OLIVIA RODRIGO – SOUR REVIEW

Very few music artists have risen to the top of the Pop world as quickly as Olivia Rodrigo while being embraced by all kinds of music listeners and music critics. There have been people who had had meteoric rises(such as Justin Bieber, Kid Laroi, or Juice Wrld), but no one who been as esteemed as Olivia Rodrigo. Olivia Rodrigo went from Disney Channel actress to global Pop superstar overnight. She got her start on in a supporting role on Disney Channel’s Bizaardvark, where she appeared for three seasons. In late 2019, she began her starring role on the Disney Channel show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Starring on this show garnered her a lot of popularity, but nothing near the levels of stardom she was about to approach. In January 2021, Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single ‘drivers license,’ which immediately went viral and was beloved by all types of music listeners. This debut single garnered love from pretty much everyone, and it quickly shot to the top of the charts(including the Billboard Hot 100). ‘drivers license’ has already been billed as the song of 2021 by pretty much every major news and music publication. Olivia Rodrigo followed this single up with two more singles, ‘deja vu’ and ‘good 4 u,’ which both also received major acclaim from critics and casual music listeners alike. ‘deja vu’ peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and ‘good 4 u’ peaked at number one. After this kind of start to her career, Olivia’s debut record, SOUR, had extremely high expectations from pretty much everyone, including myself. I can not remember the last time a new artist debuted with three consecutive singles of this quality in the mainstream Pop world, so very big things were expected from Olivia’s first album. With that being said, here is my opinion on Olivia Rodrigo’s album SOUR. Please let me know in the comments below if you agree with my opinion on this record, and also let me know in the comments what your favorite songs are from Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR.

All I did was try my best. This the kind of thanks I get? Unrelentlessly upset. They say these are the golden years, but I wish I could disappear. Ego crush is so severe. God, it’s brutal out here! – ‘brutal’

Going into listening to this record, it was tough to know what to expect because Olivia Rodrigo’s first three singles are so different from each other. All three songs have their unique sound and style that is unlike the others. Nevertheless, there was no way for anyone to have guessed what the first song on SOUR, which is called ‘brutal,’ would sound like. ‘brutal’ has a hardcore Punk sound that reminds me so much of the 1990s. This track has a hard and gruff guitar riff that displays the emotion of the lyrics perfectly. Olivia’s vocals on this track also emphasize the lyrical tone of this song awesomely. Considering Olivia is a very talented singer( this is apparent from her first three singles), I do not think anyone could have guessed she would have shouted the lyrics to the opening track of this album in such a Punk Rock sort of way. Olivia’s vocal performance on this song reminds me of bands like Bikini Kill or Agent Orange. On ‘brutal,’ Olivia Rodrigo is listing all of her insecurities and all of the ways she doubts herself. She portrays the anxieties of being a teenager in this day and age in such a palpable way, making this song very relatable for so many people. ‘brutal’ is just such an excellent way to start this record. Following this, we get ‘traitor,’ which has quickly become a fan favorite and is already in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. ‘traitor’ is an acoustic piano pop ballad where Olivia flexes her singing chops. I love the vocals on this track; the emotions that Olivia was feeling when making this song are palpable. One thing that is evident from pretty much every song on this record including this one is the fact that Olivia Rodrigo wears her influences on her sleeves. She takes the sounds of her favorite artists and expands on them in an interesting and special way. On ‘traitor,’ I can hear a lot of Lorde and Vanessa Carlton’s influences. Lyrically, this track is about an ex-boyfriend that hurt Olivia in a major way. She accuses him of betraying her because he went and starting dating a new girl within two days of breaking up with her. She helped him become happy again when he was at his lowest, then he left her as soon as he was okay. Following this, we get the smash hit ‘drivers license,’ which is another song about Olivia’s break up with her shitty ex-boyfriend. The production and sound of this track reminds a lot of people of Lorde. Olivia herself has said that rising singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams is also a big inspiration for this song. It has that lo-fi Indie Bedroom Pop element to the instrumental that has become very popular over the last couple of years. I love how the production gets bigger and grander as the song goes on, comes to a huge climax about three quarters through the song, then ends on a simple and calm note. ‘drivers license’ is another song where Olivia shows how great of a singer she is. Once again, you can just feel how sad and hurt she is by this boy through her voice. Another reason so many people love this song is because of how touching and heartbreaking the lyrics are. It is like a punch in the gut listening to Olivia sing: Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me. ‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street… ‘drivers license’ is a truly excellent Pop song, and it is easy to see why this song blew up in the way that it did. The next track, ‘1 step forward, 3 steps back’ is a song that gives context to this tumultuous relationship that Olivia Rodrigo got out of before she wrote this album. This song describes how rocky the romance was. In this song, Olivia details how one day their relationship would seem beautiful and amazing and the next day she would cry about him and wonder if he loves her. I love the way this track is put together. It has a Folk-Pop sound to it that reminds me of Taylor Swift’s new music. The way the verses are sung is a little off of the beat, making Olivia’s lyricism pop even more. The sound of this song is very simple but different from anything else on the record, and it stands out in a cool way. I feel like ‘1 step forward, 3 steps back’ is a bit of a sleeper hit and could become one of the bigger songs from this record in the future.

‘deja vu,’ the second single from this record which was also critically acclaimed upon release. It is a song with a dreamy Indie Pop sound that is reminiscent of Billie Eilish. The production for this song is very futuristic and strange; the weird sound effects in the instrumental add to the attitude and angst that is felt in the lyrics of this song. Similar to everything else on this album to this point, Olivia Rodrigo’s vocals and lyrics stand out on this track. Vocally, I especially love the falsetto in chorus, as it adds so much conviction to what Olivia is saying. On ‘deja vu,’ Olivia is singing about how she sees that her ex-boyfriend is bringing his new girl to all their previously favorite spots and how everything activity he does with her they also did. She is wondering if remembers when she used to do these things with him and if he still thinks about the great times they had together. The sentiment of this song is extremely relatable and it is easy to see why so many people love it. Following this, we get the third single from this record, ‘good 4 u.’ This track is my favorite song from this record(which is saying a lot because I truly enjoy quite a few songs on SOUR so much); in fact, ‘good 4 u’ is probably my favorite song from 2021 up to this point. When I first heard this song, it was so different from anything I would have expected from Olivia. ‘good 4 u’ has a Pop-Punk feeling that is so reminiscent of the music that was popular when I was an early teenager. It has a sound and feel to it which makes me think of bands like Paramore, Boys Like Girls, and All Time Low. On ‘good 4 u,’ Olivia Rodrigo is wondering how her ex-boyfriend seemingly does not care about their breakup at all. While she had been an absolute wreck and crying every night and feeling so shitty about what happened, he seemed to be happier than ever. One of my favorite things about this song is how emotive Olivia Rodrigo is with her vocals. From sarcastically laughing while singing to shouting some of the lyrics, Olivia’s anger about this situation shines through and resonates with every listener. This is another song that is extremely relatable and just strikes a chord with every listener because so many people have felt similarly to how Olivia feels in ‘good 4 u.’ Olivia Rodrigo strips back the angst and anger in the next song, which is called ‘enough for you.’ In this song, instead of blaming her boyfriend, she is doubting herself and wondering if she was ever even good enough. She sings about how she tried to do everything she could to get him to love her as much as she loved him and nothing ever worked. This song a very calm and sweet acoustic Folk-Pop sound that reminds me a lot of Taylor Swift. ‘enough for you’ is a song that fits very well into the Folk-Pop landscape that has blown up over the last couple of years, and I could see it becoming another sleeper hit from this record. The next song, ‘happier,’ is another song that expands Olivia’s sound and shows that she can excel at so many kinds of music. This track almost has an old-school Southern Acoustic Blues sound to it; instrumentally and vocally this track is almost like a mixture of Etta James and Adele. Olivia puts so much soul into her vocals on this song that it is easy for the listener to connect with her emotionally. It is impossible to not feel for Olivia Rodrigo when listening to ‘happier.’ It is another song that is extremely relatable. On ‘happier,’ Olivia is reflecting on her relationship and the good times she had with her ex. She wants him to be happy now that he moved on with someone else but also wants to know that he still appreciates all of the wonderful times they had together. With ‘happier,’ Olivia Rodrigo once again touches on a feeling that pretty much every listener has experienced, which helps her connect with people on a level that not a lot of other artists are able to do.

Co-comparison is killin’ me slowly. I think, I think too much about kids who don’t know me. I’m so sick of myself. I’d rather be, rather be anyone, anyone else. But jealousy, jealousy started followin’ me. Started followin’ me… – jealousy, jealousy

‘jealousy, jealousy’ is another one of my favorite songs from this record. This is a song that I know I will be consistently listening to for years because of honest and understandable this track is. ‘jealousy, jealousy’ brings us back to the punk rock side of Olivia; this track has a late 90s and early 2000s Punk and Post-Grunge sound to it that I have not heard since this kind of music was popular. I love that Olivia incorporates the kinds of music she grew up listening to and loving into her sound; she truly does not care what is popular today and loves to go against the grain. One thing I appreciate about this song is how the instrumental gets bigger and bolder as the song progresses. It is like as Olivia’s vocals start sounding angrier and angrier, the production gets more distorted and intense. On ‘jealousy, jealousy,’ Olivia is singing about how social media makes her envy people she does not even know. She sees these people online who she feels like are cooler, smarter, funnier, more well off, and better looking than her and these people make her dislike herself. Ironically, she also notices how people online feel the same way about her, and realizes that social media is a vicious cycle. When most people hear the song the succeeds ‘jealousy, jealousy, they think of one person of one person, and that is Taylor Swift. ‘favorite crime’ is one more song where Olivia wears her influences on her sleeve; it is so easy to hear the inspiration that Taylor Swift has on this track. This song has that Folk-Pop sound similar that Taylor has excelled at over the last couple of years; sonically, this song is kind of similar to ‘1 step forward, 3 steps back.’ In order to excel at this kind of music, you have to connect with your listeners through your vocals and lyrics in a very deep way. Unsurprisingly, Olivia does this in a major way on ‘favorite crime.’ On this track, Olivia acknowledges that she was partly at fault for how bad her relationship with her ex-boyfriend was because she let herself get treated badly. Her self-esteem and confidence had become so low that she let someone talk down to her and treat her badly, and she can not completely blame her ex-boyfriend because she did not stick up for herself. With that being said, she still appreciates all of the good times they had, and she still loves the positive elements of their relationship. Olivia Rodrigo closes out SOUR with a heart-wrenchingly sweet track ‘hope ur ok.’ This track has an acoustic Pop-Rock sound to it with a distorted guitar riff that is low-key yet intense enough to emphasize this song’s lyricism in a major way. On ‘hope ur ok,’ Olivia sings about two friendships she had grown up with people who were a part of the LGBTQ community with families that did not respect or love them. She noticed how tough their lives were growing up while she knew them, and as she drifted apart from them she could never forget them. This song is so touching and beautiful, and I know it resonates with so many young people who are going through similar issues to what Olivia’s friends had gone through. I honestly think this song will stand the test of time and it will help so many kids who need to hear a message like this from one of their favorite pop stars. It is awesome that Olivia made a song like ‘hope ur ok’ for those people who need to hear it.

Due to the success and critical acclaim of Olivia Rodrigo’s first three singles, her debut album SOUR had very high expectations when it was released. Fortunately, SOUR completely lived up to all of these expectations. This album is as good(if not better) than anyone could have predicted it to be. This album is sonically diverse and proves that Olivia Rodrigo can excel at making whatever kind of music she wants to make. From Punk Rock to Post Grunge to Folk to every kind of Pop music, Olivia Rodrigo demonstrates that she is a superstar in so many ways on this record. SOUR is one of the best-written Pop records I have listened to in a while. Olivia captures how it feels to be a teenager in 2021 in such a perfect way on SOUR. From feeling like life is over because of a bad break up from feeling like shit envying others on social media to noticing her LGBTQ friends getting treated badly by their parents, Olivia touches on so many things that young people experience today and makes them understandable for people of all ages. Overall, Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR is an extremely impressive debut record and is easily one of the best(if not the best) of 2021 so far.

Favorite Tracks – brutal, traitor, drivers license, 1 step forward, 3 steps back, deja vu, good 4 u, jealousy, jealousy, favorite crime, hope ur ok

9.2/10

2 comments

  1. Interesting background story about her. Her musical journey is on the right track.

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