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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

I have always been a music fan. Whether it’s some reggaeton with Bad Bunny and Karol G, indie rock like The Smiths or The Strokes, or even classical music like Beethoven and Micheal Giachinno, I listen to everything. Well… almost everything. 

Like many people, I listen to music as a background to study, to workout, but above all, to connect with. It’s rare to find an artist or an album that understands how you feel, much less have a discography that pulls at your heartstrings. Though rare, it is not impossible. To me, only a few artists have managed to pull me into tears or bring back memories I never would have remembered. Dayglow’s Can I Call You Tonight?”, Bryson Tiller’s Exchange to The Marias entire album, CINEMA. Yet, when I heard that Olivia Rodrigo would be releasing an album on September 8th, I never expected this album to be one that I considered, “perfect”.

Like any girl in the world, my heart has been broken and shattered multiple times. Break-ups and the rollercoaster ride healing involves are one of the hardest things one can ever go through. Some days you wake-up and you feel like you finally let go of that one happy memory that kept you thinking, what if he changes? Then you listen to that one song you both heard during that one amazing night, and BOOM. Back to square one. Yet again. Even without heartbreaks, on normal days where everything is at peace for once, us girls feel extraordinary pressure to be beautiful, to be smart, to be enough. Yet, it seems that no matter how much we try, this game seems unbeatable. These feelings of missing, loving, hating, and crying are perfectly encapsulated by Rodrigo’s sophomore album, GUTS

Rodrigo opens the album with “all-american bitch,” a song that encompasses the female rage we all share. Each day society tells us to be pretty, thin, and smart. Yet, such requirements come with caveats. Be pretty, but not too pretty or else you tempt men. Be thin, but not too thin or else you are unhealthy. Be smart, but not too smart or else you become rude. These expectations are even higher for women of color. Yet we must remain “sexy and kind”, aspiring to be “grateful”, a cynical attitude represented by Rodrigo’s constant switch between screams and light vocals. 

As the album continues, we follow up with “bad idea right?” and “vampire.” Both of these songs had been released as singles before the full release of GUTS. Perfectly selected, both singles represent the two motifs most present across the album: yearning and pain. While “bad idea right?” presents the confusion of being stuck on an ex, knowing that going back will just turn into a regret, “vampire” asserts this pain by looking back into the relationship as full of manipulation. Similar to how vampires seduce their victims, Rodrigo compares this man to one who “bled her dry”. 

These feelings of losing oneself to love another person continue in “logical” and “the grudge”, where Rodrigo asks this person if “they deserved it all”. Somehow, someone managed to phrase heartbreak, and beautifully at that. With lyrics such as “I’d put myself through hell for you” capturing the pain of being lied to, a recurring theme across Rodrigo’s discography.

Other tracks I love are “love is embarrassing” and “get him back!”, that play on the idea of regret and revenge. Both upbeat and jumpy, these songs allow for GUTS to be a diverse album, a roller coaster of emotions, as the listener switches between melancholic ballads to rock-heavy songs that mirror our ever-changing emotional state. 

As we reach the end of the album, Rodrigo ends with “pretty isn’t pretty” and “teenage dream”. Similar to “all-american bitch”, these songs speak on the societal pressure women face daily. One can “try every lipstick in every shade” and still fail to see the beauty within ourselves. With this ending note, I believe Rodrigo wants to remind us how men, partners, society, and other external factors do not dictate how we should view ourselves. 

This is easier said than done, but we mustn’t forget that we are not alone. All of us go through heartbreak, and we all make it through. We all feel insecure, but that never means we aren’t enough. After all, we now have a new album to obsess and learn all lyrics to. 

GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo: 5/5 stars

mar is a double major in international studies & world languages and culture at usf. she hopes to go to law school after graduating to pursue international human rights law. she can be found daydreaming about love, making a million playlists on spotify, or crocheting the night away. legend says she dilly-dallies around the campus...