When Olivia Rodrigo burst onto the scene with the fastest growing song in Spotify history, I, like most males my age, judged a book by its cover and wrote her off. I thought “Driver’s License” was another radio-friendly, sappy song with no real meaning. Then Rodrigo posted a TikTok wearing a shirt with my idol Kurt Cobain’s face on it, and I fell in love.
When Rodrigo came out with the alt-rock song “Good 4 U,” which sounded like a ‘poppier’ version of my favorite Nirvana tracks, my love for her grew even more (we’re both 20, it's not weird). Unfortunately the exact evidence was lost, but this remake shows what I was getting at: I was willing to be Rodrigo’s dog if it meant I could be her friend.
Over time, my love for Rodrigo became less about our shared love of Cobain, and more about her songwriting genius. It has been two years since Rodrigo came out with the hit album “Sour,” but after listening to the album and unreleased tracks hundreds of times, watching her amazing performance in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and her documentary “driving home 2 U,” I have come to a conclusion: Rodrigo will be bigger than The Beatles (who were bigger than Jesus, according to John Lennon).
Rodrigo’s “Sour” received a lot of criticism for a debut album. Why? Because it was extremely popular, and people don’t like seeing other people happy. Quickly I will debunk every myth regarding Rodrigo’s fame.
According to many Rodrigo haters, the record-setting popularity of “Driver’s License” goes hand-in-hand with the growth of TikTok. To some extent those haters would be correct, Rodrigo’s first TikTok about the song garnered an impressive 68 million views, but every era had a way to expand its reach. In the 1960s, up-and-coming bands benefitted from the spotlight of the Ed Sullivan Show. In the 1990s, musical acts needed to come up with an exciting video that could be showcased on MTV. In the early 2010s, certain musical acts greatly benefitted from the fast growing nature of YouTube. Perhaps The Beatles wouldn’t be the household name they are today if 73 million people hadn’t watched them on the Ed Sullivan Show, but maybe great music finds a way to reach a lot of people because it is genuinely really good.
“Walmart Taylor Swift”
The “this artist is just a lesser version of another artist in their genre” critique makes me want to bang my head against a wall. You mean to tell me certain artists sound like their influencers? No way!
“Rodrigo’s fame and reputation are boosted because of the controversy with Joshua Bassett”
After Rodrigo put her song on TikTok, rumors began to circulate that “Driver’s License” was about Rodrigo’s failed relationship with fellow “HSMTMTS” co-star Joshua Bassett. Those rumors haven’t been confirmed but seem to be true. Of course, some people became invested in “Sour” because of the drama, but the emotion and intensity that Rodrigo put into “Driver’s License” is what drove people to find out more about the song.
If I found out that Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was about something heavy like the dangers of party culture, I wouldn’t think, “Oh, that’s a great song, I’m going to follow her the rest of her career,” I would think, “Why wasn’t any of that emotion in the track?”
For me, there is almost a mythology surrounding Rodrigo that no one else sees. She wrote her first song at the age of five, every song she’s written (both released and unreleased) has an interesting verse, chorus or vocal melody, and she finally breathed life into the dying rock genre.
I defended Rodrigo so much for so long, I lost sight of what my actual opinion of “Sour” is. I don’t love “Sour” because it’s my favorite album, I love it because it reminds me of my favorite albums. “Sour” isn’t perfect (neither was “Please Please Me”), and it certainly isn’t enough evidence to crown Rodrigo as the greatest artist ever. But considering Rodrigo’s age when she wrote many of the hit songs on “Sour,” she is off to as good of a start as any artist ever.
At this stage of their career, The Beatles were making catchy, although shallow, songs. Of course they went on to become the greatest band of all time, but if anyone can get to that level it's the wise-beyond-her-years, Rodrigo.
Bobby Gorbett is a junior studying journalism. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Bobby know by tweeting him @GorbettBobby.