Olivia Rodrigo: America’s favorite driver has got GUTS 

This image released by Geffen Records shows “Guts” by Olivia Rodrigo. Photo by Geffen Records via AP.

Despite becoming famous for her acting work on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” Olivia Rodrigo is just like the rest of us. She’s 20 years old, has felt a heartbreak in her life and is five-foot-five-inches tall, although some of us can’t say we are — I know I’m certainly not. However, there is another leg up that she has against us — or multiple, I should say. 

The young actress and singer-songwriter has already won three Grammy awards for her heart wrenching debut album, “SOUR,” which portrays the typical teenage years of love, anger and dismay. 

Her fame quickly rose to capture the throne as she won the hearts and minds of teenagers around the world with her hit single that broke Spotify’s record for the most streams in a week, “drivers license,” which has become the teenage heartbreak anthem. 

After a long hiatus, Rodrigo pre-released two songs from her long-awaited follow-up album “GUTS:” “vampire” and “bad idea right?” in June of this year. The songs tease the meaning of the album: “The confusion that comes with becoming a young adult and figuring out your place in this world,” says Rodrigo in an interview with People Magazine. She added that it’s about “figuring out who you want to be and who you want to hang out with and all of that stuff.” 

“Vampire” sounds a bit like an angrily written text revealing every wrong someone has done and every feeling you’ve ever felt because of it. However, the meaning is much deeper than just that. 

“[Vampire] kind of looks inward. It’s more about my regret and kind of beating myself up for doing something that I knew wasn’t going to turn out great. And kind of just taking ownership of that and dealing with those feelings,” explains Rodrigo in a SiriusXM interview. 

“[Vampire] kind of looks inward. It’s more about my regret and kind of beating myself up for doing something that I knew wasn’t going to turn out great. And kind of just taking ownership of that and dealing with those feelings.”

Olivia Rodrigo in a SiriusXM interview.

However, how can it be her own fault if she implies in her song that she was being taken advantage of? 

“Oh, what a mesmerizing, paralyzing, fucked-up little thrill / Can’t figure out just how you do it / and God knows I never will / Went for me and not her / ‘Cause girls your age know better” 

The song uses the blood-sucking creature to reveal how cruel and draining certain relationships could be and warns all her listeners to beware of the warning signs of others: Don’t look through rose-colored glasses. 

But the meaning isn’t the only thing that gives the song its well-deserved popularity and rise. She starts out by whispering lyrics, making the listener feel at ease just as the person she is referring to in the song did to her. As time goes on — in the song and in her personal story — the pace quickens, and she starts to talk about the warnings she’s received from other women but ignored after being manipulated into doing so.  

At the song’s climax, she practically starts to yell: “bloodsucker, fame-fucker, bleedin’ me dry like a goddamn vampire,” which is her way of deliberately pointing a finger at her abuser and making them responsible for their actions instead of brushing it off her shoulder. 

Many young women resonate with Rodrigo’s words as they have suffered through the same unfortunate circumstances as she did and sometimes even worse. With her songs, she stands up not just for herself, but for the misfortunes of all women. 

Finally, after a treacherous two years of waiting for her new album, it has finally come out. And, with the title “GUTS,” she’s definitely still experiencing the same romantic hardship that teenagers do even though she’s not a teen anymore. 

“When I first listened to the album in its entirety, I was blown away by the progress she made in her vocals,” said Cooper Nguyen, a first-semester biological sciences major. 

“When I first listened to the album in its entirety, I was blown away by the progress she made in her vocals.”

Cooper Nguyen, first-semester biological sciences major.

The tracklist opens with “all-american bitch,” which Rodrigo highlighted to People Magazine by saying that “it’s one of my favorite songs I have ever written,” and that “it expresses something that I’ve been trying to express since I was 15 years old, this repressed anger and feeling of confusion or trying to be put into a box as a girl.” 

Surprisingly, from the title’s negative connotation, “all-american bitch” is simply empowering. Despite her frustrations with being a woman — even in the 21st century — she reflects herself as an opposite comparison to the stereotypical American person: soda pop-addicted and ungrateful. 

“I know my place / I know my place and this is it / I don’t get angry when I’m pissed / I’m the eternal optimist” 

Although she starts out with a campfire-style guitar picking, she quickly ramps up the speed and introduces a strong beat of the drums, which are representative of her reasonable feminist-related thoughts and conflicts. 

“I forgive and I forget / I know my age and I act like it / Got what you can’t resist / I’m a perfect all-American” 

In contrast to “all-american bitch” is “making the bed,” the sixth song on the tracklist, which is symbolic of her raw awakening to the emotional turmoil caused by her overnight fame. Truly, this song is one of the more authentic she’s made thus far. 

“They tell me that they love me like I’m some tourist attraction / They’re changing’ my machinery and I just let it happen / I got the things I wanted, it’s just not what I imagined” 

Empathize with her for a bit: you’re a 17-year-old in your room, doing something that you’re passionate about simply doing. Then, you suddenly you gain all this fame and followers and the passion of the art has spoiled. You’d probably feel empty, right? Even with the fame, no one’s actually your supporter; your fans are solely supporting your fame and suddenly you might catch yourself doing things out of obligation rather than out of passion. This is exactly what happened to Rodrigo.  

“I felt so ill-equipped … That was an overwhelming experience, but now I definitely feel a responsibility,” she said to Interview Magazine, “I just try not to think about it during the writing process.” 

While listening to the full album, there are one and a half words to describe it: Gut-wrenching (in a good way). 

Rating: 4/5 

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