“I love writing songs and I would do it if nobody listened,” said eighteen-year-old singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo whose debut album was released May 21st. Now, the world is listening as the teen pop sensation launches her career in the music industry.
Before her rapidly growing career as a singer, Olivia Rodrigo began her journey into the spotlight as a young actress. She played a number of roles including the American Girl Doll, Grace, in the film Grace Stirs Up Success, as well as Paige Olvera, the comedic online influencer from the Disney Channel Show Bizaardvark. Her most notable role to date, however, is as the bubbly theatre kid, Nini, in High School Musical the Musical the Series. The High School Musical spinoff first premiered on Disney+ in 2019, and left fans of the original franchise buzzing. Her character lands the role of Gabriella Montez, originally played by Vanessa Hudgens, in the original school musical. Rodrigo even wrote her own song, “All I Want,” for the show, with it premiering in the fourth episode. As a result of the positive attention she received from her performance in the show, the star took it as an opportunity to establish her solo music career.
Rodrigo’s first song of her solo career, “drivers license,” was released on January 8th, 2021, starting the new year off on a high note. It’s safe to say the single was a hit––the emotional ballad shattered chart records across streaming platforms and was the longest-running single to be ranked No. 1 on Billboard Global 200 following its release. Much of the attention came from the rumor mill, with many believing the song to be about Joshua Basset––Rodrigo’s co-star on High School Musical the Musical the Series––and his supposed new girlfriend, Sabrina Carpenter. Along with this intrigue, the never-ending stream of praise for Rodrigo received was purely a result of her heartfelt lyrics and vocals.
Following the success of “drivers license,” Rodrigo dropped two other singles, “deja vu” and “good 4 u,” before the long-awaited release of her debut album SOUR, on May 21, 2021. Comprised of a multitude of genres including pop, alternative rock, and even some folk, the eleven track album has a song for every mood. “I really like [her] sound and I’m super excited to have a new artist to listen to,” Francesca Cumello, Centennial junior, explained. “I think my favorite is “jealousy, jealousy” because the bridge is so good, as well as “happier” because it made me really emotional.”
In addition to producer and songwriter Dan Nigro, Rodrigo credits Taylor Swift for her songwriting and musical aspirations. Rodrigo even had the opportunity to meet her idol face-to-face during the 2021 BRIT Awards. A photograph of the two vocalists posted to Rodrigo’s Instagram account went viral with many fans hopeful for a potential collaboration in the future. Swift is well known for her “Easter eggs,” a term for hidden messages or inside references in pop culture, intended for fans to discover. As such, many have been speculating as to whether Rodrigo has left any Easter eggs for her fans to uncover. Perhaps the greatest line of questioning around potential hidden messages lies behind the singer’s association with purple Sour Patch Kids––Rodrigo partnered with the company to create a purple version of the gummy candies in honor of her album. The brand is notorious for their slogan “sour then sweet,” a fact which has not gone unnoticed by the public; it is believed that the partnership may be hinting at a “SWEET” album to follow SOUR. While the songs on SOUR seem to be focused around feelings of heartbreak, anger, and jealousy, Rodrigo’s supporters have theorized that a “SWEET” album may feature more love songs. “I love the vibes of her first ever song “All I Want” and would love to see something similar with a “Sweet” album,” stated Cumello.
All eyes are on Olivia Rodrigo as the young star continues to break records and build a name for herself in the music industry. Cumello summarizes the general feelings of fans everywhere in saying, “I love SOUR, and hope it will be the first album of many.”
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