For many, it’s a match made in music hell; for others, a Canadian love story for the ages.
However one feels about the engagement of Canadian pop stars Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger, one thing is certain: When People magazine stunned the world with the news late Tuesday, the reaction was instantaneous. Twitter was afire with news of Canada’s answer to Brangelina. In Chavril, Canada had its own royal couple.
Part of the shock was the surprise itself. In the age of Twitter and TMZ, it is a rarity that a celebrity hook-up of this intensity happens away from the glare of the paparazzi.
“It is quite astonishing that they kept this such a secret, but it does show you that when stars really want to keep their private lives private, they’re still able to do so,” says Alison Eastwood, editor-in-chief of Hello! Canada, which nabbed the world exclusive interview.
It landed in their laps, the way these things often do, with Ms. Lavigne’s people contacting the magazine and offering them the story.
This was Monday. With a Tuesday evening deadline, Hello! Canada scrambled to get the future bride and groom on the line on Tuesday (Nickelback frontman Mr. Kroeger, 37, was on the road; Ms. Lavigne, 27, was launching a clothing line in Las Vegas), and turn the story around in time.
By Wednesday, the gushing glossy was in the mail to subscribers.
“It’s not something we take credit for; obviously they came to us with their story,” Ms. Eastwood says. “We’re happy that they did and we think we did it justice.”
(Perhaps an indication of the high level of interest: While Ms. Eastwood spoke to The Globe from a taxi, her driver chimed in throughout with his thoughts on the union. “Very romantic,” he said.)
Better than poutine and a playoff hockey game, the Canadian coupling began as a musical collaboration.
They started recording together in Los Angeles last February, a duet for Ms. Lavigne’s coming album.
Mr. Kroeger, who has never been married, and Ms. Lavigne, who is divorced from Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley (another Canadian), fell hard for all the right reasons: He was attracted to her courage (she moved to France on her own!). She loves that he’s Canadian – and funny.
“He is a really good guy and has such a kind heart,” Ms. Lavigne told Hello! Canada. “He takes care of me in every way and is extremely attentive.”
“There is a level of mutual respect that is so pure and wonderful it made me want to spend the rest of my life with her,” Mr. Kroeger told the magazine.
“I feel like the luckiest person alive because I get to be with my best friend every day.”
Perhaps equally astonishing to this love match is the fact that Mr. Kroeger – a bad boy of Canadian rock – apparently enjoys a little scrapbooking in his downtime.
He, in fact, proposed via scrapbook, according to Ms. Lavigne. “It was our fourth session in the studio,” she told Hello! Canada, “and I walked in on Aug. 8 and Chad was scrapbooking. He asked me to come over and see the page he just added in. I walked over to the book; he flipped the page and there was a picture of him holding the ring and the words ‘Will you marry me?’”
He was nervous.
He got down on one knee, offered up a 14-carat pear-shaped rock, and she said yes right away.
Not quite two weeks later, the world knew.
How did this juicy pair-up manage to fly under the tabloid radar for six whole months? Their collaboration provided a good cover, shielding the couple from being outed, even after photos surfaced of them together in Paris.
Also, “they’re kind of like B-list tabloid celebrities,” says University of British Columbia assistant professor of sociology Christopher Schneider, whose paper “Examining Elites Using Qualitative Media Analysis: Celebrity News Coverage and TMZ” will be published in the coming book Researching Amongst Elites: Challenges and Opportunities in Studying Up, which he is co-editing.
“They’re also Canadian. … There aren’t many tabloid Canadian superstars.”
While some of the nation cringes (based on all those cold-hearted social media quips), Mr. Kroeger may have found his happy ending.
“He told me he was very happy,” says Jonathan Simkin, Mr. Kroeger’s partner in 604 Records.
Mr. Simkin, in New York working with another star client, Carly Rae Jepsen, says he didn’t notice – or really care about – all the negative comments being made about his old friend.
“I think for those of us on the inside of the Nickelback team, we sort of stopped caring about that 30 million records ago.”