Olivia Rodrigo's “SOUR” is an impressive debut by one of the most renowned artists of 2021
With such success with both public and critics, the results that “SOUR” will give Olivia Rodrigo from now on will be nothing but sweet.
Considering that the golden age of “Disney Acts”, which unveiled to the world names like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers, ended at the beginning of the last decade, one thing is certain: not even the greatest of optimists would have foreseen the phenomenon that Olivia Rodrigo would become in 2021 when the 18-year-old released her first single off the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series soundtrack, "driver's license". Revealed in the first week of January, the song with beautiful vocals and confessional lyrics about her relationship with actor Joshua Bassett, and a possible reference to actress Sabrina Carpenter, caught the attention of a much larger audience than expected (after all, who doesn't love a good ol' gossip, am I right?), making her break several records, such as the most daily streams for a woman's music on Spotify in the United States. After so much success with just one song, the question didn't that does not want to be silent was: what would be Olivia's next step?
The singer's next step was a double one, with the release of the single “deja vu” and the announcement of her first album, entitled “SOUR”. Despite not having the same impact as “driver's license”, “deja vu” also managed to consolidate in the charts and win the public's sympathy with its Californian atmosphere (where the singer was born and raised), pop culture references such as Glee and Billy Joel and harmonized backing vocals, which according to Olivia, were inspired by Taylor Swift's “Cruel Summer”, of whom the singer has said she is a big fan of. To increase anticipation for the release of the album, Olivia Rodrigo couldn't have chosen a better song: “good 4 u”, released a week before the whole record took by surprise both those who were already following her previous releases, and those who still had some skepticism towards the singer. Extremely well executed, “good 4 u” showcases Olivia's versatility in delivering an angry pop-rock like the ones we had in the 2000s that has been missing from the charts for many years, and it's a relief to see it return to the mainstream not only through her hands, but also through Willow Smith, Miley Cyrus and Pale Waves, bringing back an era of women going beyond pop music, flirting with classics like Avril Lavigne, Paramore, and other names that influenced the genre.
Released in full last Friday (the 21st), "SOUR" begins in the same rebellious tone that "good 4 u" prepared the audience to receive. “brutal”, the first track on the album recalls punk rock bands like Elastica and Hole, bringing in its composition several insecurities of the singer that are reaffirmed in other tracks, such as “1 step forward, 3 steps back”, which alongside “traitor”, the second track on the album, brings a more vulnerable side to Olivia Rodrigo, where she tells without too many euphemisms about her latest breakup.
Of the eleven tracks, only two are not about Bassett, which is by no means a problem, since it was a fact that marked her in some way, and as she said in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian: “I'm a teenager , I write about things that I feel very intensely about, and I think that's authentic and natural. I don't really understand what people want me to write about; do you want me to write a song about income tax?", rebutting criticism of his confessional lyrics. Despite the proposed theme for the album, it's interesting to see songs like "jealousy, jealousy", which talks about how social media can affect the self-esteem of a young person, and “hope ur ok” are part of the album, as they show the singer's versatility when approaching other themes, and it can be also a possibility of what we will be able to see from her upcoming projects. This last track mentioned was the one chosen to close “SOUR.”, Olivia leaves the acidity aside, this time she puts herself as a supporting role in the narrative to demonstrate empathy with people who face their own battles against intolerance daily, and wish these people, wherever they are, that they be fine.
“I'm a teenager , I write about things that I feel very intensely about, and I think that's authentic and natural. I don't really understand what people want me to write about; do you want me to write a song about income tax?"
— Olivia Rodrigo for The Guardian
Just like any other artist that is coming into the industry, it is common for the public to seek to know where the influences of this new work come from, and in “SOUR”, in addition to the already consolidated names mentioned above, we can also notice influences from rising artists such as Lorde and Conan Gray. The success of this album, which is even more surprising being a debut one, was possible thanks to a number of factors: in addition to the very well defined influences, the organic promotion mainly by TikTok, and the way Olivia tells her story so honestly to the point of making the songs extremely relatable was certainly essencial in this phenomenon, and although there is already this kind of criticism surrounding the artist, it's still too early to say that she's just a songwriter of breakup songs, after all, this is just the first album released by her. With such success with both public and critics, the results that “SOUR” will give Olivia Rodrigo from now on will be nothing but sweet.
Check out Olivia Rodrigo's debut "SOUR” below: