There is no shortage of interviews and articles charting Olivia Rodrigo’s rise to fame. One moment she was an actress with a lead role in a mildly popular teen drama, the next—and almost overnight—she blew up on TikTok and became pegged as pop music’s “one to watch” with the release of ‘Drivers License’, which opened at and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks.
Keeping up her winning streak, Rodrigo released two more stellar singles that showed different sides of the teenage schoolgirl persona she had created. The twinkling ‘Deja Vu’ and scornful ‘Good 4 U’—which introduced the world to angsty Olivia. Her ‘Picture To Burn’, if you will.
Rodrigo’s debut album ‘SOUR’, which arrives this week, furthers her introduction as an artist: a gutsy collection that one might not have come to expect from a member of the Disney actor-to-popstar pipeline. The album opens with ‘Brutal’, whose lyrics see Rodrigo put the perils of being a young celebrity on full display: “And I’m so sick of seventeen / Where’s my fucking teenage dream? / If someone tells me one more time / ‘Enjoy your youth,’ I’m gonna cry”. It’s certainly a fiery opener, one that might have come as more of a shock if not for the release of ‘Good 4 U’ just a week prior, which clued us in on the singer’s 2000s pop-punk influences.
Elsewhere, ‘Jealousy, Jealousy’, one of the album’s best tracks and a contender for its next single, also imbues a sense of social consciousness in its lyrics as the 19-year-old sings about “Girls too good to be true / With paper white teeth and perfect bodies”. In her interview with NYLON, Rodrigo revealed that the inspiration for the song came when she found herself developing an unhealthy relationship with social media—we’ve all been there.
Ever since ‘Drivers License’, Rodrigo has been drawing comparisons to Taylor Swift for her similarly confessional lyricism and knack for poignant imagery. On ‘1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back’, the two artists come together as the song borrows from Swift’s ‘Reputation’ cut, ‘New Year’s Day’. And there are little “Swift-isms” peppered throughout ‘SOUR’ as well. The lyrics “You couldn’t have cared less about someone who loved you more” from ‘Enough For You’; the folky ‘Favorite Crime’ that sounds like it could be plucked from Swift’s ‘Folklore’/’Evermore’ universe; the mentions of sweaters, trees and coffee throughout the album—just to name a few.
In the same way that Swift was beloved for her ability to make feelings of heartbreak, jealousy and teenage angst all feel universal, ‘SOUR’ is Rodrigo showing she’s got more than just one relatable character in her wheelhouse. She can be both bitchy high school cheerleader and rueful writer of love letters, so don’t be too quick to pigeonhole her just yet. ‘SOUR’ is both burn book and romance novel, and Rodrigo’s total package as the singer-songwriter behind it is truly once-in-a-generation. It’s hard to believe she’s only getting started, but you can count us in for the ride (even if she’s still working on her parallel parking). 🚙
For more juicy tunes, check out our New Music Friday playlist here!