Have you guys heard of Olivia Rodrigo?

Photo Courtesy | Wikimedia Commons

Have you guys heard of Olivia Rodrigo? She’s, like, super underground. Kind of the shining star of angsty pop? An artist who is actually open to learning and is using her music in a very lovely, self-focused way? A TV star who had one of the most brutal (heh) breakups of our generation? “The youngest artist in Hot 100 history to debut three hits at No. 1?”

I don’t know if you could tell, but I love Olivia Rodrigo. I know most of her songs by heart and I’m only 3 seasons behind in High School Musical the Musical the Series (or HSMTMTS, for those in the know). Although she only has 2 albums (technically 3 but I’m counting spilled as part of GUTS), Olivia has opened my eyes to a kind of songwriting and a relationship with music you rarely see in major celebrities. She is writing more honestly than most artists that I have heard on the radio – I’m looking at you, Little Miss Fortnight featuring Post Malone. Also, even if you take out the lyrics of Rodrigo’s songs, you still have really spectacular pieces on their own. They’re pretty much all all-timers. Swelling and full instrumentals that feel perfectly curated for our favorite broken hearted queen that switch to head-banging (as much as possible with the lyrics) rock/punk instrumentals? I honestly don’t know why more people haven’t been frothing at the mouth at how crazy good her instrumental sections are. They go so hard. 

My main opinion this week is more than just the fact that Olivia Rodrigo is better and smarter and cooler than most people. It’s that she is using her albums like a personal growth diary, and I love it. Go back and listen to SOUR  and then GUTS (including the spilled tracks, obvi), and listen to how she has changed. Listen to the story grow and shift from what’s-his-name being the focus to Olivia being the focus. SOUR is full of longing and desolation right after a devastating breakup, but GUTS is Olivia rediscovering herself and going out. Of course GUTS isn’t a wholly new story, so we get to continue to hear new revelations about relationships and change bringing us back to how this all started. 

Just a brief interlude to discuss Olivia’s breakout hit, “Driver’s License”. God, what a song. Truly a ballad for every 17-21 year old girl. We’ve all been there. I hope that Olivia continues to write her music with her own journey at the core. She’s an incredible storyteller.

I hope that Olivia also branches out to making more music that pushes the boundaries of angst and pop, as she has been doing with songs that may not perform as well as the singles but are doing something unique – like “Lacy” or “hope ur ok.” They’re both full of emotion and interesting lyrics, and will be crucial pieces to look back to in the future when considering Olivia’s development as an artist. The great thing about Olivia is that she loves trying new things and moving forwards while still keeping a core set of talents and genres right where you can see them and feel comfortable. For example, the vocal layering in “Lacy” is really a neat effect that helps develop the open cathedral vibe.

Beyond the relationship songs, Olivia has infused GUTS with songs about age, gender, and fame. ‘teenage dream’ is such a song, it kills you. All of the songs that argue for change are fantastic and I honestly feel like they fill a void for Gen Z of someone our age talking about how so many things still suck but saying it in a really fun, musically impressive way. Millennial music that complains is all well and good, but the problems of today’s youth are different to a degree that they’ll never understand like a 20 year old girl can. So many songs on spilled are about how people are always going to talk down to younger people and women and it’s awful that this is still an issue, but thank god someone is saying it with this sort of platform. Maybe it’ll be heard by someone who hasn’t put it all together yet, teenagers right now who get to learn about someone who is going through the same stuff as them. 

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