Olivia Rodrigo, the 18-year-old singer and actress, just released her debut album, SOUR, after her song “driver’s license” hit number 1 on Billboard Global and had 130 million streams.
I recommend listening to the songs while reading.
Her debut album starts with a punk-rock track that talks about how her teenage years don’t fit her expectations because most people say that they are the “golden years”. She talks about her insecurities and how cruel the music/acting industry can be towards young people. This is a song filled with rage and frustration which describes perfectly what most teenagers feel.
The next song is “traitor”, one of my favourites in the album. She talks about a relationship where she knew her partner was with someone else. And although he didn’t cheat, he still betrayed her. Her voice is low and disappointed, she explains how rapidly her partner started dating another girl after breaking up with her. My favorite lyric of the song is “I wish that you had thought this through / Before I went and fell in love with you”. The song ends with this line in what is almost a whisper, as if her voice can’t handle singing anymore.
“driver’s license” was the song that made her name known. The song talks about being in denial after a relationship has ended. How she stills pictures him in the suburbs, where they spent their time together. How she stills hears his voice. She loves him and is physically unable to “drive past the places [they] used to go to” because of the memories that resurface her mind. The song mentions a third person in the relationship which presumably ended Olivia and her partner’s relationship.
“1 step forward, 3 steps back” describes her relationship as walking on a thin thread. She explains how different her relationship was when her partner was mad at her. She feels as though the relationship didn’t improve because everytime they were good, he got angry and ruined their progress. She gained more insecurities and started doubting herself because of her inconsistent relationship. A lyric that stuck out to me is “I’m the love of your life until I make you mad”. The abusive relationship being depicted made her question, “will you walk me to the door or send me home crying”.
“Do you get deja vu when she’s with you?” asks Olivia in her song “deja vu”. She talks about how her ex partner’s new relationship is a reused version of their former relationship. Different habits in Olivia and her partner’s old relationship like watching Glee, singing Billy Joel and eating strawberry ice cream are now part of his ex’s new relationship life. Olivia also feels bad for the new girl, “she thinks it’s special but it’s all reused”, because the new girl is not getting something unique. Olivia asks him “when are you gonna tell her, that we did that too?” Olivia is disappointed in herself for falling in love with someone who didn’t care about their relationship.
“good 4 u” is another song filled with rage and confusion. Olivia uses a sarcastic tone in this track. The song describes how her ex is now getting everything he wants and doesn’t care that they just went through a break-up. She sarcastically says, “good for you, you look happy and healthy” and that she is definitely not. But he doesn’t bother to ask about it. She is mad that he’s unaffected and moving on from their relationship. She is jealous and wants to be as unbothered as him. Instead, she spends nights on the bathroom floor crying. Also, she is jealous that his new partner will get this “better” version of him instead of her. Olivia doesn’t know if she’s being too emotional and immature or if it’s him who never cared at all. This is a great song for getting your rage out after you see that your ex has moved on.
The next song is named similarly to track 6 but it is drastically different. “Enough for you” talks about how high his expectations were for her and that all she ever wanted was to be enough for him. She wore make-up, learned how he did his coffee, read his self-help books all in efforts of satisfying his expectations. She realizes that his expectations were unachievable and that it was him who was wrong and not her. Now, she doesn’t “want [his] sympathy [she] just wants [herself] back”. This relationship changed how she viewed herself, it broke her and gave her insecurities she didn’t know she had. However, she ends the song with acceptance that “someday I’ll be everything to somebody else” because “nothing’s enough for you”.
“Happier” is another beautiful song in the album. She is stuck in this phase of jealousy of her ex’s new relationship. She doesn’t want their relationship to be better than the one they shared. She’s also disappointed in being envious of the new girl, “and now I’m pickin’ her apart / Like cuttin’ her down will make you miss my wretched heart”. Olivia wants them to be happy, but a part of herself doesn’t want to let go. The song ends with her saying “I hope you’re happy but don’t be happier”. Olivia recognizes her selfishness and recognizes that she’s still partly in love with him, but she’s trying to be happy for them. This song perfectly describes the bittersweet feeling that comes with seeing your ex partner with someone new and not knowing whether to feel happy for them or wishing that would be you.
The theme of jealousy and high expectations remains prominent in track 9, “jealousy, jealousy”. Olivia talks about social media and how all she sees “are girls too good to be true, with paper white teeth and perfect bodies”. Olivia realizes that comparison is killing her true self slowly because she’s turning into what people expect from her. She cares too much about the opinions of people who don’t truly know her. She admits that she would have rather been anyone else when the “jealousy started following” her. Then, she brings back the topic of his ex’s new relationship and says “I’m happy for them, but then again, I’m not”. Jealousy seems like an inescapable puzzle that goes from being envious of others to not caring at all. She knows “their win is not [her] loss” but still she “can’t help getting caught up in it all”.
Track 10, “favorite crime” is the last song about Olivia’s past relationship. This metaphor-filled song talks about losing yourself and letting yourself be treated poorly. In my opinion, I think this song additionally alludes to Olivia and his ex’s age gap, she was 16 and he was 19 when they were together. She probably feels regret that she let herself get abused even though it wasn’t her fault. She regrets all the things she did “just so I could call you mine”. This song also talks about how blinded love makes you. She defended him time and time again even if he didn’t deserve it. She ends the song with hopes that she is his favorite crime.
The last track of this incredible album is called “hope ur ok”. Rodrigo talks about an old friend whose parents didn’t accept his sexuality and “cared more about the Bible / Than being good to their own child”. She regrets losing contact with him and she dedicates this song to him with wishes that he got out of that difficult situation. She then talks about a middle school friend whose “parents hated who she loved”. Olivia doesn’t talk too much with her but she wonders if “she knows how proud I am she was created?/With the courage to unlearn all of their hatred?” This song is a beautiful song with a strong meaning behind it. Olivia hopes that this song will get to them and that those old friends are okay. I think Olivia chose this song as the last track for it to convey a message to all of her fans who find themselves in situations where their parents don’t accept them.
I think that this is the best album of 2021 so far, and the more you listen to it the more you like it. There is no doubt that Olivia Rodrigo is a talented singer and writer, she has a huge future ahead of her and I’m excited to see her grow.