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The ‘SOUR’ Rockstar’s Feminine Rage: A Review of ‘GUTS’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Known globally for her driver’s license, American singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Rodrigo launched her second studio album on September 8th, 2023. A singer since she was 4 years old, her claim to fame was through the Disney programs Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Series. Nearly two years after the release of her debut album ‘Sour’, twenty-year-old Rodrigo effortlessly tops the charts again as she takes on the brand new title of  ‘pop-rockstar.’

1. “all-american b*tch”: 8.2/10

  • Wow! This song is the perfect introduction to this album. The combination of the lightness of the beginning and the intense feminine rage that progresses throughout is done effortlessly. If someone asked me to describe girlhood in a single song, it would be this one. Rodrigo illustrates the quintessential feeling of being an ‘all-American’ girl through the crescendo of screams that eventually fade into this delicate, gentle reminder that she’s “grateful all the time.” Because she reminds listeners that, as a young woman, you must always remain sexy, kind, grateful, and most importantly, pretty when you cry.
  • Favorite Lyric: “…and I am built like a mother and a total machine”.

2. “bad idea right?”: 9/10

  • First of all, the transition from the previous track to this one was absolute perfection. Immediately, we are thrown into Rodrigo’s conversation with her ex and she knows seeing him is not the smartest choice. She’s aware that this interaction will probably end badly, but after all, she is just a girl! And sometimes all a girl needs is a little bit of reconnection.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…and I’m sure I’ve seen much hotter men, but I really can’t remember when”.

3. “vampire”: 7/10

  • This track felt like something that would be in a 2010 rom-com when the plot has reached the climax and the main character is running through the rain. For that reason, I was attracted to it, but on the other hand, the entire concept of the ‘vampire’ made it harder to enjoy. Perhaps the “bloodsucker, famef*cker” lyrics just weren’t my personal favorite, but I feel like it took away from the beauty of the other lyrics. Nonetheless, this song encapsulates the naivety—which has now morphed into unprecedented anger— of a young girl who has been taken advantage of by an older, less successful, man. Listeners can hear this transform as the song begins with a simple, easy piano melody and develops into the heavy climax of the final bridge.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…how’s the castle built off people you pretend to care about?”

4. “lacy”: 9/10

  • I fell in love with this song at first listen; the melody is so heavenly and fragile, with Rodrigo’s gorgeous voice echoing all throughout the track. The lyricism of this one stuck out to me, maybe because it was such a stark difference from the previous track, but this song gave me a very specific ‘forbidden love/hate’ feeling. In this track, Rodrigo describes a relationship where she’s battling those devilish jealousies and the angelic comparison of this unnamed girl. Similar to “jealousy, jealousy”, a track from her last album, “Sour”, this song embraces the issue of comparison, but we now see a softer, more tender side to this feeling of envy.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…I feel your compliments like bullets on skin”.

5. “ballad of a homeschooled girl”: 8.4/10

  • A big switch from the last track as we begin with a pop-rock tune and Rodrigo’s angsty lyrics about how her skin doesn’t “fit right over [her] bones.” In this track, she embraces the pop punk-ness of her teenage years, acknowledging that she’s been consistently screwing up, as all twenty-something teenage girls do. We hear her begin to spiral as she realizes everything she’s done wrong: broken a glass, fell down, told someone else’s secrets…pretty typical actions of a silly, little teenager.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…searching how to start a conversation on a website (how to flirt)”.

6. “making the bed”: 7.9/10

  • In this track, we again shift from the rock vibe to this melancholic ballad where she describes herself as the villain of her story. She reflects on the choices that led her to this point, and she realizes that she is the one to blame. Rodrigo struggles with holding her gratitude for fame and her discontent with the state of her life simultaneously. 
  • Favorite Lyric:“…another perfect moment that doesn’t feel like mine”.

7. “logical”: 8.3/10

  • This song seems to be one of the more popular tracks, and I completely understand why that would be. Rodrigo explains the natural ‘logic’ of love and how easy it is to become blind to the gaslighting and manipulation of your lover. Throughout the song, we hear how she initially places blame on her lover, but then she reflects on her choices and questions why she didn’t fix the relationship herself. She admits to neglecting her needs because her lover could make her believe even the most obvious lies, like how “two plus two equals five.”
  • Favorite Lyric:“…I fell for you like water falls from the February sky, but now the current’s stronger and I couldn’t get out if I tried”. 

8. “get him back!”: 9.2/10

  • This one is definitely in my top three ranking! It begins as Rodrigo remembers how she met her ex, and in the most relatable way possible, how he definitely was not six foot two. She eventually confesses to missing him, as is expected because again, she’s just a girl! But we develop from these feelings of reminiscence to the pop-punk realm where Rodrigo tends to stay. Now, all she wants is revenge. We hear that “getting him back” not only describes how she wants him to be back with her, but she wants to ruin his life just like he did hers.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…yeah, I pour my little heart out, but as I’m hitting send, I picture all the faces of my disappointed friends”.

9. “love is embarrassing”: 8/10

  • Still on the topic of past relationships, Rodrigo encounters the humiliation that encompasses unrequited love. The lyrics depict the moment you sit down and reflect on all the cringey things that you actually did because you were in love. As she describes the lows of being with someone who obviously did not value her in the same way, she reminds herself, and listeners, that even the best of us can fall for “some weird second-string loser who’s not worth mentioning.”
  • Favorite Lyric:“I’m planning out my wedding with some guy I’m never marrying”.

10. “the grudge”: 7.6/10

  • Starting out with a slow piano in the background, it sets the tone as she sings about her traumatic relationship that damaged her in ways that she’ll never forget. The piano begins to build higher, only to fall again, as she delves through the past and how she still holds these feelings. As we approach the climax of the song, Rodrigo’s echoing vocals are nothing less than celestial.
  • This song is rumored to be about Rodrigo’s alleged feud with Taylor Swift, but I strongly believe that is incorrect. For a bit of backstory, after Rodrigo released her hit single “Deja Vu”—and eventually credited Taylor Swift as a co-writer because the song was inspired by Swift’s “Cruel Summer”— fans began to hear similarities between their work. Despite it all, Rodrigo recently assessed the situation and reminded fans that “[s]ongs are just songs at the end of the day,” in an interview with Sirius XM Hits 1.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…and I doubt you ever think about the damage that you did, but I hold onto every detail like my life depends on it”.

11. “pretty isn’t pretty”: 9/10

  • Immediately I loved the musical aspect of this song. There’s just something about that distinctive pop beat that makes me listen to it on repeat! This track illustrates how even the world famous rockstar Olivia Rodrigo falls victim to the constantly changing trends and societal standards. These expectations that Rodrigo feels pressured to succumb to seem inescapable, as she even sees her ‘imperfections’ in the mirror.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…it’s in my phone, it’s in my head, it’s in the boys I bring to bed”

12. “teenage dream”: 8.8/10

  • This concluding track reflects on Rodrigo’s fear of disappointing her fans and addresses the conflict she faces within her fame. She worries that her ‘teenage’ mindset won’t last forever as she gives listeners an intimate view of how she’s grown up since her debut album, “SOUR.” We, as listeners, hear how her state of mind has developed since then, and understand that in order to continue growing, we must eventually say goodbye to being a teenage girl.
  • Favorite Lyric:“…when am I gonna stop being wise beyond my years and just start being wise?”

OVERALL: 8.4/10

  • As Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album, this lived up to the hype. This album gives off that nostalgic feeling while doubling as a fresh, new sound for her generation. Deemed an “instant classic” by Rolling Stone,“GUTS”is the perfect album to narrate the trials and tribulations of modern-day girlhood. Many critics of Rodrigo assumed that this album would make or break her career, but it is obvious that her time in the spotlight is nowhere near finished.
Maddie Spicer

CU Boulder '27

Maddie Spicer is a staff writer at the Her Campus Chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As she joined in August 2023, her duties include researching and writing articles and features to be published. At the University of Colorado Boulder, she is a freshman majoring in Journalism with plans to minor in Graphic Design. She initiated her writing career in high school as a team writer for her school newspaper, The Yahoo!. In the two years she wrote for the paper, Maddie advanced from an entry-level writer to the Assistant Editor and public relations manager. In 2022, she was an attendant at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC) hosted at George Mason University. During this week-long program, she met students, faculty, and speakers from all over the United States, and Maddie recognized her fondness for journalism. Outside of school, Maddie is a relentless shopper and a self-titled fashion critic. She has established harmony between her passion for fashion and journalism through her articles: "Style, Spice, and Everything Nice." Maddie believes Taylor Swift and Megan Thee Stallion are her best friends and always has them on repeat. As an avid concert-goer, she devotes most of her finances to purchasing tickets of some variety. When Maddie is nowhere to be found, she is hanging out with her friends, eating chocolate chips, watching BoJack Horseman, or a strange yet typical combination of all three.