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10 thoughts I had while listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘SOUR’

Olivia Rodrigo released her highly-anticipated debut album SOUR on Friday, May 21. The 18-year-old Disney star first wowed the world when she released her massive single “driver’s license” in January. I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this project since I first heard “driver’s license” and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Here are 10 thoughts I had while listening to the album for the first time.

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“brutal” sounds completely different than the three songs we’ve heard so far

SOUR opens with the track “brutal,” an angsty teen song discussing the rough moments of being a 17-year-old in the public eye. While this is definitely not my favorite song off the album, it is the ideal prologue to SOUR, introducing the type of content that Olivia Rodrigo sings about for the next half hour. She establishes discontent in certain areas of her life singing “Got a broken ego, broken heart/ And god, I don’t even know where to start.” This segues perfectly into the heartbreak songs that were expected from the album.

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“traitor’ is very reminiscent of ‘driver’s license”

Olivia Rodrigo jumps right into the broken-hearted content that I listened to SOUR for with “traitor” and “driver’s license” as tracks two and three. If “driver’s license” is the “scream-in-your-car-while-driving” type of breakup song, then “traitor” is the “sit-on-your-bedroom-floor-while-crying” kind.

“traitor” shows contempt for the person who broke Olivia Rodrigo’s heart and had no problem moving on after doing so. The way Olivia sings this song elicits emotion from the listener, as you can hear the heartbreak and distrust in her voice. “traitor” proves that “driver’s license” was not a one-off hit and that Olivia Rodrigo is truly amazing at writing heart-wrenching breakup songs.

You can instantly hear the interpolation used in “1 step forward, 3 steps back”

In the track “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” Olivia Rodrigo uses interpolation from Taylor Swift’s “New Year’s Day” from her sixth studio album Reputation. This means that Olivia Rodrigo modified some of the music from “New Year’s Day” to use in her own song, giving Taylor Swift and songwriter Jack Antonoff writing credits on the track.

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It only takes a few seconds of listening to “1 step forward, 3 steps back” to recognize its resemblance to “New Year’s Day.” The fact that this is the song that Olivia Rodrigo chose to adapt is ironic because her song is about an inconsistent relationship and the uncertainty of her partner’s feelings, while Taylor Swift’s is about finally finding the person who you wake up with after the New Year’s Eve parties. Anyone who has been following Olivia’s career knows that she is a huge swiftie, so it’s no surprise that she would pay tribute to Taylor in her own music.

“good 4 u” is an absolute bop, but we already knew that

I have been completely obsessed with Olivia Rodrigo’s third single “good 4 u” since she released it and have been listening to it nonstop. The song reminds me of the pop/punk songs I would listen to on the radio as a child in the early 2000s. The release of this song proved Olivia’s versatility as a singer and songwriter, which is reinforced through the rest of the album.

“enough for you” is the perfect acoustic pop song

The song “enough for you” simply contains music from a guitar that accompanies Olivia Rodrigo’s singing perfectly. The track completely depicts the yearning to impress the person you love and how broken you are when you realize you never could. Olivia goes on to look toward the future, singing about how she’ll find better someday.

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“happier” is an instant favorite

I found “happier” to be instantly likable from the second I heard the piano music at the beginning of the song. Despite the track being about heartbreak, the music flows positively, with Olivia Rodrigo telling her ex that she hopes he’s happy in his new life, just not quite as happy as he was with her. It shows the struggle of trying to let someone go, but not wanting to see them move on completely. The unique mix of piano and bass that occurs later on in the song and the wonderfully written chorus make this a standout song for me.

“jealousy, jealousy” is a good step away from breakup songs and toward a greater societal issue

In “jealousy, jealousy, “ Olivia Rodrigo sings about her experience living in today’s society as a teenager. The song is about comparing yourself to others in today’s digital age. With social media, it’s so easy to compare how we look or what we’re doing to those around us, making this song relatable to listeners of any age. The scream-like bridge of the song shows her inner turmoil and strengthens its message.

“favorite crime” shows Olivia Rodrigo’s maturity as an artist

The way that Olivia Rodrigo wrote about her breakup in “favorite crime,” comparing she and her former lover  to two suspects at a crime scene, shows the maturity of her songwriting and just how advanced her talent is. The metaphor works exquisitely to relay her true feelings about her partnership. Although she knew the relationship might not have been the best, she just can’t seem to let it go.

“hope ur ok” is so, so sweet

In SOUR’s last track, “hope ur ok,” Olivia Rodrigo reminisces on friendships lost that she still looks back on fondly. The lyrics “Nothing’s forever, nothing’s as good as it seems” captures the feelings we go through as young adults when a relationship doesn’t necessarily end, but still manages to slip through our fingers until we’ve lost touch with those people we once knew.

Many fans on Twitter have also pointed out that in this song, Olivia is singing to members of the LGBTQ+ community who do not feel they are accepted.

Olivia Rodrigo’s soft, loving vocals are layered over a somewhat static undertone throughout the track. It ends with a very low, muffled voice memo over piano, almost signaling a coming to terms with everything she just sang about in the album.

The title perfectly encapsulates the overall mood of the album

After listening to SOUR it is evident that Olivia Rodrigo was once (or still is) bitter about some of the experiences that she had as a teen. Whether it’s heartbreak, loss of a friend, or low self-esteem, these are all things that we’ve experienced at one time or another. The difference, however, lies in the fact that Olivia has taken her feelings from these experiences and turned them into a beautiful work of art.

Through her songwriting, Olivia Rodrigo embodies every distinct emotion that she felt in these songs, leading the audience to understand her distaste and why she was once sour. She has now given us the perfect music to turn to when we are experiencing the same things that she once was. SOUR doesn’t sound quite like any pop album I have heard before, further proving that Olivia Rodrigo is paving her own way in the music industry. This might just be my favorite album that was released (so far) this year!

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Though Olivia Rodrigo’s music career has been short so far, it’s clear that there is so much in store for her future in the industry. Getting her start on Disney Channel and now starring on the Disney Plus show High School Musical The Musical: The Series, she is already going where no Disney star has gone before.

In contrast to her predecessors, she impacts the music industry right from the beginning of her career while still acting for Disney. Artists like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez weren’t able to make this kind of impact until they were a bit older and after they had already left Disney. This shows how rare Olivia Rodrigo’s talent is and there is no doubt that we will see much more to come. (I can hardly wait!) Until then, you can stream SOUR here.

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