In early January of 2021, people around the world were coping with the fact that it seemed we were in for another year of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns. Little did we know, however, that a song would be released in only a few days that would change the music industry forever. As soon as the clock struck midnight on January 8th, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single, drivers license, was released and met with critical acclaim. Within the first week of its release, drivers license broke Spotify’s record for most daily streams ever for a non-holiday song twice, garnering 15.7 million global streams on January 11 and 17 million the following day. By the end of the first week, drivers license had broken yet another record by being the first song in history to hit 80 million streams in 7 days. Although Rodrigo said that, “It [had] been the absolute craziest week of [her] life,” the insanity that has been her career was only just beginning.
Rodrigo’s follow up single, deja vu, was an experimental indie-pop departure from the precedent of teenage sorrow presented by drivers license that made waves through the world, debuting at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. But, following the success of these two singles, Rodrigo’s next release would prove to be foundational to the style she has been publicly presenting as an artist. As the final single to be released before her debut album, SOUR, dropped, Rodrigo released a Paramore-inspired pop-punk break up anthem titled good 4 u, which became one of her fastest growing songs. It is currently the most streamed song in her discography, sitting at 1.6 billion streams on Spotify. However, good 4 u isn’t alone in the billions club as both drivers license and deja vu have reached the milestone, with several other tracks off her debut album closing in on the benchmark as well. With the wild success of good 4 u, Rodrigo’s image shifted to have more edge as she embraced the grunge, rocker aesthetics that fit the sound and themes presented in the song. This shift impacted more than just her image, as Rodrigo would opt to perform rock/rock-inspired covers of her songs in many future performances.
A mere week after the release and success of good 4 u, Rodrigo released her debut album SOUR worldwide. With spots one through eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 being filled by the tracks of this record, SOUR shattered records upon its release. From the head-banging teenage discontent presented in the opening track brutal, to the utter heartbreak and pain so beautifully portrayed in tracks such as traitor and enough for you, and even stretching to Rodrigo comforting the listener with a song that felt like a hug after a terrible year of living through the pandemic in the albums closing track hope ur ok, Rodrigo showed the world just how versatile she is, and that she is here to stay. Citing Taylor Swift and Lorde as two of her biggest inspirations, as well as Gracie Abram’s EP minor, for their influence on SOUR in multiple interviews, Rodrigo was able to channel the essence of her predecessors, while still making it her own, and representing the thoughts and feelings of millions of people across the globe in one album. The root of all of this success is her songwriting, which she has stated is the core of her artistry, and it, among the many other aspects of SOUR, have received enormous amounts of critical and public acclaim since its release. As 2021 came to a close, SOUR was still at the top, being named Spotify’s most streamed album of the year, as well as the second best selling album of the year. As of June 2022, SOUR is the longest-running top 10 album of the century at 52 weeks, dethroning Lady Gaga’s The Fame. This success netted Rodrigo seven nominations at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, of which she won Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for SOUR, and Best Pop Solo Performance for drivers license. Following the unprecedented success of SOUR, Rodrigo premiered Sour Prom, a prom-themed concert film, as well as announcing a world tour. Her most recent release tied to the SOUR era was her Disney+ documentary film Olivia Rodrigo: Driving Home 2 U.
After reaching success of awe inspiring heights, the impact SOUR has had on the music industry is undeniable. With a rise in pop-punk inspired releases, no doubt due to the successes of songs such as good 4 u, jealousy, jealousy, and brutal off of Rodrigo’s flagship album, as well as the emergence of several new artists who have followed in her footsteps by putting out emotionally and lyrically driven pop songs and ballads as they make their foray into the music industry. By single handedly reviving early-2000s pop-punk and paving the path for the emotionality and lyricism of singer-songwriters to once again dominate the music industry, Olivia Rodrigo has crowned herself as the queen of the Angsty Renaissance and made it known she will be here for years to come.
Photo Credit: youtube.com