Sour has everything we could ask for: head-banging anger, honest and raw emotion, forgiveness, and vulnerability.
On Jan. 8, nineteen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo released “Drivers License,”which surpassed Spotify’s record for the most streams in one week, and currently has over 844 million streams on the platform.
The song’s releasesparked questions about Rodrigo’s romantic connection with twenty-year-old Joshua Basset. The two are co-stars in the show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, where their star-crossed characters navigate drama, love triangles, and the high-maintenance culture of their school’s drama club.
The pair’s on-screen chemistry coupled with the show’s popularity initiated rampant rumors about their relationship. Fans questioned whether the messy breakup and ex-boyfriend featured in “Drivers License”were symbolic, if not directly suggestive, of Rodrigo and Basset’s enigmatic relationship.
In Sour, Rodrigo’s stylistic pattern is clear—in the louder, fast-paced songs, she curses the tribulations of growing up and the torment of unrequited love.
Rodrigo credits much of her musical inspiration to Taylor Swift, who’s credited as a co-writer on the fourth track on the album, “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” The song’s slow, melodic piano introduction is almost identical to that of Swift’s “New Year’s Day,” which appears on her 2017 album, Reputation.
While the two artists appear to have a relationship and have appeared on one another’s social media pages, Rolling Stone determined that Rodrigo’s accreditation of Swift isn’t indicative of a collaboration between the two, but rather of interpolation.
In her opening track, “Brutal,” Rodrigo displays an edgy, teenage angst, explaining how unfair and disappointing adolescence is.
“I’m so sick of seventeen / Where’s my fucking teenage dream?…I’m anxious and nothing can help.”
Backed with head-banging music, “Brutal” evokes an Avril Lavigne-esque memory of the early 2000s, bedazzled low-rise jeans and all.
Rodrigo revisits this style a few tracks later in “Good 4 U,” where she curses out a certain ex-boyfriend.
“Well, good for you, I guess you moved on really easily…you’re doin’ great out there without me, baby / Like a damn sociopath.”
In her slower songs, Rodrigo is the sole songwriter and demonstrates a capacity for self-reflection and compassion.
In “Enough for You”, she clarifies that while she was “stupid, emotional, obsessive little me,” she didn’t deserve to be dropped and ignored: “Don’t you think I loved you too much to think I deserve nothing?”
I would be remiss not to mention the obvious fact that almost every one of Sour’s tracks references a romantic, tumultuous young love. However, on the final track, “Hope ur ok,” Rodrigo reminisces on childhood friends, wishing them well.
“Well, I hope you know how proud I am you were created… ‘Cause I love you, and I hope that you’re okay”.
Closing with a song of reflection on earlier days and old friends, Rodrigo is perhaps marking her transition out of adolescence and, consequently, away from her old relationships.
Her vulnerability, talent, and honesty pours through her music, especially in her slower, more personal songs. If ‘Sour’ is any indication of what is to come from Rodrigo, I’m eager to see her stylistic and song writing evolution.
Album review, Olivia Rodrigo, Sour
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