Rising Stars: Olivia Rodrigo

Rising Stars: Olivia Rodrigo

Grace Lorenzo, Staff Writer

Hello everyone! I am Grace Lorenzo, and welcome to my new column here on the Patriot Press: Rising Stars. Every other week, I will be releasing articles about musical figures who are climbing their way up the charts and to fame. I’m so excited to be sharing these pieces with you, as I love learning about new artists and being an audience member to their new albums and songs!

Now that my introduction is out of the way, I have decided to write my first article about the one and only Olivia Rodrigo. I’m sure each and every one of you has at least heard of this rising star! Her dedication and musicality never fails to impress me, and she continues to prove herself as a major star of our future. 

Olivia is best known for her co-starring role of Gabriella, alongside Joshua Bassett, playing Troy, on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” which aired in 2019. Rodrigo has experienced life as both an actress and singer on this Disney+ TV show, and even wrote an original song for the series, called “All I Want.” I heard this song everywhere when I was younger, and didn’t even make the connection that Olivia Rodrigo wrote it until recently! 

On top of Rodrigo’s work with HSMTMTS, she released an iconic story-telling single entitled, “Driver’s License.” While the title of this song may seem strange, as it is named after an object, a love triangle between herself, Joshua Bassett, and Sabrina Carpenter contributed to this decision. Just like the love between Gabriella and Troy in High School Musical, Rodrigo and Bassett were suspected to share this same chemistry off-screen: until their heart-wrenching breakup, during which this experience, Olivia used her creativity to her advantage. While Joshua was “with that blonde girl,” Sabrina, as stated in her well-known lyrics, this rising star decided to pour her ingredients of emotions into a recipe of a gorgeous musical piece. The genuine pain and fragileness in her tone of voice, singing about how she felt receiving her driver’s license without Joshua by her side, caused head-turning feedback and kicked off her career as a rising star.

Luckily for Rodrigo, many, many, MANY members of Gen Z felt a great connection to this song! As people of Gen Z experience tragic memories of breakups, endings of friendships, abandonment, as well as other sad times in their lives, Olivia’s single has helped so many people grieve and recover from these times of struggle. With more and more streams of her song, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart, for 8 consecutive weeks, as well as the Billboard Global 200 on January 19. As an 18-year old, these accomplishments of Rodrigo’s continue to amaze me! 

While many people thought Rodrigo would simply be a one-hit wonder, or would occasionally release worldwide hits like this, Olivia maintained her audience’s expectations, and boosted her own reputation as she wrote more music. 

Rodrigo followed her hit of “Driver’s License” with “Deja Vu,” which told her story of reminiscing about the memories her and Joshua shared, that he is now taking credit for and recreating with his new romantic pair, Sabrina. This song is much more gentle, and less about the pain of their breakup. During this experience of Olivia’s life, she is in a time of reflection, and realizes her self-worth for the beautiful, talented teenager she is. This mind-altering experience for Rodrigo, which she incorporated into music, once again, touched so many members of Gen Z’s hearts. “Deja Vu,” listed as number 8 on the Billboard’s Hot 100, is yet another one of Rodrigo’s greatest hits: and her star quality continues to rise!

Yet another iconic single Rodrigo released, on May 14, 2021, is named “Good 4 You.” The creativity of this title in itself is very interesting and intriguing, especially to a crowd of Gen Zs who are always looking for something different and entertaining. The fact that this musical piece is also a pop-funk song, focusing on Rodrigo’s anger towards Joshua for how he treated her, also allows the newest generation to release all of their pain in a rather upbeat, “scream it on a car ride” kind of way. This funky piece of music was Rodrigo’s second single, just within 4 months, to reach number 1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100: and just a week later, her most impactful accomplishment (as of now), is her album about a sweet relationship turned sour. 

Aptly titled Sour, Olivia Rodrigo’s newest album includes a variety of emotional, moving ballads, and pop-funk, rock-essence songs, transitioning listeners through the stages of her teenage breakup. It has been released on all music platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube, and has been one of the world’s greatest hits since its release! I have been listening to this album nonstop, and the more attention I pay to the lyrics and true meanings of these songs, the increasing interest and admiration I have for Rodrigo’s strength and courage throughout such a hard time of her life. She has handled losing someone she cared so much about leaps and bounds better than I ever could! Here are some brief explanations of the rest of the songs included on Sour

  • Brutal, which Olivia actually wrote just two weeks before her record deadline, is about her quite harsh and brutal teenage years, including how she felt as if she lost her worth and confidence as a teen experiencing such heartbreak. 
  • 1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back, is unlike Brutal in the way that this song is a much more delicate ballad, as opposed to a spunky and gritty pop song. Rodrigo got the inspiration for the ideas and title of this song from a text message she received, and connected this digital message to the emotional message of how she felt throughout her breakup with Bassett: was I ever the one you wished to be with, or was our relationship so toxic and manipulative because you couldn’t find anyone else? Was Sabrina the one always held above me?
  • Enough for You, also an emotional ballad, gives the audience a sense of the insecurity and vulnerability Olivia experienced during her relationship with Joshua, as well as the thoughts she had during the aftermath of their breakup. Oliviva incorporated a more hopeful message during this song, stating that, someday, she will in fact be a valid partner for someone else, even through such rejection. 
  • Hope Ur OK is yet another song with a much more sad and emotional tone. Olivia stated herself that this song is one that is most close to her heart, and that it shares a rather positive message for the future. Everyone will be okay, and everyone will cope with and move on from this breakup, living out the rest of their lives.
  • Traitor hones in on more of Rodrigo’s pain. She is mainly describing how she now sees Bassett: as a traitor, who betrayed her commitment, trust, and loyalty to him/their relationship for someone else. 
  • Jealousy, Jealousy, aptly titled, displays Rodrigo’s jealousy and envy towards Bassett’s new partner, Sabrina, and how she feels this jealousy consuming her and her thoughts. While Olivia has ended her relationship with Joshua, she is stating through this music that she wishes she was in the position that Carpenter was in, getting affection and attention from the person who once gave it to her. 
  • Happier (one of my favorites!) also sort of channels Rodrigo’s jealousy and grief over her and Bassett’s relationship. In the song, she states “I hope you’re happy but don’t be happier”: meaning that, while she wishes the best for her ex and his new partner, she does not wish their partnership to be any better than the experiences she herself shared with him. 
  • And, finally, Favorite Crime channels Rodrigo’s pain and anger towards Bassett (it is also one of my personal favorites!). Olivia says that she hopes his harsh treatment and manipulation towards her during their relationship was his “favorite crime” he committed to her, and also finds a bit of her inner confidence and self-worth to realize how badly she has been treated/deserves better.

Overall, Rodrigo is just eighteen years old, but has accomplished so much, possibly more than I could accomplish by the time I’m thirty! I truly admire Olivia’s creativity, passion, and ability to turn such strong emotions into powerful music. If you haven’t already listened to Olivia’s album, Sour, I highly recommend to do so! Show this rising star some love and support, and stay tuned for yet another rising star in two weeks! 🙂