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How Olivia Rodrigo’s “driver’s license” Went #1 in Two Days

As the iconic 2000s began, it wasn’t uncommon for Disney Channel stars to begin a sub-par career in pop music –– actually, it was more uncommon if they didn’t have a single or two. Only a few child actors have gone to have successful music careers (Mitchell Musso not being one of them), especially since most of the albums were produced by Disney and used in their own shows. However, Olivia Rodrigo is changing the game.


After having a minor role in Disney’s Bizaardvark, Rodrigo moved on to star in the Disney+ original ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’. This High School Musical spin-off introduced a new set of characters and plotlines set to the familiar soundtrack and set. Although it was meant for the younger generation, college-age students were binging it at home to revisit their childhood nostalgia.


The show followed Rodrigo alongside male lead Joshua Bassett as the modern-day Troy and Gabriella, and although the acting was to be expected of a DCOM, the soundtrack wasn’t half-bad. The newly introduced original songs included “All I Want,” which was written by a sixteen-year-old Rodrigo specifically for the series.


You might be wondering, why does all this matter? Well, two words: driver’s license.


Over a year since the HSMTMTS release, the show’s cast is more relevant than ever, all thanks to Rodrigo’s brand new hit. Through filming and the press tour, rumors were circulating around Bassett and Rodrigo’s budding romance, and the sparks were clear in every BTS and interview clip.


However, due to their three year age gap, fans assumed they were hesitant to announce a relationship. Now seventeen and twenty-years-old, the duo have seemed to call it quits, and Rodrigo is not holding back on her emotional heartbreak. Through the summer, Bassett was seen repeatedly with 21-year-old Disney alum and pop singer Sabrina Carpenter, raising suspicion to Bassett’s relationship status.


On Friday, January 8, Rodrigo released her single with little promotion-- besides sharing on her social media platforms. After hearing the lyrics, fans went absolutely nuts, piecing together key parts to this formally secret story.


The second verse says “And you're probably with that blonde girl / Who always made me doubt / She's so much older than me / She's everything I'm insecure about”. It doesn’t take a private investigator to figure out who she’s referring to – given that Carpenter is both blonde and four years older than Rodrigo – but the references don’t stop there.


The overall message of the song revolves around Rodrigo recently getting her driver’s license, something she shared with Bassett. In a past interview, she had mentioned the first time ever driving was in Bassett’s white car in an In-N-Out parking lot and joked that he would tease her about not having a license. Not only does she make reference to this inside joke they shared, but also explicitly says “white car” within the bridge.


At around 1:07 in the song’s music video, the shot focuses on her upper back as she plays piano, revealing a projection of a hand squeezing her cheeks – a video rumored to be taken by Bassett during their fling.


With countless connections to their relationship and Bassett’s new boo, fans shot the song to the U.S. Top Charts within hours where it quickly reached the #1 spot. Before it reached the top, Rodrigo shared a screenshot of her song below two of Taylor Swift’s recent hits, claiming it was an emotional honor to be next to her longtime idol. Swift, who has been a country-pop sensation since her early teenage years, commenting on the post, saying “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud” along with a few loving emojis.


With both her public drama and fantastic songwriting, Rodrigo has created the perfect modern breakup tune, sending teenage girls all over the world into tears. As it skyrockets on streaming services and as a TikTok sound, she has some competition approaching as Bassett announced his new single just hours after Rodrigo. His song, “Lie Lie Lie” seems to also be under the inspiration of their falling out, and will shed some light on his side of the story.   

Hi! My name is Riley Hetherington and I am a sophomore Communication Studies major/Graphic Design minor at LMU.
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