20 year old pop star, Olivia Rodrigo, is taking the music industry by storm. While everyone seems hooked on her music, there’s something special about being a teen girl during the surge of her fame.
The Early Days
While her music is what is turning her into a household name, many of us were actually introduced to Olivia Rodrigo far before her debut album. In both her 2015 starring role in the American Girl Doll movie, Grace Stirs Up Success, and her 2016 role in Disney Channel’s Bizaardvark, Rodrigo entered the entertainment scene as it became an integral part of my life. I was exploring the media scene, and movies and TV became a social aspect of my life. As I was making friends in middle school English class, Olivia was befriending her costar, Madison Hu on the set of Bizaardvark– someone she is still friends with to this day! While I wasn’t fully invested in Rodrigo’s life from Bizaardvark, exiting the Disney Channel era of my life (kind of…), High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (or HSMTMTS) had me OBSESSED. I mean, if you weren’t shipping Ricky and Nini in 2019… where were you? I was listening to All I Want on my way home from school and loved staying updated on the lives of the cast.
The SOUR Takeover
On January 8th, 2021, Miss Rodrigo dropped drivers license, a song I think just about everyone who turned the radio on that year has heard. I was about to turn 16, began learning how to drive, and here comes this song whose title stamped it as an anthem for my year. I played this song until I hated it (which was impossible) and patiently awaited Olivia Rodrigo’s album drop. With her other single drops, Rodrigo proved she was able to give us the heartbreak, the jealousy, and the anger of a teenage relationship. With only three singles out, she had all my friends and me wrapped around her finger. We stayed up to hear her debut album the minute it dropped, quickly ranking each song as we listened. Rodrigo wasn’t afraid to embrace the feelings we tried to minimize in our own lives. She unashamedly focused on the embarrassing and “brutal” aspects of being a teen.
Rodrigo’s album came along with its own drama. With speculations around who her songs were about, Rodrigo’s personal life and other celebrities’ personal lives were all the talk. People gossiped that Sabrina Carpenter and Joshua Bassett were the subjects of some of her songs, resulting in people assuming their new releases were about Rodrigo. Their art turned into a big loop of gossip, mimicking an inevitable aspect of a high school or college relationship.
Rodrigo’s sophomore album, GUTS, was another demonstration of her ability to lyricize feelings and experiences. Being around the same age as Rodrigo allows her music to resonate more intensely. It’s one thing to find a relatable old Taylor Swift or Katy Perry song depicting their late teen experiences, but it is that much more powerful to relate to new songs as they are being released. Being an iconic and successful role model for so many makes Rodrigo’s authenticity, raw emotion, and honest storytelling a lifeline for our generation. Knowing that even a star like Rodrigo struggles with the killer of comparison (lacy) or social anxieties (ballad of a homeschooled girl) makes these feelings more validated. Knowing I’m not alone in these situations makes the inevitable difficulties of growing up that much easier.
All in all, I feel Olivia Rodrigo’s music has connected and comforted so many. She has proved the power of vulnerability in music and art on a large scale.