“Drivers License.” We’ve all heard it. If you haven’t, hop over to Spotify and join the hundred million other listeners crying to Olivia Rodrigo’s breakup ballad. Within a week of its release “it was streamed over 17 million times, the most for a song in a single day ever” according to Spotify.
Our question is why? Or rather… how? How does a 17-year-old girl with just one other song under her belt join the ranks of stars like Taylor Swift and Lorde – who Olivia cites as personal inspirations – in just one week?
The answer is simple. “Drivers License” delivers what we as a collective population didn’t know we needed, and in more ways than one.
When I first heard of people having a “sad playlist” it sounded backwards to me. Why listen to sad music when you’re already sad? Isn’t that a form of self sabotage? Well yes…and no. While throwing yourself further into distress isn’t always the healthiest way to cope, some feelings demand to be felt.
In the case of “Drivers License,” Rodrigo allows us to feel emotions we may not have even realized we had. A slow and cathartic break-up, the song takes us back to a simpler time. Teenhood. When the worst thing that could happen was to have your heart broken.
In the midst of a global pandemic we as young people – Rodrigo included – have lost that simpler time. And we won’t get it back. Sure, “Drivers License” is about a loss of love, but I think for many it’s a way to mourn the collective loss of this formative time in our lives. It’s a way to cry out all of the stress, frustration, grief, and anger… and just escape.
Still, Queen Taylor let us feel all the feels with back to back “folklore” and “evermore”. What has also propelled “Drivers License” to the top is the real life romantic triangle the song is allegedly written about.
According to TikTok, where the tune skyrocketed to fame, Rodrigo’s song is about her “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” co-star and ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett (20) who has since moved on with fellow Disney star Sabrina Carpenter (21).
While it’s all speculation, with lyrics like “And you’re probably with that blonde girl, Who always made me doubt, She’s so much older than me,” it’s pretty obvious that the rumours are true. To top it off, both Bassett and Carpenter have released tracks of their own (“Lie Lie Lie” and “Skin” respectively), each acting as a plausible response to Rodrigo.
It’s pretty juicy. Yet, I never thought I’d know (or care) so much about a 17 year old’s love life. But, here we are. Because Rodrigo – perhaps accidentally on purpose – delivered yet another thing we didn’t know we needed, drama. The pandemic has not only robbed us of a year of our youth, but of the drama of being young! The kind that’s passed in schools, at parties, or between friends, none of which we currently get to enjoy.
If you’re like me, and have already blown through what seems like every title Netflix has to offer, the “Drivers License” scandal is a refreshing form of entertainment. Not because heartbreak is entertaining, but because the song provides a lyrical and real life narrative that is refreshingly normal in a time where life feels anything but.
So, if you inadvertently find yourself curled up in a ball as “Drivers License” plays on an endless loop, or doom scrolling Disney stars’ various social medias, I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. It’s normal. And we’re here for it.