Olivia Rodrigo seemingly appeared out of nowhere in 2020 – straight into our hearts, topping charts and playlists everywhere. If there were anything good that came out of successive lockdowns, Rodrigo’s music would be it.
Rodrigo shot to fame after the release of her debut single, “Drivers License,” which became an instant hit. She sings of driving past her ex’s house after passing her driving test – something they had planned to celebrate together.
She released “Drivers License” in January 2020, a few weeks before her 18th birthday. The song broke the Spotify record for the most streams in a day. Rodrigo’s song debuted at number one in the U.S. – the first for a female artist since Lauryn Hill in 1998.
What made the song resonate with so many? Some people attribute success to the lyrics and the intrigue surrounding them. Many fans believed the song was about Joshua Basset, her co-star in High School Musical. The “blonde girl” in the song, the one who is “so much older” could refer to Sabrina Carpenter, another Disney star. Still, many listeners didn’t know (or care) about the details. People connected with the song because of its devastating anguish.
But Rodrigo was only getting started. In January 2020, she wrote another song about watching her ex move on. She posted a clip on Instagram, which caught the attention of writer-producer Daniel Nigro. The song just hit him, he said. There was something about the intensity of the lyrics and the way Rodrigo sang them. Nigro messaged her, and the rest is history.
Rodrigo doubled down in her studio and wrote new songs between filming for “High School Musical” in Salt Lake City. She and Nigro traded files back and forth until “Sour” was born – a stellar genre-defying debut album. With “Sour,” Rodrigo proved to detractors that “Drivers License” wasn’t a fluke. Taylor Swift’s influence on her music is undeniable. Like Swift, Rodrigo uses multiple narratives to bring songs to life.
She continues to make history. Rodrigo bagged 3 out of 7 Grammy nominations in 2022: Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for “Sour,” and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Drivers License.” We can’t wait to see what she does next.