When I can’t sleep, I watch an upsetting amount of TikToks. This includes crafting personal for your pages for my closest friends by texting them five to 10 TikToks each night, and a morning of conversations with them about said content. But the night "driver’s license" came out, I scrolled through the same song over and over again for an hour: "driver’s license" by Olivia Rodrigo. Upon extensive research after a morning of “That’s been all over my TikTok too!” texts, I’ve done the work, so you don’t have to. So, buckle up and get ready for a drive through the suburbs, because the drama runs deep with this viral song.
Olivia Rodrigo is the female lead in the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. She stars alongside Joshua Bassett—the show’s male lead—and they play each other’s love interests. While the two have never publicly announced their real-life relationship, it’s largely speculated that their romance has ventured into reality. However, Bassett began to spend an increasing amount of time with Sabrina Carpenter, a fellow Disney star, causing new speculation to brew regarding a split between Rodrigo and Bassett. This only seems to be reinforced by Olivia’s Aug. 16 Instagram post of her and Iris Apatow wearing “Dump Him” shirts—lining up with the same time Bassett began spending more time with Carpenter.
Now, all of this remains loose speculation at best, but the lyrics of "driver’s license" only added fire to die-hard fan’s flames of rumors. The concept of the song itself seemed to imply that Joshua was the subject of the song because of prior statements by the pair that he was the one who taught Olivia to drive. In an even more specific nod, Olivia sings, “You’re probably with that blonde girl… She’s so much older than me.” Sabrina Carpenter—a blonde, 21-year-old—is four years older than Olivia, lining up with the song’s lyrics perfectly. In the chorus of the song, Olivia belts, “Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me.” This is thought to reference Joshua Bassett’s summer release "Anyone Else" for several reasons. In past statements, Joshua revealed the song to be about “hopelessly falling in love with a close friend… Who was in a relationship?” Because he wrote the song during the season one filming of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the subject of the song could be Olivia and her relationship with co-star Ethan Wacker. Because of "Anyone Else’s" chorus—“I am done pretending I want anyone else"—and Joshua’s presumed new relationship with Sabrina Carpenter, the source of the pain behind that "driver’s license" lyric becomes abundantly evident.
The drama does not stop there. On Thursday, Joshua Bassett released a new single called "Lie, Lie, Lie." The lyrics alone lend themselves as a response to Olivia’s claims: “So you’re telling them it’s all my fault, you’re the victim this time … You’ve been lying to yourself.” Not only that, but the cover of the single is Bassett laying atop the hood of his car, and the car imagery in the accompanying music video is very similar to that of the "driver’s license" music video.
My disclaimer should be that I have never once watched High School Musical: The Musical: The Series once. I’ve never listened to any of the actors’ solo music besides a single Christmas Special song, and I only learned Olivia Rodrigo’s name the day "driver’s license" came out. However, this should serve as a testament to the power of TikTok’s algorithm. While many fans would swear on their lives that this drama is true, and equally adamant population believes it all to be a masterful publicity stunt. Olivia and Joshua have both received incredible surges in Spotify streams and more, all while Olivia is just starting her solo music career and the delayed season two premiere of HSMTMTS is rapidly approaching. Whether or not every ounce of the drama revolving around these Disney stars is true, it’s given both of them an immediate and powerful boost in visibility and noteworthy. Fans will surely be watching each of their content with an eye out for Easter eggs from now on.