By Makayla Montgomery
With her recent fame through circulation on the app TikTok, Olivia Rodrigo has established herself in the pop music scene with the release of her debut album “SOUR.” The successes of her first single “Drivers License ” and her most recent single “Good 4 U ” have put Rodrigo at the top of the charts; both songs have reached the number one spot on the Billboard Top 100 chart. “SOUR” has been very well received from the target audience of teens and young adults alike.
On the surface, “SOUR” is simply a breakup record. Underneath the overarching subject of crying over an ex, the album is filled to the brim with feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and being misunderstood. These are difficult themes to properly convey with a pop sound, but Rodrigo engages audiences with teenage angst and the easily relatable motif of a failed relationship.
The opening track “Brutal ” describes Rodrigo’s insecurity and anxiety toward the world she lives in. She reveals her disappointment with angrily muttered lyrics over a single electric guitar about these supposed “golden years” and her discomfort with how she is perceived; she hints at an awareness about her recent fame with the lyric “who am I if not exploited?” This track sets the scene for what “SOUR” is truly about: uncertainty in everything, including yourself.
The song that boosted Rodrigo to stardom, “Drivers License ,” perfectly encapsulates the post-breakup problem of being reminded of an ex by doing even the most mundane of things— for instance, driving. She mourns her plans of driving with her lover when she got her driver’s license, since now she “drives alone past [his] street.”
The latest single, “Good 4 U ,” is one of the more upbeat songs on the album. Rodrigo turns her sadness into a short burst of anger with a high energy chorus, telling her ex that he looks “happy and healthy” while she “spent the night crying on [her] bathroom floor.” The track encompasses the resentment of seeing your ex doing better than you, a feeling that is more relatable than some would like to admit.
“SOUR’s” main theme of insecurity comes to a head in three tracks that work as a section. In the track “Enough For You, ” Rodrigo softly sings over an acoustic guitar about not feeling up to par with her lover’s past relationships. This sentiment of comparison continues in the next track “Happier ” with Rodrigo wishing her ex the best, but not really. Rodrigo ends the song by belting the title lyric, “I hope you’re happy, but don’t be happier,” Over a bass strum and tight harmonies, “Jealousy, Jealousy” describes a general anger Rodrigo feels toward the need to compare herself to others.
Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR” perfectly captures the complexities of being a teenage girl. Rodrigo sings of disillusionment, first heartbreak, and feeling like everyone is out to get you; topics many teenage girls are sure to find relatable . Her lyrics are a combination of wistful and harsh, wanting to think fondly of the past but also remembering for what it really was. “SOUR” is a perfect soundtrack for anyone trying to navigate the space between their teenage years and young adulthood, and all the messy emotions in between.
Although TikTok is the source of most of the buzz, “SOUR” is not just for teenagers . Many adult women have taken to platforms like Twitter to express how much they would have appreciated the album during their teenage years. Rodrigo shows that these complicated feelings are an echo across generations of women . Rodrigo is letting everyone know that she, too, knows what it is to feel… sour. Given what she has brought to the table with her debut, many are waiting to see what Olivia Rodrigo does next.