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Album Review: Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR

Miley, Selena, Demi, Hilary- Disney Channel has produced no shortage of mega-talented musicians. The same starpower is evident in 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo, who most notably starred in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. On May 21, Rodrigo showcased her incredible talent with the drop of her debut album, SOUR

A rise to stardom unlike any other, Olivia rocketed up the charts with her song “driver’s license.” The breakup anthem set multiple records in its first week of release, garnering appreciation from none other than the queen of heartbreak herself; Taylor Swift, and it’s not even the best song on the album.

good 4 u,” the third single from SOUR that dropped on May 14, is a breakup song of a different breed. With powerful vocals and explosive instrumentals, the pop-track has drawn comparisons to Paramore. The same fast-paced, explosive vibe continues in the angsty “brutal,” which every young person can relate to (“god, it’s brutal out here,” she sings). 

Echoes of Taylor Swift, who co-wrote on the album, are evident throughout- the chanty bridge in “deja vu” and that of Swift’s “Cruel Summer” as well as the melody in “New Year’s Day” and SOUR’s “1 step forward, 2 steps back.” Another similarity lies in the storytelling on the album- it tells a story of the problems that teenagers and young adults face today. From processing a breakup to social media and identity and sexuality. 

“jealousy, jealousy” depicts what it’s like to exist in the age of social media; “all your friends are so cool, you go out every night / 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 / happier, prettier, jealousy, jealousy.” With a catchy bass line and funky feel, the song is one of my favorites. 

The ballads and softer, sadder songs are all gorgeous and put Rodrigo’s lyrical mastery on display. “enough for you” is a perfect example of this- a moving song in which you can hear the emotion in Rodrigo’s voice when she sings about doing the most to impress someone who couldn’t care less; “don’t you think I loved you too much to be used and discarded? /  don’t you think I loved you too much to think I deserved nothing?” “happier” is bittersweet as her soaring vocals and beautiful runs tell the story of watching an ex you’re not over in a new relationship (“I hope you’re happy / but don’t be happier”). A letter to old friends, presumably part of the LGBTQ+ community, comes in the form of “hope ur ok.” This is one of my top five from SOUR and a gorgeous, optimistic conclusion to the album and possibly the most tear-inducing; “I hope you know how proud I am that you were created / with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred / but, God, I hope that you’re happier today / ‘cause I love you / and I hope that you’re okay.”

Overall, SOUR is the perfect debut. Breaking the mold of having to either cater to a Disney channel audience or prove yourself as mature, it appeals to a wide audience. Olivia Rodrigo has already reached an incredible level of fame for a new artist, performing on SNL and the 2021 BRIT Awards, and I have no doubt that she will only continue to reach new heights.

Hi! I'm an editorial intern at Her Campus and Senior Editor at HC Pace! I can recite Gilmore Girls lines from memory and you can find me wherever books, dogs, or concerts are.
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