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Obert Opines: Olivia Rodrigo has become a great rock star through ‘Guts’

When I came home from college for the first time, the thing I wanted to see most was my 8-month-old dog. I was so excited to see him that my teeth chattered for 45-minutes on the way home. I walked through the door, and my dog went ballistic. He zoomed around the living room and then sat right on our chair. I like to think he was as excited to see me as I was to see him. 

Two years later, my mom sends me photos of him every day, and every day, I look forward to it. The only day I missed my mom's message was Sept. 8, 2023. My phone was on Do Not Disturb because Olivia Rodrigo's sophomore album "Guts" was coming out, and I didn't want a single spoiler from a fake fan who listened to the leaks. Flash forward to midnight, and I was a nervous wreck. After months of being bullied, I finally switched from YouTube music to Spotify. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to use the app.

The nervousness made me dumb as a rock, but I finally figured it out at 12:02 a.m. and listened to "all-american b—-" immediately. The lyrics were unapologetically edgy, an extreme tone shift from "Sunshine across my window," to a howling scream that reminded me of Kurt Cobain.

To me, releasing "Guts" was Rodrigo's way of asserting herself and her style for the first time. "Sour" was an extremely specific, personal record. She utilized her angst to allow her audience to understand what it means to be a teenager, which in 2021 came with its own challenges as the world slowly emerged from a global pandemic. 

From an instrumental and tonal perspective, I don't think Rodrigo knew if she wanted to be Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift or Alanis Morisette. On "ballad of a homeschooled girl," the song's production was reminiscent of something pulled from Weezer's "Pinkerton." The guitar playing behind "pretty isn't pretty" sounded like Smashing Pumpkins. The tone shift in "all-american b—-" reminded me of Spiderbait. Rodrigo still has a multitude of influences, but now she has become a bonafide rock star.

What makes any rock star great has been central to Rodrigo's music her whole career. She makes her songs extremely passionate because they're very personal to her. Yes, at times, it makes her lyrics awfully specific, but I don't have to relate to her experience– I have to relate to the emotion behind it.

I don't know who or what Rodrigo was talking about when she said, "I guess you didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me" in "driver's license," but her performance was so emotional I knew that she cared about what she was singing about, and therefore so did I.

At age 17, Rodrigo defined what it meant to be a teenager in 2020 and became the spokesperson of her generation with "Sour." At age 19, she's breathing life into a previously dying genre with "Guts."

Bobby Gorbett is a senior 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.

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