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All of the Driving References in ‘Sour’ by Olivia Rodrigo

Written by Susan Verdes.

Olivia Rodrigo’s Drivers License joins the Billions Club on Spotify! Her debut single received over 1 billion streams on the platform, but let’s be honest who didn’t see that coming? It’s her defining song; the tale of a young girl getting her drivers license, which Olivia turns into a powerful symbol of her relationships & music career. Here’s a list of all the not-so-subtle driving references Olivia drops in the other tracks on Sour, starting with the quintessential track.

Drivers license

“I got my drivers license last week

Just like we always talked about

‘Cause you were so excited for me

To finally drive up to your house.”

In a list quoting driving lyrics from Olivia Rodrigo, we just had to include Drivers License. This is the song that started it all, right from its opening line. Olivia’s boyfriend taught her to drive, and they dreamed of being able to go places together. Unfortunately, by the time she got her license, the couple split up. Now it’s a heartbreaking reminder that he’s no longer in her life, and that moment every teenager cheers for is bitter-sweet because she’s still in love with him.

Deja vu

“Car rides to Malibu

Strawberry ice cream, one spoon for two.

And tradin’ jackets

Laughin’ ‘bout how small it looks on you.”

The opening lyrics of Deja Vu immediately take us back to Drivers License. Although this song is the fifth track on Sour, is it her second single. It picks up where her first song left off, while still branching into its own narrative. The first verse presents minute details of her past relationship, of course with a road trip reference. She follows up this memory with a comparison of her ex’s new relationship, adding further details to the ongoing story about him leaving her.

Good 4 u

“Well, good for you

I guess you’re gettin’ everything you want

You bought a new car and your career’s really takin’ off

It’s like we never even happened.”

In Drivers License and Deja Vu, Olivia painfully reminisces on all the moments of their relationship that they spent driving together. But in Good 4 U, Olivia claims that her ex-boyfriend has a new sense of status and superiority, which comes off as him leaving her behind. The symbol of the new car represents the erasure of their past together, since much of it was spent in his old car. The song is a sarcastic comment on her ex’s success, as he moves onto ostensibly better things/people.


“Cause I love people I don’t like

And I hate every song I write

And I’m not cool, and I’m not smart

And I can’t even parallel park.”

In this first track, Olivia dispels any ideas her audience might have about her being perfect or a musical genius. Instead, she wants to convey an honest and intimate relationship with her fans, by openly admitting her mistakes and flaws. Since the release of Drivers License, Olivia has been placed on a pedestal, and coincidentally her driving skills were made to be better than they are. In brutal she confesses she isn’t a great driver, indicating she isn’t the person everyone believes her to be after the release of Drivers License.

Jealousy, jealousy

“In your daddy’s nice car, yeah, you’re livin’ the life

Got a pretty face, a pretty boyfriend too

I wanna be you so bad and I don’t even know you

All I see is what I should be.”

Jealousy, Jealousy is about the pressure Olivia feels to fit into her image that her audience and the internet has established for her. She feels as if she needs a fancy car, or a bustling social circle and is disappointing to her fans when she lives an ordinary life. It’s also a commentary on social media and the pressures everyone faces to be “perfect” online. When it perpetuates a cycle of feeling not enough and feeling jealous of others.

Favourite Crime

“And now, every time a siren sounds

I wonder if you’re around

‘Cause you know I would do it all again.”

With the siren, Olivia indirectly references a police car and/or ambulance. This song is about one person who obsessively pines after another, without any regard for consequence or morality. While the other person takes advantage of their admirer and pushes them to get what they want. The siren represents a police chase and the thrill of hiding, which is similar to the thrill of being reckless and in love. Despite everything, Olivia believes that feeling is worth it and would re-do their relationship again if she had a chance.

Sour is mostly the story of a relationship that’s been twisted and sullied by heartbreak, insecurity and rejection. The symbol of driving is just one aspect of Olivia’s work, and it’s woven between songs, complimenting the overall arching theme of the track. While driving originally was a reminder of her past relationship, it has now become a symbol for her success as an artist. Olivia took a painful story and created a ballad that resonated with her audience, or even anyone who’s ever shared a romantic moment in a car.

Saachi Bami

McMaster '23

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