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Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘GUTS’ and the Teenage Experience

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

Oliva Rodrgio’s hit sophomore album “GUTS” dropped this month featuring singles such as “bad idea right?” and “vampire” which the general population of teen girls has been able to find relatable. Most people have (unfortunately) had some kind of manipulative past ex that they can’t seem to get fully over. As someone who has never had that experience … or a romantic relationship of any kind… Rodrigo’s other songs still manage to appeal to the niche life experiences of the average teen girl. From feeling out of place in “ballad of a homeschooled girl” to the insecurities in “pretty isn’t pretty”, Rodrigo is capable of touching on feelings experienced by all girls whether or not they’ve been in a toxic romantic relationship. As she goes through each track in the album, it’s almost like a comfortable goodbye to the teenage girl and an anxious hello to the young adult we are all becoming. 

One track on the album that truly embodies these themes of growing pains is the final track “teenage dream”. With evident parallels to “brutal” featured on Rodrigo’s debut album “SOUR”, “teenage dream” reflects on the fears and anxieties associated with growing up. In fact, in “brutal” Rodrigo directly writes “Where’s my f*cking teenage dream?” (brutal 11). The opening verse features several existential questions surrounding the fear of losing youth and questioning at what point do the things that make Rodrigo great become standard for her age. She writes “When am I gonna stop being wise beyond my years and just start being wise?” and “When am I gonna stop being great for my age and just start being good?” (Teenage Dream 1 – 3). As an overachiever myself, these lines really touch on that feeling of wondering when your time is going to be up as something amazing. The chorus continues this fear as Rodrigo sings about having her whole life ahead of her and fearing that the public has already seen the best that she can do. 

It’s so incredibly common that girls feel they have an expiry date. This topic is also analyzed in Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary “Miss Americana” as Taylor talks about how women in the music industry have needed to reinvent themselves multiple times, over and over, just to stay relevant. There is this added pressure of needing to be something new yet comfortable to the public. While this is more evidently experienced by famous women, internally every teen girl has this fear of growing up and suddenly being average along with the added fear of growing up and losing all the fun parts of life. As a teenager, we’re able to go out and party, have fun with friends, and not stress so much about life. But at what point does that stop? When do we need to start worrying about things? While everyone keeps saying that life gets better, Rodrigo ends the song questioning what if things don’t get better? She confirms these anxieties that yes, it might feel like we are running out of time, like we have hit our peak, and that it’s okay to be anxious about the future but it’s coming and eventually, it will all be okay. 

Like many girls my age, I think once “vampire” and “bad idea right?” came out I felt left out. Like I was missing a part of the teenage experience. Everyone kept talking about how relatable the songs were and I just felt like they weren’t made for me. But after the album’s release, Rodrigo wrote a song for every girl. She wrote songs that confirmed our fears, hopes, risks, and mistakes that will be faced as our teenage years come to a close. In the year of girlhood, with Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, “GUTS” is the perfect album to celebrate every single high and low through the eyes of young girls everywhere.

Victoria is a third-year Bachelor of Arts student at Queen's University studying English. She is also a lover of music, romcoms, Formula 1, and is always open to book recs!