (Do it)," Linkin Park's "What I've Done," Daughtry's "Home," and Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race," yet somehow, Avril came out on top. There's no real method to the madness except, perhaps, that those artists are driven by singles (and absolutely performed better than The Best Damn Thing). But Avril Lavigne is a young girl's artist, and young girls are the most loyal fans on the planet. They'll listen to the hits but they'll also buy your record. That's an ineffable power.
At its heart, The Best Damn Thing is a self-assured record. Where a decade of mythos might lead you to believe it's a title that reflects love, Avril lets it be known that the best damn thing is, in fact, herself. The Best Damn Thing's success might seem like a weird blip on pop culture's radar, but that's only in legacy -- at the time, it was a necessary record, an experiment for Avril but a safe choice for everyone else. It's records like these that mean a lot to a lot of people for a short period of time, and there's something uniquely wonderful about its temporary nature. Great art doesn't have an expiration date, but trends do. And Avril set that bar pretty damn high.