Olivia Rodrigo drops highly anticipated debut ‘SOUR’

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Photo courtesy of Genius.com

Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR” had instant success following its release on May 21.

Lauren Karmo, Managing Editor

Many have been waiting for 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo to release her debut album “SOUR,” and it did not disappoint.

Rivaling industry powerhouses like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, the “drivers license” singer has seen of the most success a female artist has ever had with her first three singles — which also include “deja vu” and “good 4 u”.  With just 35 minutes of music, Rodrigo has landed all 11 of her tracks in the top 20 Global, U.S. and U.K. Spotify charts. A feat which has only been accomplished by one other female artist.

Aside from the numbers, Rodrigo’s music speaks for itself. The Disney star got to showcase her voice on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” but her fans aren’t just the 9-16-year-olds the show is marketed to — she’s managed to become a household name in a matter of months.

While her marketing team is a genius between “SOUR”-themed Sour Patch and getting her singles viral on TikTok, it’s undeniable that Rodrigo has real talent. Her live performances are indistinguishable from her produced ones, and she stuns her fans with fresh music videos — including one with strong references to one of my favorite horror movies, “Jennifer’s Body.”

Opening with arguably the best song on the album, “brutal” makes the listener excited for what’s to come. Taking strong influence from “Cherry Bomb” and ’90s grunge, this track makes me feel like I’m 16 and I hate the world. Her verses are so genius in this song, including the lines “I’m not cool, and I’m not smart/ And I can’t even parallel park.” Me neither, bestie.

The track list follows Olivia through the stages of a breakup — infamously suspected to be about costar Joshua Bassett — and does so with honesty. The second track “traitor” puts me back to that sick, sick sadness that follows any breakup. While it might be overshadowed by the following track — “drivers license,” which put her on everyone’s radar — “traitor” is worth a listen.

While all three singles were some of the best songs on the album, “good 4 u” is by far the best. While “drivers license” was so relatable and sad, it was nothing we hadn’t seen from Lorde or Taylor — “good 4 u” is one of the first pop songs in a while that took a page from the punk scene, and I predict that it along with “brutal” will push mainstream pop into something more pop punk with those teen-angst vibes.

The seventh track “enough for you” cites the same influence from another young artist, Gracie Abrams that we see in previous tracks “traitor” and “drivers license” with exposed, powerful vocals and in her cord progressions. This, along with the other ballads on the album, displays the real, raw talent behind Rodrigo.

“happier,” the best ballad on the album, following “enough for you,” is the one perfect song on this album and exactly what I was expecting from her. In all her songs, she directs her anger from the breakup to the ex she’s singing about, and while she had the opportunity to trash the girl who is the subject of this song, she can’t help but compliment her. The maturity, both in the concept and in her voice, is what makes this track so compelling and honest.

We get another upbeat track with “jealousy, jealousy,” and it comes at just the right time. I can see this as the kind of song you play while driving around in the summer, windows down, sunglasses on. It doesn’t feel out of place with some of the sadder, slower songs despite it’s change of pace.

The final two songs of the album, “favorite crime” and “hope ur ok” are the most mature of the album and hint toward closure. These two both experiment more with layering and harmonies and demonstrate some of her genius songwriting — reminding us that Rodrigo wrote the majority of these songs by herself or with the help of one other songwriter.

With just her first album, Rodrigo has rocked with music industry. This album was exactly what we needed from a young new voice, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Rating: 5/5