Olivia Rodrigo Revives Our Angsty Teen Spirit in ‘Sour’. The Disney starlet that’s bringing back the fiesty 2000s music we’ve all been missing.
If you’ve been on the internet this past year, you definitely heard of the name Olivia Rodrigo, everyone’s favorite pop star on the rise. Rodrigo marks the first viral breakout from a new generation of Disney Stars — if the last generation had Miley, Selena, and Demi, the new generation has Olivia.
Her breakout single “Driver’s License” follows the story of how her now-ex has left her for another starlet and it became an instant hit on Tiktok, on the charts, and just about anywhere else. After the release of her single, the world was anticipating the album that follows, and ‘Sour’ definitely did not disappoint. The album, which was just out last month, appealed not only to the teens of Gen Z but also to those already in their 20s and maybe even the 30s.
But how exactly did the 18-year-old star manage to grab the attention of all these generations? Nostalgia. Her debut album has obvious influences of the angsty pop-rock songs that took the 2000s music scene by storm. Even on the album’s cover her face was covered in old-school Lisa Frank stickers. Perhaps emo music is making its way back to the charts, with other female musicians like Willow Smith and Maggie Lindemann shifting their gears to more angsty releases in the recent past.
Her follow up single “good 4 u” has that same amount of pent-up anger that haunts you from your first heartbreak. The song has the same fiery spirit you can hear in Paramore classics and Avril Lavigne hits, not to mention the video that was styled by Devon Carlson and directed by Petra Collins, both being powerhouses in bringing back the Y2K aesthetics.
The other tracks of the album are just as nostalgic as the singles. One of the highlights being “Brutal”, a song about self-doubt, not meeting expectations, and feeling like your youth is taken away from you (a common feeling everyone’s been feeling amidst the pandemic). It combines heavy guitars, a melancholic string section, and Rodrigo’s take on sprechstimme. The song’s use of strings in the song reminds you of old Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, while her angsty vocal techniques make the song sound like something Taylor Momsen would ace.
Rodrigo also mentions how Taylor Swift is an inspiration for her, and this shows in her lyricism and storytelling. Like Swift, Rodrigo intertwines specific details of her past relationships into her lyrics, like the self-help books she started reading to impress her ex, and how she did her makeup to look like the prom queens he’s dated before, as mentioned in the vulnerable, acoustic-heavy track ‘enough for you’.
One would expect a Disney star to be clean-cut and filled with positivity, not one that cusses on her tracks and compares her ex-boyfriend to a sociopath. This perhaps is another part of Rodrigo’s appeal is the rebellious teen spirit she maintains, defying what one would expect from a Disney starlet. Her debut album was definitely a great kick starter to her career as a musician, and with the closing track “hope ur ok” leaving listeners on a note of growth and maturity, we can only anticipate what Rodrigo has next up her sleeves. (Text Vanya Harapan)