Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, SOUR, under the label Geffen Records, perfectly encapsulates teenage angst and hardships through songs of heartbreak, anger, and wistfulness. Rodrigo first made a name for herself as a lead in the Disney’s Bizaardvark in 2016 and High School the Musical, The Series in 2019. Breaking out with her debut solo single “driver’s license”in January of 2021, Rodrigo gained the attention of millions who related to the heartfelt ballad, leading to many eagerly anticipating her self-written studio album that would be released on May 21st.
SOUR is very versatile in its genres, including tracks that are alternative rock, pop, and pop punk influenced. SOUR is started off with the track, “brutal,” which is a loud, in-your-face, rock-infused song that complains about the misery of young adolescence. Through this track, we are introduced to Rodrigo’s inner conscience, where she reveals the misery and hardships she faced as a 17 year old in the limelight. We then move on to the track, “deja vu,” which provides a softer melody to the ears, a wistful song that reminisces on a past relationship, showcasing a hint of resentment directed toward a former lover’s new relationship, best seen through the song’s lyrics of “So when are you gonna tell her that we did that, too? She thinks it’s special, but it’s all reused.” The track, “jealousy, jealousy”, provides a sharp contrast to these two former tracks. With this track, the listeners are directed toward an emotion of envy, where Rodrigo opens up about her lack of self-confidence and her resentment towards those her age who she states seem to be “happier,” and “prettier,” than she is. SOUR closes off with the track, “hope ur ok,” which provides a calm and reflective closure to the album, ending with a dismal, “God, I hope that you’re happier today. ‘Cause I love you, and I hope that you’re okay.” “hope ur ok” serves as an ending note to Rodrigo’s past heartbreak, where she wishes her former lover the best, while still asking that they not forget about their past, as rocky as it may have been.
Rodrigo’s place in the music industry as a Filipino teenage girl who opens up about her life and expresses the hardships of young adolescence creates a space for millions of other young adults to relate to and understand. Her music serves as a major step in normalizing teenage girls publicly expressing their emotions not only in the limelight, but in society as a whole, without backlash. Because this album is very versatile with its differing genres, ranging from ballads to punk-rock, listeners who are attracted to a specific sound may be turned away, as it provides a feeling resembling whiplash as the listener goes from track to track. However, it can also be argued that the diversity of the tracks and their genres provide a unique and brave touch on the album that is rarely explored in our current music world. SOUR has become a massive success, with Rodrigo breaking the global spotify record for the biggest opening week for an album by a female artist and charting at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with several of the album’s tracks, proving her longevity through her brilliant singing and songwriting.