It’s no doubt that Olivia Rodrigo has made waves in the music scene this year, this young popstar has blossomed out of her Disney image. After staring on Disney’s Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS), Rodrigo has made a name for herself among older circles with her song “driver’s license” that went viral on TikTok earlier this year. Allegedly, this song, and many other on her recently released album, are about her co-star on HSMTMTS, Joshua Bassett. The two were involved in a romantic relationship and a few weeks after it ended, Bassett ended up dating another former Disney star, Sabrina Carpenter.
Despite all the gossip and drama, (that oddly interests me a lot) I want to focus on her music. The teen has made waves with her first album SOUR. A few notable songs being “brutal”, “good 4 u” and of course, “drivers license”.
The album debuts with the song “brutal” which encapsulates the angst and betrayal of growing up. Rodrigo really captures the essence of frustration with which many in Gen Z relate. I find angst, anger and rage of young people often not taken seriously by older generations and it’s nice to see young people such as Rodrigo expressing themselves regardless. The tones of self-pity and entitlement are especially relatable in this song. The singer-songwriter even adds self-deprecating humour used by Gen Z with the line “And I can’t even parallel park”. This is great song to thrash out to when you feel wronged and angry. Overall, the music is very catchy, distorted and grungy, which I honestly did not expect from Rodrigo.
The next song, “traitor”, is not one of my favourites off this album. It’s a good breakup song if you were previously dating somebody who was emotionally unfaithful, because that’s the main subject of this song. Rodrigo sings about her previous relationship and how she was more committed than he was. It’s very sad, which is not necessarily bad, just personally too sad for me. Objectively though, the music is lovely. It’s full of sorrow, love and pain. The depth of emotion in Rodrigo’s voice in this song makes me feel everything she feels.
One of the more popular songs on the album, ‘”déjà vu”, speaks of a love recycled. Rodrigo shares personal moments of her previous relationship, such as inside jokes and spots her and her partner frequented, and shares how her boyfriend reused all the material on his new lover. I didn’t expect to like this song, but the instrumentals add a layer of distortion and a beat that compliments the vocals so beautifully. The ache in Rodrigo’s voice is palpable and alluring. The song isn’t as depressing as I make it out to be, it’s still very catchy and enjoyable.
“happier” encapsulates the selfishness felt when letting a partner go. The sweet melody and instrumentals compliment Rodrigo’s heart wrenching lyrics, especially “I hope you’re happy, but not like how you were with me”. Honestly, this song could have been written by anyone and it’s not very unique or special, but still agreeable. I find the same with “jealousy, jealousy”, which is the only song other than “hope ur ok” on the album that’s not about a breakup. It’s snappy but very ordinary.
And now, my favorite song “good 4 u”. The emotion and anger in Rodrigo’s voice is engaging and mesmerizing. You can’t help but scream the lyrics along with her. You can hear her previous commitment to her partner and the deception she felt. It’s not quite as grungy as “brutal” but even catchier, still with bits of electric guitar that give it a slightly grungy feel. It is a fan favorite and has gone viral on TikTok, for good reason.
Overall, I feel like Rodrigo’s style is very common and replaceable and she has more potential vocally. Her lyrics are nice but also could have been written by anyone who’s been through a breakup. The album is nice and easy to listen to though.
As someone who rarely indulges in pop, I can see why this album is popular. If you like Conan Gray, Beach Bunny, Billie Eilish, Clairo or Taylor Swift, I would recommend this album to you. Happy listening!