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Fans have been anticipating new music from Rodrigo since the release of her debut album, “SOUR,” in 2021. The young pop star dropped “GUTS” on Sept. 8 with 11 songs and newfound confidence — both vocally and emotionally.
The Success of Olivia Rodrigo
Sophomore albums can be more telling than debut albums and have the power to solidify a career, according to Billboard.
The stakes were even higher for Rodrigo given the ultra-success of her first album “SOUR” that gained her super-stardom almost overnight. With the release of “GUTS,” the public placed high expectations on Rodrigo to both live up to and exceed, according to ET Canada. If her first album was exceptional, her next album needed to be better.
Rodrigo’s emotional and beautiful songwriting abilities grabbed the public’s attention on a massive scale with the release of “drivers license” in January 2021. The debut artist climbed the charts with each of her songs from the album becoming certified RIAA Platinum, or higher faster than any other album, according to MNPR Magazine. Rodrigo now boasts the 21st most Spotify listeners worldwide.
Rodrigo released her lead single for the album, “vampire,” on June 30, three months before the album. As her first song release in over two years, listeners embraced the familiarity of Rodrigo’s piano from the first few seconds like a welcome back hug.
Rodrigo addresses her ex in the song, calling him out for his manipulation and taking advantage of her for her fame. Expectations may have been high for this comeback, but Rodrigo still managed to exceed them with this track.
The second and last single off the album, “bad idea right?,” released Aug. 11. From the start, the song is upbeat and reckless, adding a carefree tone to the album and reminiscent of love anthems from the early 2000s. With undertones of alternative-rock music, “bad idea right?” prepared fans for a more electric album pumped with girly themes and confident carelessness.
The opening track of the album, “all-american bitch,” is an anthem for young American women facing impossible expectations to be sexy, kind and beautiful at all times. The song utilizes a sweet and slow build up to a rock-out chorus, using the musical progression as another tool to illustrate how society places conflicting expectations on women.
The fourth track, “lacy,” is an acoustic guitar song that flows as sweetly and seamlessly as the tie of a ribbon. Rodrigo addresses the song to the perfect Lacy, an unknown character with “eyes white as daisies” who she feels envy toward and ultimately worships. As a common theme in Rodrigo’s music, the artist pours her heart out as jealousy envelopes her in this track.
Pop-rock star meets insecure-high-school girl in the fifth track: “ballad of a homeschooled girl.” In the song, Rodrigo goes on a rampage about the social embarrassment of existing — all with an electric guitar. Fans can rock out all while relating to the awkward and isolating scenarios she lays out in the chorus.
“making the bed” moves to an emotional reflection on the hurt and dissatisfaction that came with Rodrigo’s newfound fame after “SOUR” while also recognizing she is the one who put herself there.
“I’m so tired of being the girl that I am/ Every good thing has turned into somethin’ I dread,” Rodrigo sings.
Rodrigo said although she feels extremely lucky to have the career that she has, she wanted a song to also acknowledge the trauma that comes with it, according to Interview Magazine.
“get him back!” is the song listeners will possibly have the most fun jamming out to with friends or in a solo car ride. The multiple contradicting thoughts of the song display the complexity of heartache with feelings of missing an ex while also holding a deep desire for revenge.
“love is embarrassing,” the eighth “GUTS” track, recounts the ridiculous thoughts and actions that result from being in love, that upon reflection “don’t mean a thing” later on in life. As another track marked by a focus on failed love, Rodrigo creates a playful and danceable chorus to combat the humiliation of it all.
Rodrigo holds true to her feelings of anger and betrayal in “the grudge,” where she is wrought with hurt in holding a grudge against an ex. Lacking the strength to forgive and forget the unapologetic party, Rodrigo dwells on the pain caused to her that still gives her nightmares, thoughts of self-doubt and “confusion that still lingers.”
The last track of the album, “teenage dream,” acts as a goodbye to Rodrigo’s teenage self and “SOUR” era. Rodrigo addresses her anxiety surrounding the release of new music and getting older, changes that leave her subject to the opinions of millions. Despite words of reassurance that things will get better, Rodrigo cannot help wondering about the possibility of becoming a failure and disappointment in this track.
Rodrigo’s brutal honesty, vulnerable lyrics and powerful voice throughout “GUTS” proves that the young pop star is here to stay. “GUTS” has already surpassed “SOUR” as Rodrigo’s biggest album debut in the United States, according to Chart Data. On Sept. 13, Rodrigo announced her GUTS World Tour for 2024, where she’ll be performing her hit songs for stadiums and arenas all over the world.
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