The hype around the new album Olivia Rodrigo, a singer-songwriter born in 2004, has been on a meteoric rise since she was announced in an Instagram post. Aesthetics GUTS, very similar to SOUR, didn’t convince everyone, but there were still few fans who didn’t turn on Spotify in the middle of the night. 12 tracks, less than 40 minutes of music, nothing original either in the lyrics or in the sound. I really liked it.
Why? Because Olivia Rodrigo has learned—at her own expense—that the market values authenticity, and she’s a girl just like us. Of course, if necessary, she can reinvent herself and give us “epochs” like all the pop stars, but now she is just a 19-year-old teenager who dresses exactly the same as she did two years ago, speaks and writes the same and feels the same things are exactly the same, intensity. And she can’t pretend that she has evolved, matured, learned to forgive and lick her wounds without causing a scene.
Just like two years ago, Olivia Rodrigo just wants to cry and moan and I wonder why everything he does is wrong. The awards and nominations she received didn’t affect her because nothing would make sense if her kids continued to treat her like a fool and at work like an adult; Travel and fame haven’t changed her because she still feels like she’s living life without understanding anything.
The album opens with the words All American bitch, which perfectly defines the themes and sounds of the entire project. Here Olivia ironically describes herself as the ideal girl from the ideal country: always positive, beautiful and submissive. The song starts with a sweet sound – the singer’s voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar – and then becomes more aggressive with the chorus. The ending is an echo that stays in your head (the unwanted effect of “voices in your head”) “All the time, I’m grateful all the time. I’m sexy and kind. I’m beautiful when I cry.” Do you feel like you’ve heard this somewhere before? Yes, there’s a little “Start Over” by Miley Cyrus and maybe a little “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift.
When opened they follow Bad idea, right? AND A vampire, respectively the second and first single from GUTS. These exact excerpts from the album, already at the top of the charts and the most popular among Tiktok songs, prepared fans to hear Rodrigo’s voice again and convinced even most critics.
Lacey, the fourth song, brings up a typical Rodrigo theme (you can say he has two albums under his belt, right?), the theme of comparison with other girls. Similar to Heather from Conan Gray or Girl Crush from Little Big Time – so to speak. The obsession with this girl, so perfect in her eyes and so different from her, becomes so strong that it almost feels like falling in love.
The Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl it’s a completely successful teen song that has all the ingredients: a fast beat, lyrics that sound like something out of a phone conversation with your best friend, and a sound reminiscent of the best of Paramore and Avril Lavigne. No one would be surprised if it ended up on the soundtrack to some Netflix teen movie.
Making the bed and logic these are the two songs at the heart of the album, and also the most intense. Olivia’s writing was already mature when her first album was released, but she still showed that she had evolved and was able to better describe her suffering, without the need to make it picturesque or ironic. Make the bed This is a very personal song in which the singer exposes the burden of being at the center of the world at the age of less than 20 and the difficulties she faces in situations for which she does not feel ready, but she should be. “Another day of pretending I’m older than I am” is the song’s catchphrase, perhaps the one that best represents Rodrigo and his generation.
Logical, however, is a traitor to GUTS. A true song that explores the relationships that inspired the heartbreak songs featured on the project. The ex-partner is presented as an older man with manipulative abilities and a huge ego. Rodrigo isn’t as angry as he was in SOUR. She is sad, disappointed: she feels responsible for trusting again, for being weak and fragile, for exposing herself again to someone who did not deserve it.
Morale is restored with Bring him back! AND Love is confusing, where Rodrigo begins to age again. Unlike the classic chronology of acceptance, these songs embody the most classic and absurd mental movies typical of those who have been betrayed and the desire for revenge that such a wound leaves.
However, the last three songs return to show a fragile girl who carefully describes each phase of the moment of weakness she experiences. Discontent is one of the most powerful songs on the album, addressing the underlying theme of the end of a relationship and the manipulation of which she was clearly a victim (“And I fantasize about the time when you’ll be so damn sorry”).
beautiful not beautiful brings up the theme of comparison with others, as in the song SOUR, jealousy, jealousy, but perhaps with less force. This would definitely be another tense song if it didn’t feel heavy in contrast to Discontent and the last song Teenager’s dream.
GUTS is a slice of life, showing a period of Rodrigo’s life in great detail, and the ending – a teenage dream – seems to come full circle. It is similar to observing a liquid through a microscope: the eye prepares to observe the small world with its own movements, and then gradually returns to the ability to perceive the space of its reality. Teenager’s dream he leaves like this: with his eyes still a little wide open (maybe also from tears); the feeling of becoming part of another person and accompanying him on a short journey. “They all say it gets better, the more you grow the better (…) Yes, it gets better, but what if I don’t?”
What if he never learns to become a better person? What if she never grows up like everyone else? Olivia Rodrigo closes GUTS with this question, the answer will come with time. What if he never manages to give us an album with sounds we’ve never heard before and with absurd aesthetics, real changes in universe and style like other queens of pop and lyrics that we have to go back to the dictionary for? I have an answer to this question: we would like it anyway.