Olivia Rodrigo, a name probably unfamiliar to most only five months ago, is now topping charts and creating viral commotion and buzz among the younger generation and heartbroken girls alike. After Rodrigo dropped her debut single, “drivers license,” and rose to stardom faster than one could have ever imagined, there was no doubt that what the world needed was an album, and thankfully for us, she delivered.
SOUR, Rodrigo’s first-ever record, draws inspiration from some of her musical influences, such as Taylor Swift, while also embodying early 2000s pop-punk and icons like the band Paramore. Essentially, between the angsty and candid, crestfallen tracks, SOUR is every rejected and lonely soul’s saving grace and every cheating, lying player’s worst nightmare.
Even so, girls who are happily in healthy relationships are asking their boyfriends to break up with them for a short 35 minutes — the run-time of the album — just so they, too, can fully feel the effects of Rodrigo’s convincing and intense bitter and despair-filled emotions that the album ironically titled SOUR so obviously encompasses.
The album is said and assumed to have been written as a result of the falling out surrounding Rodrigo and her High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star and alleged ex-lover/situationship, Joshua Bassett. Going through heartache at a young age taught Rodrigo that “adolescence spares no one,” according to her interview with Apple Music. The familiarity of this too common theme of young love being all things unrequited, ill-fated and arbitrary is present throughout because, let’s face it, though it’s perceived as the most passionate, it’ll wreck one like none other.
Likewise, what makes SOUR so iconic and exceptional is how relatable every single song is because of the contrast of love, lust and relationship loss. Not one misses, as every individual tune reminds listeners they aren’t the only ones who are either insecure, enraged and jealous over someone or some girl they don’t even know, like “jealousy, jealousy” so clearly details or the only one who was left broken over someone they never even dated, such as what “traitor” discloses.
Arguably, “traitor” is the most heart-wrenching and well composed track on the album, considering it is a soft ballad and includes Swift-like impressions, as does “favorite crime” and “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” which even gives writing credits to the queen of both raw and empowering breakup anthems herself.
The two songs likely resonate with listeners more than they would wish them to, given in “traitor,” Rodrigo sings, “It took you two weeks / To go off and date her / Guess you didn't cheat / But you're still a traitor,” proving how common it is nowadays to be stuck in the “talking” and confused stage of a romantic affair, only to be betrayed in the end.
Rodrigo’s ability to not only continue to be a beautiful lyricist but also an intricate storyteller is truly commendable. The imagery and description in tracks “happier” and “enough for you” sound like an imposition into Rodrigo’s 17-year-old diary, as she makes selfish confessions such as, “So find someone great but don't find no one better / I hope you're happy, but don't be happier.” She also declares her deepest insecurities by singing, “I wore makeup when we dated / 'Cause I thought you'd like me more.” She claims to know that though she might be thinking irrationally, she still can’t refrain from feeling so.
“hope ur ok” deserves to be recognized, as it continues with the slower, softer ballad theme along with meaningful lyrics. However, for the first time on the album, the last track is a tribute to those who have struggled and touched Rodrigo in the past versus a track that is her story. Instead, she tells ones for those who don’t have the same platform to do so and who just as equally deserve to be heard.
Despite the number of more measured songs, there are also those filled with rage and fervor where Rodrigo lets her voice explore new realms and territory of music, ultimately leaving her to not be confined to one stereotypical genre.
Easily, the opener, with high energy and irritation that Rodrigo’s teenage years have been anything but a “teenage dream,” “brutal” sets the tone for the rest of the album that it will be anything but cheerful content.
Aside from “drivers license,” both “deja vu” and “good 4 u” accompanied viral TikTok trends and became popular sounds on the app themselves. Everyone knows you can’t even open the social platform right now without hearing “good 4 u.” The same went for “deja vu” in April and “drivers license” in February.
These three tracks are what outlined and defined the success of SOUR and had individuals worldwide anticipating the release. Undeniably, without question, they are standout tracks, all contrasting, with “drivers license” being a narrative indie-like song, “deja vu” with its psychedelic undertones paired with Rodrigo’s tenor vocals and “good 4 u” with its conventional screw you message that, in this instance, simply works.
SOUR is both new and refreshing but only because of how nostalgic and reminiscent it is of earlier forms of pop, punk and the genre that is exclusively known as Taylor Swift. Come 2021, it was time for everything old to become new again, so thank you Olivia for bringing everyone back to a better time and also helping the heartbroken forever get through periods of grief.