By Kacie Back
At 20 years old, artist Olivia Rodrigo released her second album, GUTS, debuting at number one on Billboard’s 200 album chart, but how did she do it?
With four songs in Spotify’s Top 10 list streamed for the week of September 18th, Olivia Rodrigo is yet again proving herself a musical genius. Written and produced along with Dan Nigro, Rodrigo has surely made a name for herself with this album.
What is making her so successful?
Well, at 20 years old, Rodrigo has a connection with a generation who is fully enthralled in social media, Generation Z. From Disney Channel to playing arenas, Rodrigo has grown up alongside this generation.
Spanning from 13 to 24 years old, Gen-Z has become a generation that is not shy to own their feelings. Growing up in an age of young depression and self-loathing, music has become an outlet for many, explaining Rodrigo’s ultimate success. In the past, she has been known for her emotional, gut-wrenching songs, such as “drivers license,” “traitor,” and more. Now, she shares a bit more versatility in her new album GUTS, venturing into a bit of rock, along with her classic pop songs and musical ballads.
A Sense of Nostalgia
I think for some, Olivia has become a timeless icon, comparable to those like Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, and even Taylor Swift. She has a pop-punk flare, similar to Avril and Britney, not only in her music, but also in her style.
When it comes to her comparison to Taylor Swift, I think it has more to do with her astronomical success at such a young age. Rodrigo has mentioned plenty of times that a lot of her inspiration stems from Taylor Swift, as reflected in some of her music. While Rodrigo has songs with more of a punk-rock touch, she also has some slowed down, sad, “breakup” songs, such as “traitor,” “logical,” and “favorite crime.” These songs align a bit more with Swift’s genre. Overall, Olivia is creating her own brand: something that has a mix of upbeat, slow, happy, sad, and angry songs, but also a little bit of a reference or inspiration to past pop stars that have come before her.
Personal Favorites From GUTS
1. “making the bed”
This song perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be a depressed teenage girl, something I know pretty well. The chorus replicates the feeling of pushing away all the good things you thought you wanted, then being upset that it’s all gone, and in the end, realizing you made the bed for yourself to lay in regret. This song is truly a wonderfully crafted self-deprecating ballad.
2. “get him back!”
A complete switch up from “making the bed,” this song takes on an upbeat, teenage angst vibe. Making a play on words in the title, Rodrigo wants to get revenge back, but also get back together with the guy described in the song. The album’s fun and playful energy is what makes it unique.
3. “the grudge”
Well, we are back to the sad, slow ballads, but what can I say? I have a keen heart for a good, gut-wrenching song. Here, Rodrigo touches on the idea of being strong against her (presumably) ex-partner in her head, but having no strength face-to-face. Resonating with the feeling of being torn down, unable to bring myself back up, this song places 3rd on my list.
4. “all-american bitch”
This song is particularly special, and definitely a fan favorite. Ladies, have you ever felt like you’re screaming inside, but put a beautiful face on to hide it? If you answered yes, this song is for you. Rodrigo shifts back and forth between a high-pitched, talking-through-a-fake-smile voice and a scream-sing. Actually, at one point she just starts screaming. Representing what it is like to hide behind a smile in hopes to adhere to the standards a woman is held to, Rodrigo ignites a flame beneath women who are sick and tired of putting on a show.
Making my top five, this song is unlike any song Olivia has put out in the past. The sound, lyrics, and production are distinctive, and remind me of something Gracie Abrams would put out (another rising female artist). Rodrigo addresses obsessive jealousy in this track, explaining that she can’t seem to keep her mind off of her partner’s ex. Because it is so sonically and lyrically different from her other songs, I have grown to love it for its uniqueness.
Overall, Rodrigo has stunned with this album between its versatility in music styles and ability to connect with the young population today. If you’re leaving this post wanting a bit more, check out Olivia at Nationwide Arena in March! I can’t wait to see what comes up next for her, as I predict her popularity and success will only rise.