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Culture > Entertainment

No, ‘GUTS’ Isn’t About Joshua Bassett — But Its *Actual* Meaning Is Incredible

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. From “vampire to “bad idea, right?, the three time Grammy award winner, Olivia Rodrigo, has had the whole world in a chokehold waiting patiently(OK, maybe not so patiently) for her sophomore album GUTS. Now that it’s finally here, instead of celebrating her artistry the world is scheming in speculations: The most popular being, Is GUTS about Joshua Bassett? 

Hate to break it to you, but probably not. In a statement to Rolling Stone, Rodrigo said, “The album is about ‘growing pains’ and figuring out who I am at this point in my life.” She feels as if she “grew 10 years between the ages of 18 and 20,” and hopes that’s reflected throughout the album. Well, Miss Rodrigo, I say you did just that. 

Let’s address the elephant in the room, fans and news sites everywhere are convinced Rodrigo has shaded Bassett yet again on track 5, “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” and to that, I say: Give it a rest! She’s an A-list celebrity — perhaps Miss Rodrigo had another fling she kept on the D.L., or maybe the song is just some made-up story. Now, let’s break down what this album really is about — track by track.

“all american b*tch”

The opening of the album, this song truly sets the tone and touches on the growing pains Rodrigo talked about. While she hasn’t gone off the deep end in any way shape or form, this song touches on the importance reputation has in her life with being in the limelight constantly. All I can say is, this song made me want to fly to LA and give her a big hug.  

“bad idea, right?”

Yes, yes, yes, I know — this is another song that makes a convincing argument about being tied to Bassett, but can’t a girl write a banger about bad choices? Perhaps we should view this song as a rally song that you aren’t your mistakes and that self-awareness is key rather than a confessional from Rodrigo herself. 


The first single released to promote the album, Rodrigo reflected on how writing this song was “an out-of-body experience” with the “melody and lyrics just pouring out of me”. I must say listening to it is an out-of-body experience and so cathartic for all those who have gone through a long-time-coming breakup where they were taken advantage of. Definitely going on my “screaming, crying, throwing up in the car” playlist 


Much like “jealousy, jealousy” from SOUR “lacy” focuses on the envy all girls experience toward other girls when growing up. Unlike SOUR though, there is mindfulness in the lyrics that Rodrigo doesn’t like this side of herself and while trying to take responsibility cannot help but let these emotions get the best of her. 

“ballad of a homeschooled girl “

I think this is an anthem for all of the girls who felt out of place growing up. Perhaps you were a theatre geek or extremely shy, but this song is a rock hit to express the out-of-placeness and frustration you can experience when trying to figure out your place in the world. It’s the song I didn’t know I needed this fall. 

“making the bed “

My personal favorite on the album, this song touches on the struggle of finding real friends and feeling disenchanted with fame. SOUR was Rodrigo’s first taste of the music industry and now two years later with her second album, she has learned the ins and outs — it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and pretty award show dresses.


Personally, I think this song shows the most growth in Rodrigo as a person. The lyric “I know I could’ve stopped it all. God, why didn’t I stop it all?” perhaps refers to all the drama surrounding SOUR and Bassett’s Crisis, but is still about her. I don’t know but I am living for this new self-awareness era she is in and it has me thinking perhaps I still have some growing up to do myself. 

“get him back!”

If there’s one thing our girl can do, it’s write killer lyrics about those who have wronged her and this is no exception. Yet, with the common theme on this album being self-awareness Rodrigo also recognizes that when she wants to get back together with an ex it’s so she can get revenge on him which maybe isn’t the right reason to reunite.

“love is embarrassing”

If anything I’d say this one could be about Bassett, I mean the lyric “damn near started World War III” pretty much sums up the whole Bassett, Carpenter, Rodrigo trial… but it’s anything from a plea to get back together, actually, it’s the opposite. This is the anthem for looking at your ex and thinking, “Yikes, that was a choice” and I have had it on repeat all morning. 

“the grudge”

I know, I know — could this one be about Bassett? NO! It’s possible that “the grudge” is about a friend, mentor, or even another ex we don’t know about who betrayed Rodrigo. This is a close second for my favorite track on the album perfectly articulates how hard it is to heal after any sort of breakup, let alone not hold a grudge even though that will ultimately be what’s best for you.

“pretty isn’t pretty “

It’s giving “brutal”’s older sister with the lyric “God it’s still brutal out here” and to me feels connected to track one, “all-american b*tch.” Rodrigo does anything but sugarcoat the expectations society places on young women and while I know deep down these beauty standards are unrealistic, it’s comforting to know someone who has achieved so much also struggles in similar ways that I do. 

“teenage dream”

Said to be the first song Rodrigo wrote for GUTS, “teenage dream” touches on the doubts involved with growing out of the teen-icon status. I don’t know what she’s thinking because I know myself and her other fans aren’t going anywhere, especially when she releases albums as good as hers. 

This is the album I needed this fall as it feels transitional. I am loving the odes to SOUR, but also living for this more mature outlook on life. It’s clear this album is about her, and doesn’t focus around any guy — especially Mr. Basset. I know GUTS isn’t even a day old but dare I say I’m already anticipating album three… what do you think it’ll be called?

Bryanna is a Her Campus National Writer, she composes articles for the wellness section weekly covering all things health, and sex & relationships. She also occasionally dips her toes into the culture section for more timely breaking news as needed. Bryanna is a current senior at Baldwin Wallace University where she is majoring in music theatre, but much like the famous line from Hamilton "why do you write like you're running out of time" Bryanna's life would be incomplete without working on articles for Her Campus and various other online publications. She is currently working on her debut poetry book "Love Letters I Never Delivered". When not writing or on stage you can find Bryanna making a perfectly curated Spotify playlist, teeing off at the local mini golf course, or curling up with a totally predictable romance novel. To Keep up with her: @bryannacuthill or https://bryannacuthill.com 💌 🪩🥂