Olivia Rodrigo has topped nearly all the charts since her first-ever single “Drivers License” was released on Friday, January 8th. The Disney star quickly gained popularity from playing “Nini” in High School Musical: The Musical The Series. Rodrigo actually got the chance to write a song for her character in the show, “All I Want,” which went viral on tik tok, priming fans to be excited for this release. It’s only been a week since “Drivers License” dropped, yet it has already broken streaming records on platforms such as Spotify.
In addition to streaming, the song has taken over social media apps like Tik Tok where fans are making artistic videos to match Rodrigo’s cinematic music video, or analyzing rumors about the potential meaning behind Rodrigo’s lyrics, referencing a breakup with her costar Joshua Basset, or even writing their own versions of the song from different perspectives.
Besides the drama, however, Rodrigo’s debut single is also great in technicality. Our generation is relating more and more to sad songs while also having a special place in our hearts for immense nostalgia— “Drivers License” bittersweetly provides both. We can all relate to at least one aspect of the song: learning to drive (youth), re-living lost chances (heartbreak), and watching the one you want find someone else (moving on).
Rodrigo’s skills, and inspiration from her favorite artist Taylor Swift, shone through how she brilliantly offered specific, vulnerable images but grounded them with universal feelings. The song would not hit us as hard if she had just said “you’re probably with that one girl” instead of “that blonde girl / who always made me doubt / she’s so much older than me / she’s everything I’m insecure about.” As soon as we hear those lyrics, we can all picture our own version of said girl based on these core descriptions. Rodrigo creates a movie we see in our heads as we listen, which is what makes the song so poignant.
And the backing soundtrack to that movie is the music itself combined with her smooth voice. There’s both chorus build ups and quiet moments to keep us on that emotional rollercoaster— listening to the song is similar to experiencing a rough heartbreak in and of itself. These purposeful decisions are said to echo that of Lorde and Billie Eilish, so it’s a no brainer that it’s topping the charts. No matter how many times I listen to the song, Rodrigo’s soft voice singing “you said forever, now I drive alone past your street” will never get old.