Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated debut album, SOUR, dropped on May 21. The album features a great mix of upbeat pop/pop-punk songs to scream along to as well as heartbreaking anthems to cry to (and probably scream to too, let’s be honest).
Rodrigo’s music career began with her single “All I Want,” which was premiered on the soundtrack of the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Her debut album has eleven tracks. Rodrigo is a co-writer on all of the songs, but the album also features other writers, such as Dan Nigro, and notably Taylor Swift and Jack Antanoff, who Rodrigo openly expresses her admiration for. The album has debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and achieved RIAA Gold Certification in the first week, as well as being the biggest opening week for a debut album in the last two years.
Rodrigo had released three singles from the album before the debut- “driver’s license,” (I reviewed here!), “deja vu,” and “good 4 u.” I believe these songs were the perfect capsule of not only the different styles of music Rodrigo produces, but also the range of emotions to be expected in the album.
While the general theme of SOUR is about the process of heartbreak and healing, Rodrigo also expresses other personal emotions, like in her song “jealousy, jealousy,” where she expresses her difficulties with societal standards. Similarly, a song I loved from the first listen was “brutal,” the first track, that surprised me with it’s more punk-like beat. A commentary about her life as a celebrity, it was, in my opinion, the best beginning possible for her album.
The second track, “traitor,” is one that I feel is unique lyrically compared to a lot of modern heartbreak songs. Based on the feeling of when someone you are in a relationship with betrays you but does not necessarily cheats on you, I think it is a great commentary of how relationships are now. So much of relationships have turned into shades of grey, and Rodrigo deciphers these moments and the aftermath of the unfaithfulness.
I had previously claimed that “drivers license” was the heartbreak anthem of the year, but i think the track “enough for you” is coming for that title. The song is her processing the feelings of not feeling like she is appreciated or valued in a previous relationship, and the emotions and hardship that comes with that. The song ends with the hope of one day being “everyone for someone else,” a theme of moving on that occurs throughout the album.
As previously mentioned, Rodrigo admires Taylor Swift, and many fans noticed their collaboration on her track “1 step forward, 3 steps back.” Rodrigo interpolated Swift’s song “New Years Day,” and co-wrote it with Swift and Antonoff. The contrast of the songs, Swift’s being of falling in love and Rodrigo’s being about falling out of it, brings a special connection to those who are fans of both artists.
Watch the official music video for Olivia’s song “good 4 u” here:
Something I love about Rodrigo is how open and personal she is in her tracks. I applaud her ability to be so open and transparent about her life and love in such a critical world. Her talent for lyric writing is absolutely breathtaking, and takes her to the next level as an artist. My favorite lyrics from the album appear on her final track, “hope ur ok,” which expresses love for those she has met and encountered. The line “I hope you know how proud I am you were created, with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred. God I hope that you are happier today, ‘Cause I love you, and I hope that you’re okay,” brings tears to my eyes and goosebumps down my arms. The song finishes an album of pain and growth with a message of love and hope.
This album is one that I know will personally define my 2021 music experience and I would not be surprised to see it hit the top of my Spotify wrapped this year. I am excited to see what Rodrigo puts out in the future. I know I would love to see her continue exploring her music style, and perhaps some collaborations in the future too.
Watch the official music video for Olivia’s song “deja vu” here:
At only 18, Olivia Rodrigo is making a name as a popular, talented, and incredibly intimate singer-songwriter. If you enjoy SOUR and want to listen to similar music, I recommend checking out singer-songwriter Gina Royale, and her new track “Here’s To You”! Sterogum also made a list of 7 artists you should check out if you love SOUR. Read it here.