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‘GUTS’ Review: Why Olivia Rodrigo’s New Album Is Relevant To Young Women

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

Olivia Rodrigo rose to fame quickly in 2021 when she released her debut album SOUR. At the time, I was 17 and going through what felt like the worst breakup of my life. This made SOUR the perfect album for me to listen to, as most of the album was written about a rough breakup that Rodrigo had been through. It was the perfect breakup album for a 17 year old girl, and songs like “Favorite Crime” and “Driver’s License” remain my favorites today. Now, 2 ½ years later, she released GUTS on Sept. 8, 2023. The same way that SOUR was the perfect album for little heartbroken 17-year-old me, GUTS speaks to nearly 20-year-old me. It seems like everything I feel as I continue to grow and mature in our society, Rodrigo feels and puts into words that I feel apply to the vast majority of young women growing up today. Song by song, I’m going to go through the album and discuss why this album is the perfect album for young women today. 

*I want to note that there are technically 13 songs on the album, not 12, but “obsessed” is a song I can’t speak about because Rodrigo released this track only on vinyl and I only have access to the album via streaming services. I do think it’s a really cool thing she did for people who bought the vinyl. 

Track 1: “all american b*tch”

This song for me is the perfect song to rage about how hard it is to be a woman in this society. Rodrigo writes about the constant pressure to be the “ideal” American woman and how these standards contradict themselves. The line “I’m pretty when I cry” stuck out to me the most because there is such an emphasis on looking perfect no matter what, even in situations such as crying when it would be perfectly acceptable to not look perfect. It makes me feel seen as a young woman who is used to trying to conform to society’s standards gaining awareness of what I actively participate in. 

Track 2: “bad idea right?”

This was the second single Rodrigo released from this album and it was on instant repeat for me. While so much of this album has such a deeper meaning, this song is very straightforward and represents the recklessness that comes with being this age. Pretty much everyone can identify with doing things we know we shouldn’t do, but doing them anyway because it can be fun.(I specifically relate to the actions in this song, but who isn’t guilty of hooking up with their ex?) It’s a very fun song that relates to the main theme of the album in a way that is lighthearted. 

Track 3: “vampire” 

In this song, Rodrigo returns to a more serious side of the album. This song is about being used by someone, a “vampire” if you will, someone who pretended to love her solely to get fame. I noticed growth in this song from breakup songs previously written by Rodrigo. While in SOUR several songs tried to make sense of and excuse bad behavior against her in the name of love, in this song she places blame entirely on the person who hurt her. Some of my favorite lines were, “You called them crazy, God, I hate the way I called them crazy too” and, “’cause girls your age know better.” I think most people our age can identify with being with a partner who calls their exes crazy and you agree because you don’t know better, then when you’re outside of that situation, you can see how their past partners were right. There’s also a significant issue in our society with older men dating younger, more innocent women, so a lot of her music is relatable in this sense. 

Track 4: “lacy”

This track is similar to “Jealousy, Jealousy” on SOUR when it comes to the way that women are often pitted against each other. Rodrigo writes how she is obsessed with this character “Lacy,” who represents the stereotypical perfect looking woman. Rodrigo simultaneously loves “Lacy” and hates her at the same time; she admires her beauty but despises her because she isn’t as beautiful as “Lacy.” My favorite line in this song is,“I despise my rotten mind and how much it worships you.” This song is entirely relatable as a 19-year-old woman who grew up in the age of social media. I got used to both admiring beautiful women and hating them for the things they have that I don’t.

Track 5: “ballad of a homeschooled girl”

I don’t take this track literally because I wasn’t homeschooled, but I can certainly relate to the awkwardness of being a teenage girl. I’ve felt hyper aware in social situations before, certain that everyone is talking about me or laughing at me as Rodrigo describes in the line “I’m on the outside of the greatest inside joke.” This song for me represents being socially awkward and uncomfortable in your own skin because you aren’t quite confident in who you are yet.

Track 6: “making the bed”

In this track Rodrigo talks about taking responsibility for your actions and the consequences of them. The title is an interpolation of the saying “you made your bed now lie in it,” which means you caused something and now you have to deal with the consequences of your actions. This song is relatable to me in the sense that it is super easy to stand outside of your life and victimize yourself, but it takes great maturity to realize that some things and situations are consequences of your own actions. This is another way Rodrigo’s sound and message has changed as she has, which makes it feel like she’s maturing at the same time as me and keeps her music relatable to my life.

Track 7: “logical”

“logical” is another song about heartbreak that emphasizes the way that sometimes we forgo basic logic when we’re in love. You know things logically but feel a different way. She talks about questioning basic concepts such as 2+2, which is something very straightforward. Rodrigo hints at the way some romantic partners manipulate those involved with them into doubting their own intuition, which is something I can relate to as a young woman who’s had to learn to stand up for herself in relationships.

Track 8: “get him back!”

This song reminds me of track 2 on this album. It’s a more fun and upbeat song with a lighter relatable theme. One of my favorite songs on the album, “get him back!” is about being in love with someone at the same time that you hate them. There’s a double meaning to the title, she wants to earn back his love at the same time that she wants to get revenge on him for treating her badly. It’s a really fun song for me to listen to.

Track 9: “love is embarrassing”

This track is also really relatable, I feel like everyone has dated someone and put their all into it only to realize when it’s over that they were not worth any time and effort you put into them. I know I’ve done this several times because I always seem to date losers. In general though, I feel like knowing your worth is something that comes with age, so I think most people can relate to accepting less than what you deserve and feeling embarrassed about it later.

Track 10: “the grudge”

I think that this has to be my favorite song on the album both meaning wise and lyrically. This song is about not knowing how to get over someone or how to forgive them for the things they’ve done or the way that things ended. Rodrigo writes “My undying love I hold it like a grudge” to emphasize how much she still feels for this person, so much that she resents this fact. Another favorite line of mine is “we both drew blood, but man, those cuts were never equal,” because while two people can hurt each other in a relationship there is usually one person who hurts the other more, and I relate to this line so deeply. I can identify with the idea of holding on to a love for someone because you don’t know anything else, you only know how to love them and not how to forgive them or move on. 

Track 11: “pretty isn’t pretty” 

This is another song about how being a woman is super hard physically and can feel like a competition. She knows she’s attractive but it isn’t enough. Being a woman is an endless effort to keep proving that you’re something more, but there is no end, no “pretty enough.” Rodrigo writes  “You can win the battle, but you’ll never win the war.” Girls especially spend a majority of their teen years trying to conform to ever changing beauty standards and then eventually (hopefully) realize it will never be enough. As someone who recently realized this fact, this song is cathartic to relate to.

Track 12: “teenage dream”

This song has a special place in my heart as I turn 20 in a few weeks. She writes about how there is such an emphasis in our society with being this young, living a “teenage dream,” that it actually scares those of us who are currently teens because we fear that we won’t ever be more than who we are now. “Will I spend the rest of my years wishing I could go back?” is a line that summarizes exactly how I feel about turning 20, because I’m someone who cries on her birthday every year about being older. Exiting my teen years is something that shouldn’t feel this intense to me but does because of the emphasis our society puts on being a teenager. I feel as if I’m leaving the prime of my life when in reality our teen years are just a fraction of them.

Hi! My name is Jasmine Rosario and I am a pre-law Sociology major with minors in political science and philosophy. I'm passionate about mental health, politics, and the way that people interact with one another. I love reading, writing, and talking to people about literally anything.