By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Contributor
Olivia Rodrigo is the newest teen pop sensation taking over the charts this year with her debut album SOUR. With the aid of Tik-Tok, Rodrigo was able to break into mainstream music while still maintaining her role on Disney Channel’s “High school Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Her song, “All I Want,” which was featured in the series, went viral on Tik-Tok in 2019. This introduced Rodrigo to an age group outside of her normal Disney-watching demographic.
Each of her singles has gone viral on Tik-Tok leading up to the release of SOUR. “driver’s license,” “deja vu” and “good 4 u” have been used in six million videos collectively on the platform.
Rodrigo’s sound can best be described as a collage of all of her musical influences. Her deeply personal and specific songwriting style is inspired by her idol, Taylor Swift. Swift is even listed in the credits for the song, “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” because Rodrigo interpolated Swift’s song “New Year’s Day” into the song by rerecording the piano riff herself.
SOUR was produced by Dan Nigro, who also produced “Kid Krow” for Rodrigo’s friend, and fellow Swift-inspired pop artist, Conan Gray in 2020. So naturally, some of Rodrigo’s slow ballads like “traitor” have a similar sound to Gray’s music.
But Rodrigo does more than pop ballads. The song “good 4 u” has an angsty, upbeat chorus that is reminiscent of Paramore’s 2007 punk hit, “Misery Business.” Rodrigo is even being recognized for SOUR’s genre-bending. The album’s opening track, “brutal,” took the spot for Billboard’s number one on Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart in early June.
While some criticize her similarities to other artists, I think Rodrigo has found a way to perfectly blend her influences together to create a sound that is unique to her. In addition to her genre mashups, Rodrigo has undeniably proven her ability to connect with both younger and older audiences through her relatable storytelling (and of course, Tik-Tok helped too.)
Following the massive success of her first album, it’s clear that Olivia Rodrigo is not going anywhere.
Featured Image by Rachael Gerron via Olivia Rodrigo’s “Deja Vu.”