Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album is sweet, not sour
By Mead Gill, Copy & Online Editor
Flooding every nook and cranny of social media, the cultural wave that is Olivia Rodrigo only continues to grow with her debut album “SOUR” dropping just weeks ago. Upon its release, the album skyrocketed to the top of the US Spotify Charts, confirming Rodrigo’s position as one of the most promising up-and-coming songwriters of the next few years.
With all the hype surrounding “SOUR,” many are quick to label her as another Disney star attempting to force a lackluster career in music. Fortunately, this absolute leap to conclusions is easily disproved, because Rodrigo bares the deepest of emotions an eighteen-year-old can have in her songwriting. And lucky for her, there are millions of teenagers around the world who resonate with her lyrics on a borderline unhealthy level.
The opening track “brutal” is commanded by a harsh electric guitar riff, calling back to the 2000s pop punk era. Rodrigo’s lyrics are a whirlpool of angsty teen syndrome, making it the perfect addition to the playlist of anyone who is “not like the other girls.”
The same energy is found on the single “good 4 you” where Rodrigo angrily rants about her ex’s attitude after their breakup. No matter what anyone says about the track being generic or a Paramore rip-off, it is a banger- end of discussion.
Rodrigo’s songwriting skills are plastered all across “deja vu,” a single featuring sparkly verses and an anthemic hook that gets instantly ingrained in one’s brain. The same goes for the track “favorite crime,” which is slathered with passionate vocal layering in the second leg. It is one of the few songs on the record with a clear-cut analogy throughout, instead of surface level lyricism.
It is no secret that Rodrigo draws much of her inspiration from Taylor Swift, and this is clearly evident listening to the album in its entirety. But there are moments where the inspiration goes from wading pool to colossal tidal wave. Ballads like “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” “enough for you,” and “happier” are practically drowning in Swift and Lorde, making it difficult to not wonder if these songs could have been better executed by the artists they were inspired from.
What saves many of these tracks from being complete flops are Rodrigo’s downright gorgeous vocal performances. Just by listening to the magnetic bridge of “drivers license” or the headbanging chorus of “jealousy, jealousy,” one can almost visualize her facial expressions just through vocal inflections. Her voice is unapologetically emotive, and easily matches the pain she is experiencing.
Walking away from “SOUR,” it is clear that Rodrigo is full to the brim with talent and potential. Being only 18 years old leaves an entire musical career ahead of her, during which she can push her boundaries further and eventually find a songwriting style that feels the most unique to her. As Rodrigo matures as a musician and person, her die-hard fan base will do so alongside her.