Olivia Rodrigo doesn’t want to be America’s sweetheart

In the last few hours, two years after the success of Sour, Olivia Rodrigo released her second album Guts. Here’s a guide to the songs.

Olivia Rodrigo, photo by Nick Walker

Olivia Rodrigo, photo by Nick Walker

On June 27 last year, Olivia Rodrigo announced the release of her new album. Gutssecond after extraordinary and unexpected success Sour. In fact, from March to May 2021, the singer experienced an incredible moment thanks to the success Driver’s licensewhich became the most popular song on YouTube in 2021, and subsequently the song Sourhis first album, released a few months before the summer. Described in the media along with Billie Eilish as the voice of Generation Z.these boundaries seem too narrow for the author, who, after winning three Grammys in 2022 – as a revelation, best pop song with a driver’s license and best pop album with Sour –he emphasized several times, even in the previous album, that he was not living a youthful dream and could not describe it.

And during the tour, she was compared several times to the young Billie Eilish, as well as to Taylor Swift, who collaborated as an author in Sour, Olivia Rodrigo has clearly shifted her musical melodies towards the pop-rock of the early 2000s. A differentiation that seemed to have already been read in Sourwith episodes like cruel, intro to the album, but what’s in Guts has reached its peak, and this time we don’t have Elvis Costello to thank. Guts himself appears in the Brutal video, and the first single is also released A vampirereleased June 30, showcases a grittier, more violent story for the new album’s protagonist.

The new project continues to see the presence in the productions, as well as in the writing of Dan Nigro, one of the secrets of success. Sourwhich apparently was repeated in Guts. And as during the transfer, the first song Sour, Cruelinextricably linked with the last of Courage, teenage dream: Olivia Rodrigo explains that she didn’t live out her teenage dream. responding on the new album that he can’t stick to his generation’s teenage dream image. A realization, one of many on an album in which the deep maturity of the story is modeled around a figure far removed from the narrative canons of a young successful singer. much closer to a woman who regrets missing stages of growth because of fame.

Baustel: “Everything can be political, even a pop song”

A train that figuratively stops at multiple stations and offers a variety of musical souls, from condemning a toxic relationship to realizing you’ve become the face of “American Girl.” the dream of viewers who in the 2000s attributed this role to Britney Spears. The power and post-teen dimension seem to create that contrast, which musically takes refuge in distorted guitars and increasingly pronounced percussion: a nod to early 2000s pop rock, “a tribute” to what Avril Lavigne has managed to create in the American musical imagination and beyond..

Olivia Rodrigo seems to have progressed, and not unexpectedly, in an original way, without suffering from the difficulties of the second album and taking a narrative leap that could introduce her. There are no flights of fancy here into musical worlds foreign to his lineage for larger markets (most notably hip-hop and reggaeton), but a constant delineation of an identity that is clear even to the general public, even if it is controversial.

A guide to songs from Olivia Rodrigo’s new album

But let’s take a look at Olivia Rodrigo’s new album Guts, track by track:

  • All American Bitch: Song produced by Dan Nigro. Like Brutal for Sour, All American Bitch also represents the legend of the new album, but above all a connection to the previous album. The song describes the obvious social image achieved by the young singer after the success of her debut album Drivers License and Grammy, but most of all the contrast with the role of “America’s Sweetheart”. The song highlights, on the one hand, the intense emotional work of balancing his private and public figures, but also the ease of power achieved as he sings: “I’ve got the sun in my damn pocket“.

  • Bad idea, right?: Song produced by Dan Nigro. There’s a lightness that’s also present in Bad Idea, right, the second single from the album, which has already racked up nearly 80 million streams on Spotify. The song does not reflect the sadness of a past relationship, but ironically plays on the nostalgia of returning and the figure of friends protecting her from an unwanted ex. One of the photos in the song is taken when Rodrigo sings: “I know I should stop but I can’t and I told my friends I was sleeping but I never said where or on what sheets.”
  • Vampire: Song produced by Dan Nigro. It is the first single from Guts, released on June 30 last year, and like Drivers License, Vampire also deals with themes of betrayal and emotional manipulation. The dynamics of a toxic relationship are described, with Rodrigo’s obvious infatuation also leading her to a series of self-destructive actions. As with Drivers License, which featured Joshua Bassett, also a former Disney star, this time Vampire features a small showcase about his relationship with DJ Zach Bia. The juxtaposition of the pop figure of the blood-sucking vampire and the gradual loss of energy through a relationship seems to be the most banal yet simple and direct metaphor available to the public. Just think about 322 million streams in just a few months.

  • Lacy: Song produced by Dan Nigro and Olivia Rodrigo. Lacy represents one of the most interesting narrative experiments on the album: a kind of prayer to the female archetype in our time. In a veiled condemnation, Rodrigo represents all the insecurities the young singer faces when confronted with stereotypes of female beauty, a losing battle from the start with what social media represents. The dualism between hell and heaven, between the beauty of the images and the vulnerability of the human being, makes this ballad with guitars and choir the beginning of the ballad section of the album.
  • Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl: Song produced by Dan Nigro. Olivia Rodrigo’s social critique of the consequences of social commodification of everyday life continues, but not in such a veiled form. With a very cruel expression like “social suicide,” he describes the vulnerability of his generation, which needs to Google how to approach a person. Social phobia is one of the elements of the album that makes it clear that human relationships have also become an aspect of everyday life associated with performances.
  • Making the Bed: Song produced by Dan Nigro. Among the American singer’s most self-aware songs are his themes of social responsibility after becoming an international star, as well as the requirement to act like an adult in a recording universe that doesn’t forgive naivety. It is in the first verse that the theme of music as pleasure is resumed, which, however, loses its lightness and rhythm when it becomes a working performance. And the condemnation does not escape Rodrigo herself, who in the chorus states that it is difficult to complain about all these aspects of success when she herself gave everything to achieve it.

  • Logical: Song produced by Dan Nigro and Ryan Linville. We return to Vampire and the theme of manipulation, where the attacks on this mirror figure of a partner from the past, whom many point out as DJ Zach Bia, also become increasingly persistent. As in “The Vampire”, there is an accusation that he was manipulated into believing that “2 plus 2 equals 5”, to the point where love for another person was suppressed by love for oneself. In this case, in the last verse, Olivia Rodrigo admits that she has to share the guilt with her ex-boyfriend, that love is not “logical or rational” at all, a feeling that she cannot accept.
  • Give it back: Song produced by Dan Nigro and Alexander 23. The theme of her past relationships reaches its apotheosis in the song “Get Him Back”, where the doubts about what their relationship could be and the resentment that makes her want him to hurt like she was in the past, takes over. It’s here that we notice the narrative fury brought on by the singer’s young age, with familiar references when she says she can heal him because she’s “her father’s daughter” (Ronald Rodrigo is a therapist). The song touches on codes of revenge as well as traditional love when she reveals that she wants to make him something to eat. “Get Him Back” represents Rodrigo’s most conflicted emotional chaos.
  • Love is confusing: Song produced by Dan Nigro. Olivia Rodrigo’s final circle of hell is represented by the realization of change after a turbulent history. The singer realizes how much the process of evolution has destroyed her, imagining it as “I was lying in bed for a week when you told me you needed space,” but also a new self-awareness that makes her stronger, able to release the “third.” world war.” Along with Get Him Back, it represents the album’s energetic reaction to the ballad-closed Logical: the electric guitar distortion reappears.
  • Discontent: Song produced by Dan Nigro and Ryan Linville. The guitars fade out again and we move into minor key to talk about the disappointment of betrayal and the possibility of forgiveness. Rodrigo finds himself describing the pain of discovering betrayal, such a naive gesture on the part of his partner that he is unable to respond, finding himself without the strength needed to forgive. It is the contrast between the naivety of betrayal and the strength required for forgiveness that makes Rodrigo’s emotions contradictory.

  • “Beauty Isn’t Beauty”: Song produced by Dan Nigro. As with Lacey, Pretty Woman Is Ugly also returns to the theme of social expectations, both in terms of aesthetic appearance and social desirability. The vulnerability Rodrigo celebrates in previous songs is again portrayed through the uncertainty of what we face every day, from cell phones to magazines to the people around us. Especially in this passage, the author focuses on how the cycle of insecurity is an endless cycle in which a person will never be able to control all aspects: the result of all this is expressed in anxiety and social phobia.
  • Teenage Dream: Song produced by Dan Nigro. The maturity reflected in his second album, which stood out above all after he faced impressive changes in the last years of his life (even if he was already a Disney star before his music career), flows into the most binary doubts between Sour and Guts. In fact, his two projects have something in common: the lack of a youthful dream to achieve. And if in the first episode Rodrigo wondered where his teenage dream had gone, then in “Bears” he photographs the confidence that he could not become the teenage dream of his generation, “America’s sweetheart,” the role that the media tried to give her. A victim and executioner of particular maturity for a young 20-year-old girl, the process of abstract lightness that might have identified her at her age collapses, collapses in on itself as she sings: “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, you’re only nineteen
    But I’m afraid I’ve already lost the best things in my life, and I’m sorry I can’t always be your teenage dream.”

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